The most common response to me choosing to go to Bremen, in Germany, is ‘why?’. “Well… to go to language school.” “O. But why Bremen? Why not Berlin, or Hamburg or München?” So I thought Bremen would be full of Germans and wouldn’t have any tourists. It seemed like nobody was enthusiastic for me and some even said I should have chosen Hamburg. I’ve been here three days now, and I really don’t understand where this attitude is coming from.
So far I love Bremen! It’s a bit more international than I thought it would be, with several language schools and international universities, but it is gorgeous! It’s not as international as for example Berlin or München. In the shops people don’t immediately start speaking English and therefore the perfect place to practise my German. I live with Germans and one other language student whom I speak German with. But today was the ultimate test.
My housemate had told me about das Bremer Geschichtenhaus. He had warned me that everything was in German, but since it was Scheisswetter today, full on autumn rain and wind, I decided it was the perfect activity. The words ‘may I please have one ticket’ stumbled out of my mouth and I patiently waited until the next tour would start. I heard a lot of people talking, but I didn’t see any other guests. When it was time to start I was escorted to the ticket man and yes, I was the only guest.
At the history house you go through several rooms, where you meet someone from Bremen’s history. I was a bit nervous when a man behind a barrel started talking to me. There was some interaction with the characters, but luckily it was mostly listening. This man was guarding a chest full of money and told me the story behind it. In a fun way I learned about Bremen’s history. He talked about the Swedish who were trying to invade this free city and how the Bremer people went to Holy Roman Emporer for help. It was disguised in a lively story.
When it was time to meet my next historic person I was pointed towards the next door. During my visit I met a sailor, who first asked me what I’d done to all the men. He couldn’t let a woman on board. But than he let me on board the ship and started telling me about the girl he loved, trading in the 17th/18th century and how his ship got lost and almost attacked. I also met a man who was Calvinist but was in love with a Lutheran. I met a lady who made coffee and talked about how coffee and chocolate came to Bremen. I met a woman who just wanted to talk to people and talked about her life.
Lastly I met Heini Holtenbeen who asked me the most questions of all. He had been in an accident and broke his leg as well as hurt his head. He wasn’t all there anymore. He lived in Schnoor, the medieval part of town where this museum also stands. He told me he lived a sober life and made some money by stealing cigar butts from the rich men. He then made new cigars out of them.
I loved this! Every actor was special in his or her own way. They all paid attention to me and made remarks like ‘ooo I wish I could have elegant shoes like you’ or when they knew I was Dutch, they’d bring The Netherlands back into their story. It was just such a fun way to learn about Bremen. All of this is done by unemployed people and the Geschichtenhaus tries to help them. If you understand a little bit of German, I can highly recommend this museum.