Bremen and the Northwest

This area encompasses the "free city" of Bremen and the Frisian heartland. If you hang around Germans long enough, you will inevitably be subjected to the Ostfriesenwitze, the East Frisian "jokes". The punch line is always that the Ostfriesen are 1) dumb and 2) cheap. Sort of like the "Pollack" jokes you here in the States, (Memo for our German readers: Do NOT attempt to show your knowledge of "Americana" by relating Pollack jokes in Chicago or any other midwest industrial might find that WW-II is still fresh in the mind of some.) For obvious reasons, it is wise to refrain from impressing your hosts with such "humour"...

The place to start is obviously BREMEN, which is home of Werder Bremen . The city has jealously guarded it's indepedance, and indeed remains one of the Länder that make up the Federal Republic. This is important because Bremen maintains it's own 4th division. Wise guys might point out that Bremen should have more jealously guarded Otto Rehagel, who probably did more for local soccer. As far as the non-soccer sights, the most important is the Bierakademie on Herdentorsteinweg. Tour books would have you wander around the medieval Altstadt, but actually it's all fake, since it was bombed into oblivion in WWII. Nevertheless, you probably want to do that and take pictures of the Rathaus, home of the local rats, err, politicians. Another interesting trip, if you're on expense account, is the Ratskeller, which has some 600 wines and decent food, albeit a bit pricey. According to some obscure law, they can't serve beer, so you don't want to dawdle there too long. You also should see if you can get a tour of the Beck's Brewery, although the beer is arguably better known in the U.S. than Germany.

Aside from Werder, there are several minor clubs in the immediate Bremen vicinity, among them Blumenthaler SV. As mentioned, Bremen has it's own 4th division, but don't expect to see anybody but Werder outside the neighborhoods.

The port town of BREMERHAVEN is about 35 km up the road. Some port. The main attraction is not yet there, actually. There are plans to turn the harbour area into some type of maritime theme park, drawing in millions and millions of visitors and billions of DM. This is opposed by some of the loca lefties, who don't want another Disneyland. Ha! They should be so lucky. It will however draw in billions of DM, probably in subsidies. In the meantime, you might consider the local club scene, which include teams like FC Bremerhaven, OSC Bremerhaven, Sparta Bremerhaven etc. None of them are really any good, but there is certain to be some interesting local derby available.

Only 5 km west of Bremen, DELMENHORST is a pretty worthless town. It is not mentioned in any tourist guides, so there probably isn't even the de rigeur art museum to ignore. There is a soccer club, Atlas Delmenhorst, so your visit will not be a total waste

Continuing west from Delmenhorst, we come to the city of OLDENBURG, which is a major center in Friesland. One of the more frightening things is that some of the restuarants around the Wallstraße apparently serve Budweiser. So much for the Reinheitsgebot! (What's next? Beer at McDonald's? Disneyland in France?) This should probably outrage you enough to leave town immediately, but if you stay, check out the local club VfB Oldenburg made a surprise appearance in the 2.Liga a few years ago.

On the western side of the Jadebusen, (not what you might think!), is the town of WILHELMSHAVEN, another port. Again, you've probably been "ported out", but there is a soccer team to check out, SV Wilhelmshaven 92 , if they haven't gone bankrupt yet.

Moving west, just outside of Wilhelmshaven, we have the important town of JEVER. Although guide books always mention the castle and the church, the main reason to go is that this is the home of the famed Jever Brewery. The Jever-Pils is the flagship of Frisian brews, and is known throughout Germany as an excellent fresh, yet bitter pilsner. A tour of the Brewery costs DM 10, but also gets you 0.6 liters of the brew, along with a souvenir glass. After learning about the finer points of brewing, head for more research at the Bier-Akademie on Bahnhofstraße. This assumes of course that you don't just head straight to the Haus der Getreuen, which is the Gastätte owned by Jever Brewery, and just across the street. There is no soccer worth mentioning, so it's best to visit during midweek...

In the extreme west, is the economic and cultural mecca of Ost Friesland, the port city of EMDEN. Not much of a reason to go here, unless you're perhaps looking for the spot where your ancestors got on a boat to New York. There is an unusual museum in town, the Bunker Museum, which is an actual air raid shelter. The local soccer club is Kickers Emden, which has a somewhat respectable amateur pedigree.

As for the various Ostfriesen-Inseln, the East Frisian Islands, unless you want to avoid soccer and empty your wallet, they are best avoided, although you may get dragged there by your wife. If so, insist on a midweek trip so at least you're back on the mainland for the weekend soccer matches.

(c) Abseits Guide to Germany :