• Germany edition
 
My Germany - Bremen
'I love the independent spirit in Bremen'
Photo: Hannah Cleaver

'I love the independent spirit in Bremen'

Published: 14 Feb 2013 07:32 GMT+01:00
Updated: 14 Feb 2013 07:32 GMT+01:00

The 39-year-old South African head of concerts and tours for The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen made the Hanseatic city-state home four years ago.

What do you like most about Bremen?

I came here for work, and immediately liked it so much more than Frankfurt where I had lived before. It's a very green, alternative, human rights oriented city. I live in the area known as das Viertel, which I love.

It all took a while to feel like home but now it certainly is. It's small and manageable. There is a population of, last time I looked, about 650,000 including Bremerhaven. I love the independent spirit of the people in Bremen. There is a North German politeness - a friendly way of being. There is a saying about the difference between Bremen and Hamburg that says in Bremen you wear your fur on the inside of your coat while in Hamburg you wear it on the outside.

I love the stretch from the Marktplatz to the Viertel, there's a pretty little park along the old city wall. And particularly the Rathaus which has got to be one of the most beautiful buildings in Germany. It's beautiful inside too. And then one goes past the theatre and there is this tumble of colourful shops.

And in the Viertel there is a mixture of people, from the chic ladies with little dogs to students and the guy who lives on the streets and sweeps up the area. All sitting in a café together.

And what are the worst aspects of Bremen?

It is a little bit of a small town for me. I find the city centre completely overrun on Saturday mornings, full of tourists and shoppers. You can barely walk down Sögestrasse and that stresses me out.

The public transport is a catastrophe at night - during the day there are trams and buses, but nothing much moves after midnight and because of my work I often come home late. There is a women's taxi service which is cheaper for women to encourage us to take taxis rather than walk.

It is a great place but it's hard to get anywhere. If you fly just about anywhere you have to change which doubles prices and environmental impact. With a train you're in Hamburg in an hour which is ok.

For me as an English-speaker it is irritating that all the cinemas show dubbed films - apart from the sneak preview on Mondays, where you don't know in advance what the film is, but it is always in its original version.

How would you design a perfect weekend in Bremen?

I might be biased but the Kammerphilharmonie is really good. You should also go and have a look at the Rathaus, a typical piece of Weser renaissance and it is also a Unesco world heritage piece. I always find the craftsmanship there inspiring. As a South African in Germany I see it is as the epitome of high European culture.

Many tourists seem to get stuck in the Rathaus square but they should really head out a little more. Go into the Viertel and the Bürgerpark, which has a great history.

Is Bremen a friendly place to be a foreigner?

Germany and immigrants is strange anyhow. But here people are open and interested. It is a Ryanair destination - there are also a lot of Americans working here, at the opera house for example. I have always felt very welcome here. I thought I would never get over Berlin, but now I'm always delighted to get home here after being there for a weekend.

Your secret tips for visitors?

My favourite lunch place is the Schnoorkrämerei - it is a little grocery shop like in a village, where you can buy everything from custard powder and spaghetti to magazines and ice cream. It's run by a German woman and her Italian husband. They make lunch every day.

You have to call and let them know if you're coming and if you're too late you don't get anything. But it's like having your dad cooking at the back and it tastes better for that. They have a fixed dish each day of the week and the coffee is amazing.

And one thing people should do that might not be in the guide books?

My favourite running or walking route is lovely, you can find countryside in the middle of the city. Five minutes from where I live you can hop onto a little ferry which will take you to an island in the middle of the Weser River. You can walk all the way through the allotments, which are a mixture of German correctness and wilder ones with roses and artichokes all mixed up.

Or you go further in and through to fields. I was totally exhausted one day and sat down there on the dyke there for a bit - the next thing I knew it was three hours later. There is a grassy bank where you can sit and watch the boats - smaller ones and canoes. If you walk through the allotments you can see the big barges.

