May is a goldmine of German public holidays. There’s May Day on May 1st, Christi Himmelfahrt, Ascension Day mid-may, and Pfingsten, Pentecost one week after Christi Himmelfahrt. These holidays = days off from work. Pretty groovy, right? What I am about to write makes it even better. If one of those days off falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday, you also get a Brückentag, lit. bridge day, off of work! Get it? The bridge day bridges the gap between the holiday and the weekend. I had three four-day weekends in May. This type of planning is nothing short of glorious!
I spent Christi Himmelfahrt visiting two more northern port cities, namely Lübeck and Bremerhaven. As luck would have it, I was very sick on the days before Christi Himmelfahrt, so I lost two travel days. The trip turned out to be great anyway. I will start with Bremerhaven.
Bremerhaven is a port city on the North Sea that belongs to the city-state Bremen. Bremerhaven is not pretty; it is a working city. Still, I like blue-collar towns, and I wanted to visit the Deutsches Auswandererhaus, or German Museum of Outward Migration. This museum is dedicated to the people who have emigrated from Europe. Bremerhaven is a logical choice for location, because 7.2 million people left Europe via Bremerhaven. The museum was voted European Museum of the Year in 2007, and after a visit, I can see why. I enjoy interactive museums, mostly because I like to touch things. There are listening stations, costumes, stairs, and neat lighting throughout the museum. Of all the exhibits I got to interact with, I have two favorites. The first is the room filled with maps and tiny drawers. The maps show changes in European borders. Each of the drawers contains letters and other information that belonged to a person who actually emigrated from Bremerhaven. The second interactive exhibit was the bathroom in the reproduction living quarters on a typical ship used during the high point of German outward emigration. If you sat on the toilet, the screen in front of would activate and impart all sorts of interesting ship bathroom and hygiene knowledge. The same is true for the sink. Turning the knob activates the screen on the bottom of the basin. Very creative!
I spent the rest of my one day in Bremerhaven walking around, taking photos of boats and eating fish rolls. A second day would have been lovely, but I am happy that I got the chance to see Bremerhaven at all. This trip was the first I have ever done alone. It was lonely at times, but mostly I enjoyed being able to do whatever I wanted to at whichever pace I wanted. It was a liberating experience.
- Bremerhaven: official website
- Deutsches Auswandererhaus: German Museum of Outward Migration
- Atlantic Hotel am Flötenkiel: somewhat cheesy yet clean and decent hotel with free breakfast and WiFi. When I left my laptop’s AC adapter in my room, they were happy to mail me a new one. Thanks!