• 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
Greece crisis
Germany, France call for Greece to get 'serious'
Photo:DPA

Germany, France call for Greece to get 'serious'

Germany and France on Monday called on Greece to make detailed proposals to revive bailout talks, a day after Greek voters defiantly rejected creditors' demands for further austerity, plunging Europe into crisis. READ  

School hotpants ban sparks online debate
Photo: DPA

School hotpants ban sparks online debate

A school's decision to ban hot pants for girls during the July heatwave has sparked anger online, with feminist activists decrying the decision as sexist. READ  

Greece crisis
Merkel to meet Tsipras at Tuesday summit
Over 60 percent of Greeks voted 'No' in the referendum. Photo: DPA

Merkel to meet Tsipras at Tuesday summit

UPDATE: Chancellor Angela Merkel is to meet Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at a eurozone summit on Tuesday to discuss new Greek reform proposals, Greek government sources said. READ  

Students fight for life after chimney plunge
The Düsseldorf Kunstakademie (Academy of Arts). Photo: DPA

Students fight for life after chimney plunge

Two students had to be rescued by fire services after falling 30 metres down a chimney at the the Dusseldorf Academy of Arts on Sunday night. READ  

Lion cub raised in living room leaves home
Zookeeper Isabelle Wallpott with Malor. Photo: DPA

Lion cub raised in living room leaves home

Malor has lived at home with a zookeeper in the Eifel mountains for the last five months. Now the little lion cub is about to be reintroduced to his mother. READ  

July heatwave
Bavarian town roasts in record temperatures
A farmer waters strawberries near Kitzingen in Lower Franconia. Photo: DPA

Bavarian town roasts in record temperatures

The small town of Kitzingen in Bavaria registered a new record temperature for Germany, as the mercury reached 40.3 C on Sunday. READ  

Having kids later makes for a happy family
Children make us happy, but only up to a point. Photo: DPA

Having kids later makes for a happy family

Children are a blessing? Only for parents over a certain age, and then only up to a certain number, a study published by a German research institute shows. READ  

Greece crisis
How will Germany react to the Greek vote?
Angela Merkel has some more sleepless nights ahead of her. Photo: DPA

How will Germany react to the Greek vote?

Now that Greeks have voted against accepting tough austerity conditions in return for a fresh tranche of bailout cash, The Local asked Professor Michael Wohlgemuth of Open Europe Berlin how Chancellor Angela Merkel, other political leaders and the German public may respond. READ  

Post strike ends Monday as agreement reached
Photo: DPA

Post strike ends Monday as agreement reached

Public sector union Verdi has reached a final agreement with Deutsche Post after a strike that lasted four weeks, meaning postal service should return to normal starting on Tuesday. READ  

Women's World Cup
Löw defends Neid as critics circle after defeat
Silvia Neid congratulates England after Germany's 1-0 defeat. Photo: DPA

Löw defends Neid as critics circle after defeat

World Cup winning coach Joachim Löw defended his female counterpart Silvia Neid on Monday after Germany fell to a surprise 1-0 defeat to England in the third place play-off of the Women's World Cup. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
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
Politics
What's really in the Queen's handbag?
National
Germans say USA doesn't respect freedom
National
Yes, you CAN buy adult e-books before 10pm in Germany
VIDEO: Watch a 93-metre turbine crash to earth in slow motion
Gallery
Who's got a shot at the German Film Awards
Rhineland
Anger over 'child-free' beer garden
National
How do you do, Majestät?
National
Man defends right to pee in public with tear gas
Features
The Germans who won Waterloo for the British
Frankfurt
Should Germany ban circus animals?
Hamburg
Where people are having the most sex in Germany
Culture
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Not this student...
National
Dresden's three-decade-long red light
Politics
Upper house calls for gay marriage now
Berlin
Berlin named 3rd-best city worldwide
Sport
In search of the toughest firefighter
Business & Money
German firms shine for European engineering students
Gallery
Hitler's paintings up for auction
National
German's 70-year search for murdered US pilot
Politics
What the G7 leaders agreed at Elmau
Business & Money
What really makes Germans happy
National
Playmobil builder leaves worldwide legacy
National
The car share that became a drug run
Politics
What Snowden revealed to Germany
Rhineland
Why wolf cubs are being raised by hand
National
Hitler's booze cave found
National
Environment makes Germany worth living in
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

6,862
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd