ASIAN AIR SAFARI NEW EPISODE | Germany Part 2: Bremen's Cultural Treasure
I have been exploring Northern Germany where the defining periods of the country and the European continent took place thousands of years ago In the middle of it all is Bremen, an independent Hanseatic City Its streets and corners are replete with stories and I have been fortunate to learn about them one by one In the second part of this adventure, I discover more of this city’s hidden histories hearing it straight from its proud citizens! I enjoyed walking Bremen’s streets and discovering its nearby towns I visited nearby Visbek, where I met the guys behind Towflexx Aircraft Tugs whose products are now known all over the world. Today, the guys are taking a break and have promised to show me around the heart of the city Okay Joy, so right now we in the city center of Bremen and you can see all the old historic buildings around us and right behind us, we got the Town Hall of Bremen And what is it called? It's the "Rathaus" in Bremen That would be the German term of it and whenever there are big celebrations like the famous soccer club here in Bremen wins any cups they would celebrate here on one of these balconies and all the city is crowded with thousands of people. Want to check it from the inside? Oh, would love to.
what does rat mean in Germany? it's the councilors, the local councilors Yeah council, basically it's a council Okay good yup, I'd like to see it. Are we able to go in? Let's find out! During World War II, around 60% of Bremen was destroyed by bombing. The Rathaus and the statue of Roland miraculously survived.
They are now inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites The Rathaus continues to be the office of the Mayor and the President of the Senate of Bremen. A whale jawbone welcomes visitors to the main lobby – a nod to Bremen’s shipping industry. The first room we were showed was the ballroom, built around 1909 A beautiful dark oak paneling surrounds the walls, in contrast with the bright ceiling where a rectangular Art Noveau chandelier hangs. At the end of the ballroom is a small circular room, which was built for Kaiser Wilhelm II when he visited the town hall. It’s nice to rest where the Kaiser once sat! Another remarkable room is the Golden Chamber It was built in 1595 but remodeled in the Art Noveau style in the 19th century. The walls are decorated with leather wallpaper gilded in gold, Finally, we get to the Upper Hall, a very impressive room reminiscent of Bremen’s maritime heritage.
In fact, it felt like being inside a ship, with the intricately carved wood sculptures stained glass windows, wooden floor boards, and painted oak beams running overhead. Suspended overhead are carefully crafted models of ships. The mini cannons can actually be loaded and fired on special occasions, but the practice is now discontinued as it breaks the windows. On the walls are paintings from different time periods, but one of the largest is a fresco done in 1532 depicting an Old Testament story. So they have here the painting of King Solomon, it’s of course about the child that he gave away to the real mother who didn’t want the child to be killed.
It cautions city elders to be as wise as King Solomon in their judgment and decisions. It was very interesting to see the town hall, where Bremen’s history was shaped by its freedom loving citizens. After seeing its upper floors, I was happy to go down to the lower floors, where the famous Bremen Ratskeller is found. The Ratskeller is the town hall’s restaurant and wine cellar, which has also been around for 600 years. Ornate wine barrels and vaulted ceilings take you back in time.
These are private booths on the sides of the hall, traditionally used by merchants and shipowners to discuss business more privately. Today, it’s not so much about business, but an introduction to Northern German cuisine. Phil, Florian and I were joined by Stefan, Chief Operating Officer of Towflexx.
all we ordered are special German, most of it Northern German dishes. t's fried potatoes, eggs… yes that is pork. We got a fish So around this area…I mean we have the North Sea close to Breman and yeah, there is a lot of fish around here. A lot of potatoes all the time? German's like their potatoes. yes Potatoes, bread, and sausages. So Phil you have converted into the German meals? I'm on the German way yeah, there's no English breakfast here that's for sure.
Well, I think we'll have to see if I will survive the German and finish the German meal. I think I'm only good for 1/4 German appetite. I tried the traditional Bremen Knipp, a sausage made of pork or beef blended with oats and spices, and usually eaten with some apple sauce.
It's kind of a special sausage which is pan fried. It's a big sausage! It's for a giant! the apple sauce gives it a good flavour Perfect! Just the right dish for you. Yup! So yeah asparagus is very common here as well. I do like it. Good asparagus soup.
