In Germany, the “Fairy Tale Road” winds through a collection of towns and areas where fairy tales took place.  The Brothers Grimm traveled around this region collecting tales and stories.  We didn’t really follow this road and visit all the places, but we did sort of make our own Fairy Tale Road with our trip in June 2009!

Bremen, which is actually a stop on the Fairy Tale Road, was our first stop.  Bremen, for those who didn’t read the grim fairy tales as a kid (this one was not really that grim, unlike some of the other Grimm stories), is where the Town Musicians of Bremen were heading to.  Actually, they never made it there, but there are statues all over commemorating them anyway.

  The city of Bremen is 1,200 years old.  Apparently it was a major city in the Hanseatic League and is still an important seaport.  It’s a very pretty city.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of time to see it, as we ran into a huge stau (traffic jam) on the way, and it was raining.  We got there in the late afternoon and found the hotel, but had a horrible time finding parking (the location was good for walking into the old town, but parking was impossible).  The hotel was pretty nice (it was a Best Western).  We dropped our bags and went out right away, as we wanted to hear the carillon on Böttcherstrasse.  Three times a day the bells ring and woodcarved pictures of famous voyagers emerge and revolve while the carillon plays.

After the carillon, we took a walk along Böttcherstrasse, which is one of Bremen’s main tourist attractions due to its unusual architecture.  The street is about 100 meters long and dates back to the Middle Ages when it was an area where coopers (barrel makers or Böttchers) lived.  In the early 1900s the Bremen coffee merchant Ludwig Roselius (who, by the way, invented decaffeinated coffee) commissioned architectural and artisans who turned the street into a “rare example” of “Brick Expressionism”.

img_2105.jpgUnfortunately my camera batteries gave out while we were wandering Böttcherstrasse, so we went back to the hotel to geimg_2109.jpgt another set (good thing we got a hotel close to city center!)  As we came out again, it started to rain in earnest, but we had our umbrellas and went ahead to see what we could.  We skipped walking through the park area with the windmill, but it was a pretty area.  We saw some ducks and what looked like an otter from the bridge we walked over into the town.  We also saw an interesting sculpture (I think it’s a pigherder?).

The Bremen Marktplatz is really impressive, with a collection of beautiful old buildings.  The Church of St Peter (St Petri Dom) was started in 1042, the Rathaus (town hall) dates from 1405, and the collection of merchant houses are from around 1600.  The statue of the knight Roland, protector of the city, erected in 1404, and the Rathaus are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  At the edge of the square is also a statue of the famous Bremen Town Musicians.

St Petri Dom was nice, even if it did have scaffolding on it (it seems that every place we visit puts the scaffolding on the church before we get there).  Yes, there are a lot of similar looking churches in Europe.  At least with this one you can get a picture of the whole church from across the square; in a lot of the places we’ve visited it seems like there’s a nice big church just plopped down in a crowded city (I presume that really the city just grew up around the church, kind of like encroachment of housing developments on Luke Air Force Base).

We himg_2143.jpgad dinner at a Doner Kebap, which for some reason seems to be hugely popular in Germany (it’s really a Turkish/Middle Eastern kind of thing, with the meat roasted on a big spit, but I think it’s more chicken or beef in Germany and lamb in Turkey).  It’s really just a German fast food place.  Roy had a Rollo, which is a wrap with meat and “salat”.  He said it was okay, but I think he was expecting more lettuce and tomato; beets, not so much.  Rebecca and I played it safe with a Doner Box, meat and pommes frites.

Even with the rain, Bremen is an attractive city, with some interesting sights–well worth the stop.  Tomorrow, it’s off to Copenhagen, via Odense, birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen.

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