A lifestyle expat travel blog about culture, history, Brexit, the Royal Family, travels around the world, Europe, and being British in Berlin!
It’s been a long interesting year!
And most of it has centered around Europe!
It started with the shocking disaster of Brexit, terrorism in both Belgium and France, devastating earthquakes in Italy, and ending not only with the horrifying news that Donald Trump, is to be the next president of the United States, but a fatal terrorist action that occured on our very own doorstep of my beloved Berlin. In one of the most culturally vibrant German activities – the Christmas Market.
You really couldn’t make it up!
But have no fear.
We’re stoic, and have a stiff upper lip!
The Christmas Markets, and everything else is open for business, but if you have any concerns about safety, feel free to contact me. I live here. I’m on the ground!
But it hasn’t all been bad. In fact, I had a fabulous summer which I planned and organised. You know the one, Victoria’s Summer European Challenge Campaign, in which I went to a different European country, throughout the summer.
And travelled to these countries by train!
Well, it was certainly a challenge, but also soooo much fun!
This was where I went:
I always plan to spend a bit more time in other parts of my adoptive country, but I usually never make it. This time I did!
I wanted to go the seaside, and parts of Northern Germany. Here’s where I went:
Osnabrück is where my husband comes from. Here’s what I wrote about it last year:
And then I went to Bremen, but didn’t get around to writing about it ‘cos very soon after, I went to the Philippines and to a secret location, which I later revealed to be Taiwan. So here it is!
Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany, otherwise known as the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen!
It’s a commercial – industrial city, with a major port on the River Weser.
Bremen is part of the Bremen/Oldenburg Metropolitan Region and is, with 2.4 million people, the second most populous city in Northern Germany!
Bremen is a major cultural hub and home to historical galleries and museums, ranging from historical sculptures to major art museums.
I’ve been to Bremen a few times, but I remember the very first time that I visited. I just couldn’t believe that the animal statues that were dotted all over the city, were the animals in the old Grimm folk story – The Musicians of Bremen!
You can imagine how I felt when a German client of mine, told me that he came from Hamelin.
I burst into splutters of laughter!
I soon hung my head in shame when I discovered that not only was Hamelin a real town in Germany, but that also, the fairy tale legend of The Pied Piper of Hamelin actually existed, and is based on a true real event….!
Anyhoo, the German grandparents of “The Tall Young Gentleman” live in a small North German town called Achim, about 16 kms from Bremen, in the valley of the river Weser.
Achim was first mentioned in 1091, as Arahem!
I love spending time with the grandparents as it’s lovely and quiet, and so, you know, quite German!
On this visit, I wanted to discover some more of Bremen, and also go sailing, as grandfather is a bit of an old sailor, and has many tales of times gone by.
In many people’s mind, the image of a grandfather is of an old man, sitting by the fireside, a pipe or cigar in hand, slippers on his feet, port in his hand, and huddled beside the fireside.
Grandfather is nothing like that!
He teaches at the local university, he does volunteer work transporting “the elderly,” did engineering projects in Indonesia, is an ex-army officer, and sails!
This is the type of breakfast spread you can expect in a typical German home! Thank you so much Grandmother!
If you don’t have German grandparents, book your hotel here!
Mardorf is a district of Neustadt am Rübenberge based in the Hannover Region of Lower Saxony. It’s located on the northern shore of the Steinhuder Lake and within the Steinhuder Meer Nature Park!
Mardorf means “village by the sea” and in 1171, was first mentioned as “Meredorpe.” It’s a small 850 year old seaside village community of just 2,000 people that is really nice and friendly, surrounded by half-timbered houses, oak trees, farmland, and a 6 km long lakeside path used for walking, cycling, and hiking!
The grandparents have been sailing from there into Hannover and Hamburg, for decades, and this time, I chose to go with them!
We had a bit of problem with the engine, so we had to make do with the tiller in the stern instead!
This is how things are done on the Steinhuder Lake.
Such a summer feeling!
And soon it was time to return to Achim.
He won’t admit it, but I think “The Tall Young Gentleman” had a good time!
The next day, we went to the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen!
Bremen is a major cultural and economic hub in the northern regions of Germany, and also home to historical galleries and museums, ranging from historical sculptures to major art museums. In fact, in many parts of the old town, you stumble upon statue after statue! Even though historically, Bremen was known as a working class fishing port, many important manufacturers based their headquarters in the city!
