29th - 30th December 2009
The train journey from Hamburg to Bremen should've been easy. A direct train usually runs between the two towns, but for some reason the day we wanted to travel they were doing work on the tracks and had to go on a roundabout kind of route. We bought tickets and jumped on a train that was heading to Frankfurt. We only needed to stay on it for about 45 minutes, then we were going to have a 15 minute wait until we jumped on a second train which should've taken 15 minutes to take us into Bremen. It didn't work out that way. The first train was delayed by about 10 minutes, so by the time we got to the change station, in the middle of nowhere, we should've only had a couple of minute until the next train turned up. When we got there though there was no sign that our train was coming, nothing on the platform signs, and the loudspeaker announcements was saying something about it. We ended up waiting for a while until I decided that I'd go and ask someone in the ticket office what was going on. I raced over and the kind lady told me that the train we were meant to be catching had gone 'Kaput' and that I needed to jump on one that had just pulled up. Dan didn't realise that I'd left him on the platform and I could see across the tracks that he was looking for me and getting concerned that we weren't going to get on the train that had just pulled up. I did the fastest sprint I could manage with my backpack down under the subway to the platform and we jumped on the train. As it turned out there was absolutely no need for it as it sat on the platform for another 30 minutes or so. So much for German efficiency. We ended up arriving into Bremen about an hour late.
We grabbed a Big Rosti burger from McDonalds then caught a tram to our Bed and Breakfast where we'd booked for the night. We dropped our bags and headed back into the small town centre. We thought we'd call into the tourist office and find out what there was to see and do in Bremen. We thought we'd go and do a tour of the Becks' Brewery, but we weren't sure if the tours were running in English at that time of the afternoon. The nice lady in the tourist office called and confirmed that there was a tour leaving in 20 minutes that we could go on. We paid and jumped on a couple of trams and made our way to the brewery (We could've walked but we'd paid for an all day ticket so we thought we'd make the most of it).
The tour was pretty cool. The first half was about the history of the beer, and the brewing process, and then the second half we got to enjoy the fruits of the tour; The drinks at the end.First we were given 2 drinks and had to decide which ones they were, we got neither of them right!! Then we were given another 2 or 3 drinks, so it turned out to be a pretty good value tour. Now next time you have a Becks and see Bremen on the label you can say "Dan and Benita have been there!"
By the time we left the brewery it was about 7.30, so we thought we'd go in search of some dinner. The options were limited in the area that we were, but we managed to find a pub type restaurant that was doing Tuesday Night, Schnitzel night, so we thought we'd have another one. I of course had another Jager Schnitzel and Dan had another peppery sauce one. These were by bar the best of the 4 schnitzels' we'd had in the past week. We left very full and content and jumped on a tram back to the hotel as it was too cold to be outside walking around.
We woke to our last day in German with a surprise. Opening the curtains we saw snow the size of small bunnies falling from the sky. The ground was completely covered with at least 20 cm's. Although it looked pretty, I was a little bit concerned that we were flying out that evening and if it didn't clear up we might not have been able to go anywhere!!
We left our bags at the hotel and headed into town. The town of Bremen is really quite nice, with old buildings in the square. And the fresh coating of snow made it all prettier. There really wasn't that much to see and do in Bremen. We found the 'Town Musicians of Bremen", a statue of a donkey, dog, cat and a rooster all standing on each other. Apparently it comes from a story by The Brothers Grimm of the same name. We did a bit of a walk around the shops, then set up in a lovely German Chain Pub. The Chain pub seems to be all the go in England, and this is the first one we've found outside of the UK. They're great; cheap food and drinks at a pretty good quality. I of course enjoyed my last German meal, and ordered another Jager Schnitzel. It wasn't as good as others I'd had (I had become a bit of a connoisseur by this stage) but still delicious.
After lunch we trekked back through the snow to the hotel and collected our bags. We jumped on the train for a few stops, which took us to the Bremen Airport. Our main reason for the visit to Bremen was because the cheapest flights to Edinburgh out of Germany left from there. Once we'd walked into the airport, we had to walk right down to the other end to find the Ryanair terminal, which was little more than a tin shed. It was also completely deserted. There was maybe half a dozen passengers sitting around, but not a single member of staff at the check in desks or customer service desk. We were way too early for our flight, but we decided waiting out the time in a warm airport terminal was nicer than stumbling around in the snow and ice. We checked the monitors to make sure that the horrid weather hadn't delayed our flight, but to our horror, our flight was not up on the departures list. We checked all our documents, making sure we had the right dates, airport, times etc, but it was all right. We had to go in search of a Ryanair staff member to find out what the hell was going on, but alas there was no one to ask. We wandered right back up to the main airport and found someone there who had no idea what we were going on about, so we just decided to wait it out in the Ryanair shed. After some time, a single Ryanair employee arrived (Now, there would've been at least 100 passengers waiting to check in for other flights), but she refused to answer my question and walked off on me. Rude much?Eventually, another staff member told me that for some unknown reason it wasn't showing on the boards, no need to stress.
Onto our next problem of the day; the same old problem. Too much weight in the bags. Usually Ryanair aren't too strict on the weight of the carry-on luggage, provided you've got it all in the one bag. But after watching one group go through the security, every single person had their bags weighed. With an allowance of 15kg for our checked luggage, and 10kg for each of the hand luggage - that gave us a total of 35kg that needed to be spread between the 3 bags. After using the bag scales that were in the terminal, we concluded we had about 37.5 kg's. We spread everything as evenly as we could, then took out our books and stuck them in Dan's coat pockets. We eventually checked our bags and headed through security. Dan got picked on, having to take off his shoes, have a pat down, then have his bag searched. Nothing like airport security.
We'd budgeted our Euro's down to about 2.50, just enough to buy a bottle of coke before our 7.30pm departure. The only place in the airport to get a coke were charging 2.80. Not enough. Damn. So we had to wait out the 2 hours in the terminal, thirsty.
Finally our plane pulled up to the gate, everyone pilled off, they cleaned up and we were allowed to board. Sitting on the plane, captain announces we're ready to go, just have to hose the ice off the wings, and we should depart bang on time. Wings get hosed, but we're still sitting at the gate. After about 20 minutes we reverse out and taxi out a little to near the start of the runway. We sat in the plane here for about 40 minutes. The captain then came on telling us that we'd lost our departure spot and it shouldn't be too long until we could go (Already an hour late). 5 minutes later the captain is telling us that we're going back to the gate and when we get there everyone needs to get off the plane and take all his or her belongings with them, and we would need to go back around through security. Everyone lugs their s*** off the plane and goes back around through security, then re-boards the plane (This takes another hour - now 2 hours late). Once everyone is on board again, the door is slammed shut and we're out on the runway and in the air within about 2 minutes. I've never seen a plane move so quickly out of the airport. Once in the air the captain informed us that the security staff of the tin shed, didn't believe that their x-ray machines weren't working properly, so rather than rescan us all while we were waiting to board the plane for the first time, they let us get all the way out to the runway before making us go back again.
The flight to Edinburgh was only about 1.5 hours, but when we were close to Edinburgh heavy snow had started to fall, and we needed to circle around for half an hour or so until all the runways were cleared. We eventually landed, cleared immigration (With a lovely immigration officer - people are just so much nicer in Scotland!!), collected our bags, and made our way to the airport bus. So instead of boarding a bus into the city at 9.30, it was almost midnight. We hadn't eaten or drank anything since our midday lunch, so we had to grab some Maccas before going to bed. Not ideal, or healthy, but the absolute only option available to us. It didn't take much to send us sleep at around 1am!