Want your hometown featured on My Germany? Contact us at: news@thelocal.de

Interview conducted by Hannah Cleaver.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

16:55 February 19, 2013 by neunElf
" It's a very green, alternative, human rights oriented city."

Also a very financially broken city that relies on money from the conservative south to fund their left wing fantasies!
Today's headlines
Siemens lands €650m Norway wind power deal
Photo: DPA

Siemens lands €650m Norway wind power deal

German engineering giant Siemens has won a contract worth 650 million euros to supply wind turbines to Norwegian power groups Statoil and Statkraft, the company said Thursday. READ  

BVB seeks cash to match Bayern
Photo: DPA

BVB seeks cash to match Bayern

Borussia Dortmund announced its plan to raise €114.4 million on Thursday in an effort to compete with Bundesliga rival Bayern Munich. READ  

Merkel tops Putin hot-line call queue
Call me maybe: The Berlin-Moscow hot-line has been busy. Photo: DPA

Merkel tops Putin hot-line call queue

"If there's somethin' strange in your neighbourhood; Who ya gonna call?" If you're Vladimir Putin, growing ever more isolated among his G8 peers, it's Angela Merkel, say the Kremlin hot-line stats. READ  

More Germans seek assisted dying abroad
A Belgian "suicide kit" including the commonly-used drug sodium pentothal. Photo: DPA

More Germans seek assisted dying abroad

A study revealed today that more people traveled to Switzerland to undergo assisted dying from Germany than from any other country in 2012. READ  

80,000 trainee jobs empty as Germans opt for uni
Photo: DPA

80,000 trainee jobs empty as Germans opt for uni

More young people are choosing university degrees over vocational training, leaving firms scrambling to find qualified new hires. READ  

Doctor arrested over medical test 'rape' photos
The Bamberg Clinic, where alleged abuse was reported. Photo: DPA

Doctor arrested over medical test 'rape' photos

Police in Bavaria have arrested a 48-year-old doctor for allegedly drugging and raping medical test volunteers, media reported Thursday. READ  

German of the Week
Nuts and bolts of being a piercing king
Rolf Buchholz, world's most pierced man. Photo: Caro von D Photografie

Nuts and bolts of being a piercing king

The world's most-pierced man, Rolf Buchholz, was just deported from Dubai, for fear of 'black magic', he says. But as shocking as many people find his body modifications, it is a genuine passion, our German of the Week explains. And who knows, he may just enchant you yet. READ  

Amazon 'should not endanger diversity'
State minister for culture and media Monika Grütters. Photo: DPA

Amazon 'should not endanger diversity'

A German minister on Wednesday threw her weight behind the authors battling US online retail giant Amazon over its alleged strong-arm negotiating tactics with publishers. READ  

Opposition calls for arms export debate
Photo: DPA

Opposition calls for arms export debate

Green Party leader Katrin Göring-Eckhardt is calling for a special session of parliament following Wednesday's announcement that Germany will break its rules and deliver weapons to an active conflict zone. READ  

Families find solace and help with seniors
Photo: DPA

Families find solace and help with seniors

When Verena Herz found out she was pregnant with twins, she had no idea what she was in for. Luckily, she was able to borrow a grandmother. The Local learns the advantages of welcoming a new grandparent into the family and why Omas and Opas say: "I tell everybody about it!" READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Culture
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? 10 reasons why you should.
Photo: DPA
Society
A German journalist shares the story of his US arrest in Ferguson
Photo: DPA
National
Berlin's senate puts the brakes on Über
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The mysteries of Berlin's abandoned theme park
Photo: DPA
Culture
How I deal with my German Hausmeister
Photo: Ingrid Eulenfan/flickr
Gallery
Nine German treats you'll want to eat right now (and one you won't)
Photo: DPA
Society
Who's getting German citizenship?
Photo: DPA
Culture
How World War I changed Germany forever
Photo: APA/DPA
Gallery
The 12 best words in Austrian German
Photo: DPA
Society
'Look at those German shanty towns!'
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,370
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd