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Phespirit goes to Germany
Bremen     July 2011

A grey-white mantle hung low over Bremen waiting to greet Phespirit's arrival with heavy, irregular gobs of rain. As he set out on the fifteen minute walk from the airport to his hotel these gobs decreased in size and increased in number to become a regular wind-blown rain shower. Already Phespirit doubted that his weather-beaten umbrella could take three days of even such mild punishment. Not for the first time was he finding a summer break in Germany to be considerably less than summery.

There was little improvement on his first full day. Precipitation persisted in a fine, delicate form that never necessitated an umbrella but was nonetheless annoying. Phespirit took shelter in the city's museums: the Werder Bremen 'Wuseum'; Gerhard-Marcks-Haus; the Paula-Modersohn-Becker-Museum; the Übersee-Museum; and the Focke Museum. There wasn't much material for the English reader among these but plenty of visual appeal throughout. No single museum stands out so recommendations will depend on an individual's taste for football, sculpture, art, overseas culture or mementos of twentieth century Bremen.

The next day's skies were dirty but dry so Phespirit headed to the hauptbahnhof to catch a train to Bremerhaven, a major port on the Atlantic coast. There he spent a lot of his time in the Deutsche Schiffahrtsmuseum - the German maritime museum - which has an indoor exhibition space of 8000 square feet and an outdoor harbour filled with historic ships. When an inevitable flurry of light drizzle came in the early afternoon, Phespirit took shelter in U-2540 "Wilhelm Bauer", the last surviving World War II U-boat. Setting aside the difficulty of getting his 6' 4" frame through a succession of submarine hatches, this was an enlightening experience.

For Phespirit's last day in Bremen the rain stayed away, the wind dropped and the temperature rose a couple of degrees, but the sun remained absent. It still did not feel like July. The city gained a summer holiday feel, however, thanks to literally hundreds of kids that were swarming the streets. Most of these were wearing identical blue T-shirts that proclaimed they were participating in some sort of "run 4 peace". Whatever it was, Phespirit did his utmost to keep out of their way: by diverting himself around the pretty Schnoorviertel quarter; by visiting the cathedral, its museum and tower; and by taking a stroll up and down the sides of the Weser river.

And then as he was sitting outside, some time after half six on his last evening, he felt warmer and all the world around him glowed brighter. Phespirit looked up and saw that half the sky remained grey but the other half had turned clear brilliant blue. The sun stood at the border between the two. An hour later the last traces of cloud had vanished completely, treating Phespirit to a crepuscular glimpse of what his brief German summer might have been like. Alas this year it wasn't to be, but with large swathes of this vast country still to be visited, maybe next year ..... or the year after ..... or the year after .....

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