• Germany's news in English
 
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

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
Ethics Council rejects assisted suicide law
Photo: DPA

Ethics Council rejects assisted suicide law

The German Ethics Council said the law should not be changed to permit assisted suicide in a paper published on Friday. READ  

Abandoned themepark needs 14m says Berlin
Swan Lake. An abandoned ride in the Spreewald pleasure park. Photo: DPA

Abandoned themepark needs 14m says Berlin

The iconic ruined themepark in the centre of Berlin - a long-time favourite of hipster adventurers - needs a clean-up costing at least 14 million euros, the Berlin government has revealed. READ  

Police nab Nuremberg station bomb hoaxer
File photo of Nuremberg main station: Shutterstock

Police nab Nuremberg station bomb hoaxer

Officers in Nuremberg arrested a man on Thursday evening after he called in a false bomb threat against the main train station READ  

Opinion
Angela, David...and Nigel
So near...and yet so far Photo: DPA

Angela, David...and Nigel

The rise of UKIP broke up what had been a good 2014 for Cameron and Merkel. READ  

'Dr Death' corpse museum gets go-ahead
Dr Gunther von Hagens. Photo: DPA

'Dr Death' corpse museum gets go-ahead

A Berlin court has said that infamous human taxidermist Gunther von Hagens can open a museum in the capital - over objections from local officials. READ  

Presented by Phorms Education
Phorms bilingual schools boast top-notch tech
Photo: Phorms Education

Phorms bilingual schools boast top-notch tech

As parents fret over children’s internet habits, a network of bilingual schools in Germany shows that putting computers in the classroom from an early age yields positive results. READ  

Networks scramble to patch mobile security
Chancellor Angela Merkel has herself been the victim of phone hacking. Photo: DPA

Networks scramble to patch mobile security

IT experts led by Berlin-based Karsten Nohl said on Thursday they had discovered security flaws in the mobile phone networks that would allow attackers to read users' messages. READ  

Turkish 'spies' arrested at Frankfurt airport
Photo: DPA

Turkish 'spies' arrested at Frankfurt airport

Three men suspected of being Turkish agents have been arrested by police, federal prosecutors said on Thursday. READ  

Tax take jumps 7.3 percent in November
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is having an excellent month. Photo: DPA

Tax take jumps 7.3 percent in November

Germany collected 7.3 percent more in tax in November 2014 than the same month last year thanks to the strengthening economy, the Finance Ministry said in its monthly report on Thursday, while pollsters found rising consumer confidence. READ  

Ramelow bunks off his first Bundesrat sitting
Bodo Ramelow looking low on energy at a sitting of the Thuringia state parliament. Photo: DPA

Ramelow bunks off his first Bundesrat sitting

Controversial new Thuringia minister-president Bodo Ramelow of the Left (Linke) party missed his first session of Germany's second house of parliament, the Bundesrat, to go on holiday with his family. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Willy Brandt at his inauguration in 1972. Photo: DPA
National
Willy Brandt: the man, the chancellor... the airport?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Sponsored Article
Why are these International Baccalaureate students cheering?
Germany's national football team lifts the World Cup trophy
Gallery
Germany's most-Googled words of 2014
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Stuff your face with these festive German cookies
Photo: DPA
Culture
What do beer, breakfast cereal and dildos have in common?
Culture
The Local's guide to German Christmas markets
Sponsored Article
Top five quirky Christmas jumpers
Photo: DPA
Culture
Get ready for Christmas like a German. We tell you how.
Photo: DPA
Munich
She did what with her dead mother?
Photo: DPA
National
Germany still paying for crisis fall out
Photo: DPA
Culture
Saxon wurst is the worst, Christmas market declares.
Photo: DPA
Politics
Can 'sorry' ever be enough for the Linke?
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles through December 19th
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
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

3,201
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd