Battle of the Paddles | Rowing in Bremen’s Bürgerpark

Germany is a country full of big cities, each with something very different to offer tourists. Bremen is one of the lesser known ones. It has to compete with great metropolises such as Berlin and Dusseldorf that are full of visitors from across the globe. You can see why it gets forgotten about when people come to visit Germany. Though my experience of Bremen makes me want to change this. It is a vibrant city at a crossroads between its vivid history and new emerging modernisms. The juxtaposition between the two makes it a complex and exciting city to visit.

One of the must sees of Bremen is the famous Bürgerpark, which spans across a great proportion of the city. The park is home to miles and miles of natural woodland, wildlife and activities for visitors. We thought it was the perfect place to escape for an afternoon. We brought a picnic with us, which we had bought from the market in the centre of town. We sat next to a lake with fountain features and ate while minding our own business. Seagulls flew near the water and ducks were pecking at food nearby, the various bird noises being the only sound. The park is an escape from the city and it’s that big you feel like you’re in a completely different place altogether. Anyone that loves nature will be completely at home here, you won’t find many places like this in the other big cities. It’s just one of the reasons why Bremen is the perfect alternative destination.

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To burn off the food we had for lunch we decided to continue walking around the park and see how much of it we could explore. If you’re wanting a more luxurious eating experience than our picnic then I suggest going to the Meierei restaurant or the café at Lake Emmasee, both have been serving refreshments since around 1900 and you will be in very good hands there.

Just like us people were out in full force taking advantage of the nice weather and engaging in a whole range of activities – whether that be a simple walk through the woodland or playing in the playground, which several German families were doing. Even I couldn’t resist the swings (much to the amusement of a German woman who laughed when she walked past!)

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My favourite part of the Bürgerpark however, was the little hut that we found on the edge of Lake Emmasee. Here (for approximately 20Euros – prices vary by hour.) you can hire a small wooden rowing boat. We were eager to give it a try despite not being avid rowers. I don’t think I’ve ever rowed before, but the opportunity to get on the lake and glide past the beautiful scenery was too good to pass up. After handing the owner our money we not so gracefully stepped into the boat. It tipped from side to side and before I could fall over the edge my partner sat me down. We each grabbed our oars and tried to get into a rhythm, so we could actually move more than just a few meters away from the hut. After a few squabbles we managed to get into the open part of the lake, next to the café. Our next challenge was to try and direct our little boat down this narrow river which leads off from the lake. I thought I would be a fish to water with this (no pun intended!) but it turns out these boats are trickier than you think to control and we were having some problems. The boat ended up colliding into the side of a bank. My partner started to get annoyed and I’m sure the whole episode was very amusing for the group of people stood on the bridge looking at us struggle. I did eventually manage to break us free from the reeds and we were on our way again, we both found the funny side of it and the rest of the journey was done in good spirits and no more crashes!

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As our hour was nearly up we were ready to head back. By this point it’s fair to say we had got the hang of it. We were flying across the water passing the lily pads and the beautiful green banks. We went under bridges and people waved at us from above. We went under tree branches, which had crept over onto the water. You could reach out and touch the leaves as you moved under them. The park is home to a complete system of little rivers and streams for you to explore. If you wanted I’m sure you could spend the best part of a day rowing your way around the park. We would have done exactly that but our bodies were starting to ache from the workout. We were eager to retire back to the hut and find a nice chilled out place for an icy cocktail!

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Rowing in the Bürgerpark was a fun alternative way to spend the day. It’s something that we wouldn’t have thought about doing. Bremen is good for things like this, it doesn’t have the famous attractions such as Berlin but it does have charm and lots of fun activities for you to discover for yourself! If more people visit Bremen then I’m sure it will be able to complete with the much bigger cities.

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