Water, water everywhere! After working oceanside in Boston for 8 years, a move to Germany can be tough. But Bremerhaven is a good place to experience the water, right at the mouth of the Weser. The nautical history of this city is well documented through many statues and museums right on the waterfront.

German Emigration Center
Of particular note is the Deutsches Auswanderer Haus (German Emigration Center), which was built as a counterpoint to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Bremerhaven was the point of departure for many European emigrants. The museum takes you through the entire journey of an emigrant, from the train station at Bremerhaven, to the docks, through 3 ships from different time periods with different travelling conditions, then on to arrival at Ellis Island. The architecture, exhibits and films throughout are thought out with care, and the experience is exceptional. Visitors are given a "passport" and electronic card which activates different activities and allows one to follow the experience of one particular emigrant and their story throughout the museum. All the exhibits and films are split equally between the English and German languages, making the experience more realistic, as stories are told from both the European and American perspectives. Computers are available at the end of the tour for visitors who want to conduct their own genealogical research.

Museums and the Public Utilities
There are many other museums located in the harbor area, including the Schiffahrtmuseum and the zoo. I did not make it into a tourist office here, but I did not feel the need, as signs were abundant and well placed in the harbor area. Bremerhaven also does a good job in terms of location and number of public restrooms. Any German tourist knows that finding a toilette here can be both challenging and costly, so I give Bremerhaven two thumbs up for its WC-friendly policy.

Under the Boardwalk
The pedestrian zone of the city is quite long and also contains a large mall called the Columbus Center. There are many places to grab a bite, including several cafes on the waterfront, and a docked ship-restaurant. The harbor has both a lovely boardwalk and a beachfront for walks. The view of the water is wonderful, although the landlocked side has quite a bit of construction, but this will hopefully improve the area over the next year.

There were Men in Blue Overalls
There is a lot of construction, but hopefully this pays off in the near term. There are a few modern buildings (namely, the Hochschule) and more of these would be a welcome sight in Bremerhaven. Above and beyond the tourist attractions, this is a working city, so expect to see some industry.

How to get there: Getting to Bremerhaven is super easy from Bremen. There are two regional trains that make the trip, with one being a little faster than the other (30 vs. 50 minutes). The ride up from Bremen is quite pleasant either way, with lots of wide open spaces and forestland to see. From the Bremerhaven train station, take a bus into the city. I decided to save a few bucks and walked into town, but it took me 30 minutes. So, unless you enjoy walking or really want to see the whole city, I advise taking the bus or a taxi.

Great things: Emigration Museum was one of the best museums I have ever visited. The harbor is wonderful and the big ships and nautical statues are a breath of fresh air after living inland. The town is tourist friendly and has lots to see and do.

Date of visit: March 18, 2006

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