• Germany's news in English
 

'I love the independent spirit in Bremen'

Published: 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)

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
'Hot Boy from Germany' wins Vietnam Idol
Image: Fremantle Media/YouTube

'Hot Boy from Germany' wins Vietnam Idol

A 22-year-old from Hanover has become the latest winner of Vietnam Idol – bagging $27,000 along with his new title. READ  

Man promises to stop coffin naps in public
If you want to rest in place while you're still alive, a car park isn't the place place to choose. Photo: DPA

Man promises to stop coffin naps in public

When a man walking his dog alerted police to the fact that a black coffin was lying in the middle of a public parking place, the cops were surprised to find someone inside. READ  

Court orders boss to pay worker for changing
Photo: Pixabay

Court orders boss to pay worker for changing

A mechanic from western Germany is set to receive €350 in back payments – after claiming he should be paid for the time he spent showering and getting dressed for work. READ  

In Pictures
Wacken festival draws metalheads of the world
A reveler at Wacken Open Air 2015. Photo: DPA

Wacken festival draws metalheads of the world

Armies of black-clad fans gathered for the world's biggest heavy metal festival between Thursday and Saturday, marking 25 years of headbanging fun in the small town of Wacken in northern Germany. READ  

Railway sunbather brings trains to a halt
Photo: DPA

Railway sunbather brings trains to a halt

A plucky sunbather brought train services in North Rhine-Westphalia to an abrupt halt at the weekend - after deciding to catch some rays on the tracks. READ  

Spiegel: Merkel wants fourth term in power
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

Spiegel: Merkel wants fourth term in power

According to Germany's most influential political magazine, Spiegel, Angela Merkel has decided to run for a fourth term in power and has already started talks on who will run her campaign. READ  

State leaders call for faster asylum processes
Refugees at a temporary reception centre in Baden Württemberg. Photo: DPA

State leaders call for faster asylum processes

Several state leaders called for more investment in processing asylum applications over the weekend as the backlog continues to put severe strain on current infrastructure. READ  

German sets Florida to Cuba speedboat record
Roger Klueh. Photo: Ernesto Mastrascusa / DPA

German sets Florida to Cuba speedboat record

A German businessman and power boating fanatic on Saturday broke a 57-year-old record for the fastest boat crossing between the United States and Cuba. READ  

Report: German refugee figures 'underestimated'
Migrants on a train on their way to the EU. Photo: Djordje Savic / DPA

Report: German refugee figures 'underestimated'

Germany has hosted more than 300,000 asylum seekers since the start of the year, said the daily Die Welt on Saturday, nearly 50,000 more than first thought, as Berlin prepares for a record influx of refugees in 2015. READ  

Migrant wounded in German police shooting
Photo: DPA

Migrant wounded in German police shooting

A Guinean migrant who caused a brawl in a home for asylum seekers in Germany was shot and seriously wounded by police, local media reported. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
Start-up helps new Berliners short cut bureaucracy
National
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after the Second World War
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Politics
Merkel brings Palestinian girl to tears
Hamburg
Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard
National
Could Merkel learn a lesson in love from this doppelganger?
Travel
Why you should stay in Germany for the summer holidays
Sport
German press tell Schweinsteiger 'good riddance'
National
Hamburg gets a bouncing 100kg baby girl
Society
In North Germany, money sometimes DOES grow on trees
National
Hero mechanics stop Bavaria shooting spree
International
Denmark says that border controls are coming
National
Did hackers take control of German missile battery?
Politics
Munich gives gay pride green light
Business & Money
Berlin rent controls hit prices hard
National
Fighting to breastfeed in public without shame
Society
Ice cream for dogs 'gobbled up in one gulp'
Education
Are hotpants a feminist issue?
Rhineland
Lion cub reunited with mother
National
How the heatwave is cracking Germany's Autobahns
International
Why the French are more sympathetic to Greece than the Germans
Sponsored Article
Crans-Montana: International expat hub
Gallery
Police seize pensioner's WW2 heavy weapons haul
National
How to survive the Europe-wide heatwave
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
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

7,116
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd