I got up at the crack of dawn the next morning (or 10am, Linda-time). After a shower and breakfast, I threw on my coat – only to discover, to my dismay, that it looked as if I’d rolled around in my gyro the night before, rather then eaten it. A quick wipe, however, and I was good to go.
As promised, the day was sunny and warm. I meandered through the streets, mouthing various German words to myself, like ‘fach’ and ‘fahrt’, and smiling. To my astonishment, people actually smiled back. This would not have happened in Riga – I think they can deport you for this sort of behaviour. Maybe. I made my way to the windmill in Wallanlagen Park, which looked simply perfect against the clear blue sky.
It was then that I noticed something curious –
As it had been at least an hour since breakfast, I thought it was high time to find some cake. I investigated the restaurant in the windmill, but since I can’t afford to lose an arm and a leg, I settled for a café on the edge of the park. As it was such a nice day, I sat outside. When my cake arrived, it drew admiring comments from the two English blokes sitting at the next table, and we got chatting – mainly about how surprised we were that we were up at this ungodly hour on a Sunday.
Eventually, I said goodbye to the English guys and headed in the direction of the river. It seemed everyone else in Bremen had a similar idea as the promenade was full of shiny happy Germans.
This is something you don’t see in Latvia – older people holding hands, I mean. This is partly because couples here usually despise each other after a couple of years of wedded ‘bliss’ and partly due to the fact that the men here pop their stilettos a lot younger than the women. In Bremen, however, the oldies were out in force, holding hands, gazing into each other eyes, talking and laughing. I put it down to one simple fact – German women aren’t total headcases.
I followed the length of the promenade and exited at the sign that said ‘Schnoor’. The Schnoor quarter is Bremen’s oldest district – a labyrinth of narrow lanes lined with tiny 15th and 16th century houses. It’s as small as it is cute so it didn’t take very long to wander around it in its entirety.
I thought I’d accidentally wandered back to Riga when I saw this guy though…
Having done enough walking for the time being, I made my way back to the row of restaurants and bars that line the river. I wandered up and down for a bit, trying to find an empty table and, when a couple stood up, I scooted over and grabbed a chair. I ordered a nice bottle of wine as I figured I’d be there for a while. Sitting there, it seemed like everyone in Bremen knew each other – people stopped to hug, say hi, chat for a while, introduce friends, and then move on before the next batch arrived. As people-watching spots go, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Finally, I reluctantly dragged myself back to the hotel, taking a few more snaps as I went.
After a power nap, I headed back to the river, thinking that it would be a lively spot for dinner. I thought wrong – all the Germans had clearly had enough for one day and gone home. It was still very pretty though.
I chose a restaurant and, of course, chose the sausage – after all, a girl can never have enough. Looking around, I noticed that the only other customers were the local chapter of Mensa. Feeling guilty that I was lowering the IQ level substantially, I stopped humming along to Enrique and put my smart face on. (I don’t think anyone was fooled.)
After dinner, having tried and failed to find a German bar with more than zero customers, I found my way back to Paddy’s which was hopping, even on a Sunday. To my surprise, there was an actual Irish person working behind the bar.
Her: Where are you from?
Me: Dublin. You?
Me: That’s where my mother’s from! What’s your name?
Her: (something in a Cork accent)
Her: (something that sounded like ‘hurley’)
Her: No, SHIRLEY, as in Shirley Temple…
Finding it very funny that the only person I couldn’t understand in Germany was a fellow Irishwoman, we got chatting. She’d come to Bremen to be with her German girlfriend (who I met the following night and discovered that she’d been on the front page of an Irish newspaper and on the Pat Kenny show for being German and playing camogie). Unfortunately, Ireland is a bit behind the times when it comes to things like gay marriage so they’d decided to move back to Germany. Two nicer girls you couldn’t meet. I even got a lock-in – not bad for my second night in the country.
On Monday, I spent a very enjoyable day in Hamburg, but instead of boring you with another 1,000 words, I’ll tell you the point of this little jaunt instead. The idea behind it was basically to see if I could de-Latvianise myself and reintegrate into normal society. It appears that I can so, by the end of this year, Expat Eye on Latvia will be no more.
Following the leopard-print leggings through the airport was enough to bring tears to my eyes, and I don’t know how many more times I can do that to myself…