I think the bread crumbs are in it as well. Crutons yeah. The food was good, and very filling.
I can imagine that this was the place to wine and dine in 1405, and it’s amazing that we can still enjoy it, many centuries later! Up Next – There are more secrets to discover in the Ratskeller, as I go down the much lower floors for an exclusive look inside Bremen’s wine cellars, which house Germany’s oldest wines! The power struggle between the church and state forms a huge part of Bremen’s history. The statue of Roland, facing the cathedral is actually a message by the merchants reminding the church of their autonomy. This conflict extends to the history of Bremen’s famous wine cellar – the Ratskeller, Germany’s largest and oldest collection of wines I met up with Marcus, one of the Ratskeller’s wine experts, who will take me on journey into history and into the city’s prized cellars.
the wine trading in the past in Germany was a part of the church actually. in the past, they have to need a lot of wine for the mass yeah! And you know because in the Philippines, there are also a lot of Catholic people and so we need a lot lot lot wine here in Bremen and from Bremen, because of the situation is we have a harbor we have the river Easy for people to move things around. then you can move the wine in other destinations.
So then after a while, here in Bremen, the merchants become stronger and bigger they took the right of wine trading from the church. everything starts in our cave, I will show you now Marcus leads me down a series of stairs, opening doors that only a few people have access to. Along the way, we see nostalgic pieces from the Ratskeller’s long history – But Marcus reminds me that this is still a working cellar, where wines are carefully selected, stored, and shipped to different parts of the world. The person responsible for this careful selection and for managing the treasures kept in these cellars, the Ratskeller Meister. this is the tasting room of my boss.
So he does this everyday? take a seat, now you are the boss, you are from the cave And then you drink and then... this is our examples from all the wine makers And then now he has to decide... what kind of wine will be part of our collection. because there's a lot of wine you have to taste, we don't drink it, we spit them and this is why we have this spitting stuff on the floor yeah. It's interesting how you have to... you're obliged to drink and try As we continued down into the storage areas, Marcus shares a lot of anecdotes for each label, reflecting his vast experience and expertise. He explains to me that the Bremen’s city seal is a form of quality assurance.
the official coat of the arms of Bremen. it also means we have this label on the bottle, it's quality, like a quality label. And here we have the two lions and this is like the key. In Breman, we say this is the key to open the world because we like to travel, and there's another beautiful city in North Germany, Hamburg And they have the coat of the arms actually is a door, a big door.
And we always say like you have the door to the world, but we have the key. As we descended to another level, we reached a heavy, wooden door. this is the door of maybe our most famous and impressive room. This is cave where we find the oldest wines of Germany actually we call this "Treasure Chamber". We entered the chamber where ancient barrels are still kept.
so actually this part is the old barrels in the past there's no wine inside. Now you can say that this part is like the museum part They used to contain wine of about a thousand liters each, but now they only hold the thousand and one stories of the cellar. At the far end, Marcus shows me a locked storage area This is called Schatzkammer So Shatz is "my treasure". My treasure! My treasure, the treasure of the city and of our boss, the Ratskellermeister. And "Kammer" is "chamber" so our treasure chamber.
And unfortunately this is the only part of the Ratskeller I have no key They're smart, they kept the key from you. There's only Abel my boss, the Kellermeister, and the cheif of the town hall, the Mayor of Bremen. So he has a key as well these wines are not for selling Just for keeping.
it's like a library of the different kind of years it's really a treasure for you. so we have to keep it for the next generation and the next generation. So the oldest wine you can see here inside is from 1727. Wow! Very interesting I thought I’ve seen the highlight of the cellar, but Marcus had saved the best for last.
Actually this is like my... our cathedral of wine maybe in Germany or worldwide. Yup okay, I'll follow you.
It does feel like I'm in a cathedral. A small gate led us to the Cave of the Rose which contained the Ratskeller’s prized barrel. I like this noise.
Yeah the squeaking sound. So this is like the altar? yeah you can say because here we have the maybe the oldest barrel of wine from 1653. In the past, the 1653 Rudesheim wine could only be sampled by very important people, including the Mayor of Bremen – but with a drink only the size of a thimble. the last person, she had she was able to try a little bit of this wine cause now it's forbidden was the queen. The English queen, she had the possibility to have a little sip. she went to eat upstairs in the town hall when she went to this place, she was able to taste this kind of wine.
