A fairy tale trip up north - and a place where many departed for America
Bremerhaven - A trip way up north
Up early to catch the 6:24AM train in Rockenhausen. Changed trains in Bad Kreuznach and then in Koblenz. During that stretch we traveled along the most famous stretch of the Rhein from Bingen to Boppard, where the Rhine Gorge is its most striking, dotted with castle ruins and quaint towns hugging the river bank. There are rail lines and highways on both sides of the river, so it’s a major thoroughfare, but I still enjoy traveling down this stretch by car, train, or boat. After the hot summer when travel along the river was stopped due to low waters, I was pleased to see that there were barges and boats on the river. Around the Loreley, however, there are still rocks popping up out of the water that I’ve not ever seen before, so even though things are turning green again, it’s still not back to “normal”.
Once I picked up the Inter City train in Koblenz, where the Mosel enters the Rhein, I had Internet access and the Rhein widens out into the valley as it heads towards Köln (Cologne) and Düsseldorf. Between Koblenz and Bonn you can spot the “7 Berge für 7 Zwerge” – the 7 Hills for 7 Dwarfs – yes, many of the fairy tales have their stories embedded in folklore and geography. In Cologne the train station is dwarfed by the massive cathedral that contains (supposedly) the remains of the 3 Magi). From there, you travel through the heart of the Ruhrgebiet, the industrialized area along the Ruhr River, which is the most populated region of the country and in the state of North Rhine – Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen). Once you depart Gelsenkirchen, it isn’t long before you enter the farmland of Westfalen and the area around Münster, where the treaty to end the 30 Years War in 1648 was signed. From there it’s a short hop up to Osnabrück and then to the city of Bremen. Finally, a 45 minute ride takes you from the city of Bremen to the harbor of Bremerhaven, where I arrived at 1:30PM and headed to my destination – the German Emigration Museum.
The museum is extremely well done and tells the story of the massive emigration from Europe to the United States, Australia, and South America during the 19th and 20th centuries. When you pay your entry ticket, you are provided the name of a person you follow through the process. It really makes you think about how brave and driven people were to give up everything they knew to move to a completely different continent. The museum explores the various reasons for the mass migration, including political, religious, economical, and cultural events that forced people to make the decision to leave.
The next section of the exhibit went through the various types of sea vessels, from ships with sails that took six weeks to get to New York to steamships that took a matter of days. Once in New York, you go through the arrival process and then go through Grand Central Terminal via a series of shops as they would have appeared in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Throughout the museum, you have the option of participating in a series of questions about emigration to make you think about the consequences and options related to emigration. At the end of the museum, you can view the randomly compiled results of all the museum’s visitors as well as review your own personal responses. Also nearby were computer stations where you could search databases for names and ships, although it didn’t go back as far as I had hoped.
After the museum, I went up to the observation deck of the Atlantic Hotel, which is located right on the Weser River and the harbor. The entire process was automated, from purchasing the ticket to riding the elevator to going back down. The views were fantastic and the weather played along.
After finishing there, I walked through the indoor shopping center and to the pedestrian area near the “big church” (Große Kirche). The downtown was quaint and opened up on the entertainment square where the theater and art museum are located.
I walked along and found my hotel and took a short break. The front desk recommended a Greek restaurant about a 5-minute walk away and it was excellent. I had bifteki with rice and tzatziki. Watched the 8:00PM news and went to bed shortly afterward.
Bremen - a few hours to look around before heading back to the Pfalz
Got up early and had breakfast at 6:45AM at the hotel, which had a great buffet spread. Finished packing and walked back to the train station and rode back to Bremen’s central station. I’d been to Bremen before, but it had been a long time. Walking around a city before it gets busy for the day is fun because you can see sites without throngs of people. I still remembered my way around, and enjoyed watching the flower and plant stands set up their wares for the day. Of course, I found the usual attractions like the statue for the Bremen Town Musicians, City Hall, the statue of Roland, the Böttcherstraße with its museums and craft stores, walked along the Weser River, found the Schnoor Quarter (the oldest buildings in town, which date to the 15th, 16th, 18th, and 19th century, and went into the St. Petri Cathedral. I also found a little garden next to St. Petri that was so quiet you couldn’t hear the streetcars or clamor of students heading to school. The garden is planted with things mentioned in the Bible. (I guess more than 120 plants are mentioned according to what I read in the garden.)
From there I made my way back to the train station – but stopped to have a delicious cup of coffee at a nice café so I could watch people. Boarded the train and basically backtracked the route from the day before, arriving in Rockenhausen at 5:18PM.
Pictures 1 - Bremerhaven; left to right, top to bottom
Row 1: Pedestrian zone; Große Kirche; view of harbor from observation deck
Row 2: Weser River; looking south from observation deck
Row 3: looking Northeast from observation deck; boats
Row 4: German Emigration Museum
Row 5: Bremerhaven
Pictures 2: Bremen - left to right, top to bottom
Row 1: Central train station; garden next to St. Peter's
Row 2: St. Peter's; garden next to St. Peter's; Schnoor Quarter
Row 3: Entrance to Böttcherstraße; 2 old sail ships; Roland
Row 4: Bremen Town Musicians; Market Square; Flower and Plant stand
Row 5: Map of old city