We had a very nice time at the Focke Museum, otherwise known as the museum of history and the history of art, for the city and state of Bremen. In fact, this museum was formed in 1924 by the merger of the museum of industry and commerce and the previous historical museum, and named after Johann Focke, a Bremen privy councillor.
It’s absolutely huge! We spent about 2 hours there, and we didn’t even go to the outside buildings! We only went into the historical rescue boat, where we met an older German who spent his younger years living in England!
He was very pleased to spend a nostalgic afternoon talking about sailing, letting us press all the buttons, and speaking in English lol!
Then we went into various parts of the Old Town. Bremen was undergoing preservation construction work, so it was a little difficult to get decent pictures, but I tried my best!
Statues and sculptures can be found all over the city.
The most famous statue of them all, is the Statue of Roland, erected in 1404! Roland can be found in the market square facing the cathedral. Roland, was a paladin, otherwise known as one of the Twelve Peers, a warrior of the first Roman Emperor Charlemagne, and hero of the Battle of Roncevaux Pass.
Roland is also considered to be the protector of the city of Bremen. Legend has it that Bremen will always remain a free and independent state, as long as Lord Roland stands watch over the city. And just like the ravens in the Tower of London, the legend is taken very seriously such that a second statue of Roland is kept hidden.
Just in case!
One of the highlights of Bremen is Schnoor!
Schnoor is in one of the most famous neighbourhoods in the medieval centre of the city of Bremen, and the only part that remains medieval in character! Schnoor owes its name to old handicrafts associated with shipping as the narrow alleyways between houses, were often associated with occupations or objects. For example Schnoor (String) was so-called, because the area was known for producing ropes, cables, and of course string!
The oldest houses today date back to the 15th century, with most, from the 17th and 18th centuries. Famous for being extremely narrow, Schnoor became one of the poorest parts of Bremen. Luckily, many of the houses are now being preserved and restored.
We went to Bremen in the height of summer and there were street entertainers galore. One chap was even giving away a new brand of Bremen’s most famous beer – Becks. For free!
We only had an afternoon to spend in Bremen, but surely, we’ll be back!
I love living in the big city of cosmopolitan Berlin, but sometimes it’s rather nice to visit the grandparents, eat feasts of German food, go sailing, and just hang out!
Thank you so much Grandmother and Grandfather Genschow!
Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.
I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!
Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!
A win-win for all!
Thanks a million!
This article is not sponsored, and the Mardorf sailing experience, is my very own!
In January, I’ll be going to Holland.
The British Shorts Film Festival will take place from 12th – 18th January, 2017
Berlin Fashion Week will take place from 17th – 20th January, 2017.
At the end of January, I’ll be skiing in my favourite place, Rokytnice nad Jizerou, in the Czech Republic!
December is going to be filled with stuffing!
Have a great festive season, and an amazing Christmas!
I have never been to Bremen, it looks like a very interesting place to visit. So lovely for your son to spend some quality time with his grandfather and go sailing. My kids have precious memories of time spent in Scotland with their grandfather who unfortunately has passed away few years ago. Your summer was full on and quite a challenge, but looks like you survived and thrived?
Thanks so much Gilda! Bremen is a legendary place next to the seaport. Some parts have a German/Dutch look, some parts have houses that look like Edwardian homes, and others are medieval relics of a seaport and harbour, as in Schnoor!
p.s. My son has been extremely lucky to be able to meet and spend time with most of his grandparents. He even got to know, and meet, the aunt of Grandfather Genschow who is 101 years old this year! In fact, as the only grandchild in the German side of the family, his middle name is named after her! 😀
I’ve heard that sailing is amazing and I would definitely want to try it! 🙂
It totally is Agness! I mean, sailing in Germany. Who knew? 😀
The Christmas market attack was so sad but I love your stoic attitude. Merry Christmas and here’s to another great year of travel in 2017, I hope it’s as packed with adventures for you as this year has been!
Thanks so much Amy! The attck really was a sad situation, and we were all so shocked and dismayed, but we won’t let a single man ruin, what is an intricate way of life. In Germany. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to both yourself and Andrew. The next New Year will be wonderful for us both. I’m sure! 🙂
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