By Megan Hulshizer

This week, my students have tests and therefore I only have to work one day a week. Life is hard, y’all. With too much free time on my hands, I decided to spend one day in the city of Bremen, located about a hour-and-a-half by bus away from Hamburg. It turns out this was a great decision – Hamburg was rainy and cloudy, while Bremen was blue and sunny, without a cloud in the sky.

I arrived at around 11 am near the Hauptbahnhof and promptly began my wanders through the city. Along the way was their large windmill, that hosts a restaurant cafe at the base. Looking at pictures in the spring, there are wonderful flower beds and a beautiful park surrounding the windmill. Since I was visiting in December, the flowerbeds were under a thick layer of frost and the water was frozen, but it was still quite a cute sight.

Almost immediately on the walk from the train station into the center of town I came upon the Weihnachtsmarkt. I discovered quickly that of course I would run into it – it was HUGE. It spanned many streets. There was a large carousel in front of the Rathaus, as well as a ferris wheel and a small roller coaster type ride near the cathedral.

First I ducked into the St. Peter’s Cathedral for a quick peak. I love seeing the churches all decorated for Christmas. After a walk around inside and a little sit for some warmth to return to my toes, I decided to brave the outside once more. I chose a smoked salmon sandwich from a small stall nearby. It’s so cool to see the salmon being cooked over a fire right in front of you. No question of freshness from a Christmas market. After stuffing myself silly, I walked by the statue of the Town Musicians of Bremen, depicted an old tale. I had heard it years and years ago, so it was very cool to see the statue in person! Also great was seeing one lady take innumerable selfies with her selfie stick, while others patiently queued, waiting for her to finally be done. I left before she was finished.

Right past the main square is Böttcherstrasse, which has the Bremen Bonbon Manufacture and is the oldest pedestrian area of Bremen. Once through the cute, narrow brick lane you come upon the Schlachte Embankment. Since it is Christmas time, of course they have a Weihnachtsmarkt called Schlachte Zauber. It is designed to be a type of maritime Christmas market, with mead and historical food stalls with fresh fish. Similar to Lüneburg, people are dressed in medieval clothing, harkening back to the days of Bremen when old wooden ships came to port here.

Next I walked to the Schnoor district, another pedestrian shopping area with cute cafes, museums, shops, and more, all along tiny narrow streets. Here I purchased some postcards and tried to get a coffee but the cafe was absolutely packed with Christmas revelers.

Past the Schnoor is the Bremen Kunsthalle, the Bremen art museum. I love having my student ID in Europe, as entrance was only 5 euros for students, but 10 for everyone else. They have a huge Max Liebermann exhibit, who I honestly didn’t know much about before my visit, but afterward felt thoroughly informed.

Finally it was time for another pass through of the Weihnachtsmarkt at night. That’s when they feel truly magical. The cathedral and Rathaus are all lit up, the the stalls decorated with Christmas lights. There are lights hanging above the market place and Christmas trees all around. It’s important to stay until after sunset for Christmas markets – that’s when they’re the best. Fortunately sunset is at 4 pm right now, so you don’t need to stay up late in order to see the magic.

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