Now I have to be a king! Yeah no I have to be the mayor and you the king. This is the best idea! It was an incredible experience, to be able to see and even smell one of the world’s oldest wines, as we can’t really tell until when it can be kept. Finally, we were back on the street level. In the Ratskeller’s wine shop, Marcus lets me sample a very good Riesling, one of the wines Germany is known for.
Smells good! Yeah. Taste? Prost! Prost! (Cheers! in German) Fruity the variety of Riesling is you have the fruitiness, you have more acidity and of course, you have some sugar inside So I call this always yin and yang wine. So it's really fine and balance yeah. If now the weather's better in summer, then you can really enjoy this on the balcony, in the garden It was a nice way to end the day in the city hall, where its historic treasures can be found not only in its upper floors, but all the way down to its foundations. Up Next – I explore another area of Bremen, known for its charming little streets and wrap up my test drive of the Audi E-tron, in this final leg of my European journey! Bremen is a lively city, and everything seems to be within minutes of its market square. I walk to the Schnoor quarter, Bremen’s oldest district.
This area is where fishermen and sailors used to live. The streets of the Schnoor quarter have been named as some of the most beautiful streets in the world. ‘Schnoor’ means ‘rope’, reflecting the rope-making trade that used to flourish here. The charming section of the city used to be Bremen’s poorest area, which is why the plots of land are cut to only 55 square meters – just enough for a single house. The church of St. John, the oldest building in the Schnoor,
was built in the 14th century. Today, its narrow streets are filled with medieval houses and shops, and it’s very interesting to walk around. There are art and craft shops, galleries, and cafes. Now this is the shop for me. I belong to this store. Even the world’s smallest hotel can be found in one of its tiny alleys – and it only has one room! Some alleys are so narrow, you hardly have to stretch your arms to touch either side.
Though largely undamaged during World War II, the Schnoor quarter was in disrepair in the 1950’s, as residents struggled to pay for the costs of maintaining the old houses. The State of Bremen stepped in to help restore the old buildings, turning the area into one of Germany’s cultural treasures, and a popular tourist destination. It’s incredible what can be accomplished with political will, a respect for heritage, and cooperation between citizens and the state. As I end this European journey here in Germany, I also wrap up my test drive of the Audi E-Tron 55 Quattro, which I’ve put through its paces, driving through different kinds of road situations. In the past, it was powerful engines, bigger cars.
Then they came up with more economic cars, saving fuel. Then there's the hybrid but now, I think the future will be full electric. Here's a sample of one. Very lucky to be driving this around Europe, the Audio E-tron.
Outside, it looks very much like your typical Audi, until you look underneath the hood. popped the hood and no engine All I have are a bunch of wires. It has a variety of cables, from DC charging to home charging. you'll have to have an RFID card because without this you don't go anywhere. Tap it right here… Okay authorizing! All I have to do is plug it in. It's a C and that's a C. And there's a green light like it's breathing and charging Well let me take a look at this car while I'm charging The disk brakes are huge and it's 4 of them because the car is pretty heavy.
When you're driving very fast and you want to break all of a sudden, it's a heavy car moving you forward but these brakes handle it very well. I never had any problems so far. It has 21-inch alloy wheels, matrix LED headlights with dynamic indicators, and plenty of boot space, which I didn’t expect from its sporty appearance. On the road, it is solid, quiet and refined. you can see, it's nice and peaceful inside.
It's very quiet like there's no engine running. In fact, there's no engine really. But of course, it’s nothing short of powerful. All of its systems work together to help you drive as economically as possible, making sure your drive range is used efficiently.
Having driven from Paris, to Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany I can say that the public infrastructure for electric charging is already catching up so there’s no reason for range anxiety. These are very big strides in automotive technology, and I’m glad to get to see and experience it all in my lifetime. It’s nice to end this journey here in Bremen, a place that is not only the setting of a fairytale, but of history itself – unfolding and defining Germany as we know it today. This has been your Captain, Joy Roa. See you in the next Asian Air Safari! Wait a minute… German Air Safari!