An arduous journey culminated in landing at the tiny Bremen Airport (larger than the one in Athens, Georgia but smaller than Lovell Field in Chattanooga). My hotel was attached to the lobby by a covered walk across the tramway and after exchanging notes with my colleague who arrived earlier I retired to my room where I cracked open a Becks and found a rubbery packet placed on my pillow (but I’ve stayed in crappier places that I SHOULD have been able to say that about).
I awoke at 5 by habit but was still sleepy and lounged around till 6 before stretching and going for a bit of a run around the bleak neighbourhood (mostly industrial park). There are as many bike lanes in Bremen as in a Dutch city, so finding a place to run is pretty straightforward. Work was a chore because we left so many bits we actually needed back in Oxford (on the advice of my boss and the folks at the development labs). Non-disclosure agreements limit that discussion to essential that.
Work went on, regardless, and we eventually released our tired hosts and my Russian mate went home to the hotel. I opted to change back into my running gear and went out to explore the beer/running dichotomy, Bremen style.
Bremen is never going to be a huge tourist spot, but it is quite a charming city. It has a contrarian history (one of the furthest west Soviet Republics, until this was quickly quashed) and the folks here are quite nice if you try at all to meet them halfway. For instance, I sometimes can surprise myself at my comprehension of spoken German because, although I have good grades on my high school transcripts for German language coursework I have absolutely no recollection of ever enrolling, attending, or being examined in these lessons; nonetheless, I managed to follow the simplified-for-my-consumption conversations at the three bars I hit on the route. Very nice of them to let me try.
Down an alley I spotted the Spitzen Gebel and dashed in for a pilsner. I had a Haake Beck, which I think I could get used to, then smelled something strange…hey! Folks were smoking in here! I only have an occasional stogie, but this is what a bar should be like. The small venue was packed and friendly and reasonably priced. Moreover, I was the only non-local in the place despite its proximity to what should have been the highest density of visitors in the town.
Needing nourishment and loving a kebab, I found a döner place. No, check that, I found a very good döner place and had quite a delicious pita with lamb, salad, and chilli sauce; not at all greasy and the meat tasted like (and had the texture of) meat. Result.
Tasty and high quality though it was, I wanted something to was it down and to cleanse the palate. About a third of the way back to hotel I spotted the weird little side street bar, Baldu, with its Tiki Bar interior and 70′s soundtrack. I ordered a Franziskaner Weißbier and received an enormous glass of this faintly orange and wheat loveliness that I can still make out, faintly, even after the ‘run’ continued on for one more stop.
Everyone else in the bar was drinking equally large or strong drinks backed with shots of something or other (I recognised vodka and got one for myself after even the bartender rendered horrific face-pulls on some spicy black shot one of the punters bought her…the vodka enhanced the FW, whereas the mystery tipple might have ruined it).
The run started to approach my shoddy airport neighbourhood so I scanned side streets until I spotted a bier sign down one. I pulled up to the building to find it was a pool hall complete with some stinky bikers out front. It was still pretty tame inside, the soundtrack included Meat Loaf and the house wine was, I shit you not, Motörhead Shiraz…I had already ordered another Haake Beck but I really wanted to toast Lemmy (maybe I can get someone from work to come shoot a few racks before I have to leave).