First taste of a European Christmas
You wouldn’t expect the little-known city of Bremen to be given a dedicated post all to itself, especially as I was only there to grab some lunch on my way from London to Hamburg.
But there were a few things going on in this city in northwestern Germany, with more than half a million people, and I have enough photos to give it its own gallery
For this particular trip, I’m speaking as a group of three.
I managed to convince (admittedly with little effort) a friend from high school, Will and his girlfriend Katrina, who have also moved to London, to join me to see the Christmas markets in Germany.
We chose Hamburg because we had heard good things about the event, and for my own selfish reason, as I had never been to the second biggest city in Germany.
Will has a great knack of finding different ways to reach a destination by going the most non-direct route. And going via Bremen seemed like a cheaper and least non-convenient way.
I was coming off a night shift that finished at 2am, and needed to get from Feltham in greater West London to Stanstead airport for a 7:55am flight.
If you know London’s airports, Stanstead is perhaps the worst of the four to get to in the early hours of the morning (arguably at any time as well), because it is somewhere in the north east and accessible either by a thirty minute train or an hour National Express coach ride from Liverpool Street.
At that time in the morning, you’ll need to take the dreaded night bus that goes everywhere to join the zombies that were also too cheap to buy a ticket for a late morning or afternoon flight.
If I were to make it on time, I needed to make my way to the Liverpool Street bus terminus straight from work. Of course I had only realised this an hour before leaving home that day, which resulted in frantically packing my things for the next four days!
The RyanAir flight to Bremen was full, not that it really bothered me as I knew I would only be doing one thing for the one hour and 25 minute duration. After being awake since 10am the previous day, my tiredness had kicked in and as soon as we were taxiing out to the runway, I was fast asleep.
The terminal reminded me a lot of one at Coolangatta airport. Only two sets of doors to leave the departure lounge and two to bring you in from the plane that drops you off on the tarmac. The short walk is stopped by a bizarrely placed border control desk, situated so close to the doors that half of those on the plane are inevitably left to wait outside in the cold.
As with my previous experience of Germany, the airport is well serviced by public transport that take travellers back to the centre of the city. And with a single fare less than 5 euros, Will, Katrina and I, were on a 15-minute tram ride to Bremen HBF (central station).
I don’t really need to describe any more of Bremen. You can see what the city is like from the photos. There are generally a number of Christmas markets around the city and we discovered two main areas – outside HBF and in the shopping area.
We only had three hours in Bremen to toast our first (and second) gluhwein, eat a bratwurst on a roll and share three types of German pastries. We headed back to the HBF to join a coach that would take us to Hamburg.