Living the Erasmus high life continues with the crossing of borders and discovery of new places. My next year abroad adventure took me to Bremen, where I was reunited with my two German friends Anna and An-Ki, who could unfortunately only stay in Paris for one semester. On the bright side, this meant that I got to visit them and have a taste of German student life. Journeying there and back was a pretty epic excursion, totalling eight hours on five trains and passing through three different countries. I immediately felt like the idiot abroad when changing at Cologne and not being able to speak German. Due to my rather Northern European-looking blonde hair (which often gets me mistaken as German here in France), most habitants were pretty surprised to learn that I wasn’t a native. Reactions ranged from funny looks on the train when speaking French on the phone to Anna getting quizzed for an entire bus journey by a nosy woman. The confusion continued when Anna’s housemate thought that An-Ki and I were French – all very complementary I must say!
After a sushi takeaway, we got ready for what was to be my first night out German style. Our pre-drinks consisted of a classy combo of French wine and German liquor, which got us all rather merry before heading out clubbing at around 1am. Overhearing French chitchat in the back, the cabbie even made the effort to search through his radio stations for some French music. This resulted in the three of us tipsily singing along (most probably very badly and out of tune) to Ediaf Piath’s ‘Je ne regrette rien’. My first experience of German nightlife was a good one, and I was even happy enough to hear several German songs which made a nice change. If there’s one thing the English and Germans have in common, it is knowing how to knock a drink back. Shooting several tequilas and cooling down in between dancing with some Becks, German girls can definitely hold their hold against us English lasses. Though whereas I woke up feeling perfectly fine the next morning, others were feeling slightly delicate to say the least!
After saying our goodbyes to An-Ki and a sampling a typically German breakfast, Anna took me on a tour of the city centre. The style of the buildings is very different from that in Paris, and reminded me of Flemish architecture which I admire so often when in Belgium. The Altstadt (Old Town) is where most of the sites are, home to the Marktplatz – a large open market square dominated by the stunning Town Hall and the Cathedral St. Petri. The square is also home to the Die Stadtmusikanten (Town Musicians of Bremen) statue of the donkey, cat, dog and rooster appearing in a folktale of the Brothers’ Grimm, which is now the town’s symbol.
My favourite place was the backstreets of Schnoor Viertel, a quaint little area lined with cafes and artsy shops where one can wander through its narrow alleyways and browse in boutiques. We then took a stroll along Schlachte, the medieval harbour and its riverside boulevard where I enjoyed my first ice cream of the year. In order to reminisce over our time together in Paris, we opted for dinner at Crêpe Suzette. Whilst clearly advertised as French cuisine, my crêpe definitely had a bit of a German twist to it, as it was not made with the same flour used in a traditional Breton recipe. Was pretty tasty all the same!
On Saturday we learnt some new vocab after visiting Bremen’s moulin à vent (windmill) before doing a bit of shopping. I then had a little adventure around a German supermarket and stocked up on some goodies to take back to Paris with me. I also enjoyed an Apfeltasche – a German apple turnover or un chausson aux pommes – funny how each nationality has its own equivalent. Before heading out to a house party, we had some amazing cocktails in a bar – at 4 euros each, they were quite a bargain. Before we knew it, the time had come on Sunday for me to make my way back to Paris, though we’re hoping to have another reunion soon – with discussions about Paris, London and Berlin, we’re rather spoilt for choice! I was gutted to be stuck in trains all day during the hottest day of the year so far, however it was definitely worth it!