That seafaring feeling is alive and well here in Vegesack. While still technically a part of Bremen, the train ride is 25 minutes from the Bremen train station and the city is much different here. The river, the Weser, has been silted in near Bremen, where the maritime history is just a faint glow. The Weser is much wider and more majestic in Vegesack. All types of ships, from the historical wooden sailboats to the grand freighters, are visible from the waterfront.
Whale of a Town
From the train station, hang a right and you will start up a gradual hill into the pedestrian zone of the city. There are a few large public maps of the city available on this route, so it is easy to take a moment and get your bearings. The pedestrian zone is filled with some of the regular German stores, but also a few specialty shops with especially good coffee and chocolate selections. There are a couple nautical themed stores, for the collector of sea faring novelties. The path along this upward sloping street is filled with maritime statues, including a large whale, which seems to be a favorite of the town's children.
Utkiek complete with a Whale Jaw
There is a park along the waterfront, which runs more or less parallel to the pedestrian zone. This is the best place to walk and view the river. The park itself is also quite lovely and the cliffs on the land bound side look up at some nice old mansions. At the intersection of the park and the city center is the Utkiek, where there are many lovely restaurants and bars which have a waterfront view. There is also a bronze recreation of a whale jaw. A couple of locals told me that the original jaw bones used to be in the town, but after years of decay, they were replaced with this life-sized replica, which seems just as tall as some of the houses and is quite impressive.
How to turn 30 in Deutschland – Use Bottlecaps
Underneath the whale jaw, we witnessed a party for a young man turning 30 years old. He held a broom and was sweeping at a heap of bottlecaps, especially collected for the occasion. As my friend and I walked by, we were asked to give a kiss to this young man, who required a virgin's kiss on the cheek before he could end his sweeping. Normally, this activity is reserved for a small girl, but since there were none in site, we took the job. The family then graciously offered us some beer from the cases they had brought with them. Apparently, this is a German tradition for unmarried men turning 30. Although, I later found out that many towns use the steps of the cathedral or the city hall, as no whale statues are present in the majority of German locations.
Old Man River
The river is generally the first thing you notice in this town and the area right around the train station is a nice place to hang out and look around, especially at some of the old ships docked in the adjacent inlet. If you walk past this area and take the swervy white bridge to the other side, you will discover a small shopping mall with more of the standard German clothing and shoe stores. At the other end of the mall, you will find yourself once again directly across from the train station.
How to get there: Trains run twice an hour from the Bremen main train station.
Great things: This is a great day trip from the Bremen area, which makes you feel as if you have left the city behind. A great place to relax and breathe some fresh air.
Date of visit: February 3, 2006
Vegesack website: www.vegesack.de
Smalltime tips: C. Adrian, P. Dorthe