Thinking of Bremen
This morning I was going to run with Shana, but she couldn’t make it, so I decided to go for a swim instead. I think my shoulder’s well and truly on the mend, so it’s time to start pushing the distance a little, and 1,000m seemed like a nice number to try. Not too fast though - just a steady pace.
I’d forgotten how great it is to swim at the Gym’s pool in the early morning, and for most of the session, it was just me in the water, under the watchful, if bored eye of the lifeguard.
I’m delivering a fairly intense training programme at the moment, and had three identical 2 1/2 hour sessions scheduled for today, so I was driving. When I got in the car, I put my iPod on shuffle and waddya know, the first two tracks to come on were “Sanity” by Bad Religion, and “Ribbons” by The Sisters of Mercy.
Two bands I’d seen with Tall Friend in that order at the Go Bang Fastival in Bremen 15 years ago. Hmmmm….
The festival was in that period after finishing our Finals, but before getting our degree results. We’d chosen to fly out on a Saturday, see the festival on Sunday, and fly back Monday morning. Although flying was more expensive than the coach/ferry, it meant we didn’t need to stay in Germany for a whole week until we could get the return coach - the saving on [hotels and] beer would make it worth while.
Anyway, we arrived at Bremen airport at around lunchtime on a hot summer’s day. After the four mile walk into the town, we found a picturesque square, with a bar spread out over it. We took a couple of seats, and soon the waiter came over, and we negotiated a couple of Dunkel (dark) Beers - der Altes Freündlich (”the old friend?”). We finished these . . . and soon attracted the waiter to come over to refill the glasses. As we finished these, there was the waiter, asking if perhaps another couple would go down well. Just before these were sunk, the waiter caught our eye from the other side of the bar, and held up two questioning fingers - two more beers? You can see how this was going.
The upshot of this is that we drank our hotel money. We had plenty of beer money left . . . just no more hotel money.
But we were young and hardy - so why should that bother us? We walked more or less back toward the airport, and found a likely looking hedge to sleep under. Unfortunately is was right next to a drainage ditch full of mosquitoes, and even through the fog of our Old Friend, it was clear that neither of us could sustain the level of blood loss we were incurring. So we moved to a park we’d passed on the way back out of town.
This was 1992, not long after the Berlin Wall had come down, and most of the ‘comfortable’ benches had been taken by East Germans, with a heavy haze of cheep booze around them. So we opted for our default plan, and ducked under a hedge to sleep. Turns out this was a good idea - at 3 am the local police came around with their dogs to clear the park of vagrants, and we got overlooked.
On Sunday we went to the festival. Highlights included seeing someone roll a ‘cigarette’ that would put the Camberwell Carrot to shame, the most ruthlessly efficient beer tents I’ve ever seen, a great stall selling half chickens, oh, and some pretty good acts.
After the end of the festival, we got a bus back into town, and after the standard of the previous night’s accommodation, decided to crash at the airport. So we walked back toward the airport, but rather than following the big loop of the road, opted for a short cut across some park land, to enter the airport buildings kinda from the rear.
Halfway across the fields, we were met by the rather well armed airport security. Tall Friend speaks German, but was rather flustered by the situation. While he was trying to figure out what the problem was, I supposed that all we had to do was show our passports & tickets, and then everything would be OK. So I dropped our bag and started rummaging through it . . . which I think was the point at which the automatic weapons were brought out, and the safety catches disengaged.
It turned out that Bremen’s airport is only a small provincial one, and was CLOSED at night. And black clad hoodlums trying to sneak in through the back of the facility in the middle of the night were just the sort of thing to attract attention. But once the police had realised that we were just looking for somewhere to sleep before boarding Monday’s first plane out, their tone changed. No, they couldn’t let us in, and suggested the railway station - four miles back into town.
We didn’t sleep too well there though (too many excitedly drunk Germans), and ended up back under our hedge in the park.
Basically, I didn’t sleep on Saturday night at all, went to the festival, and then didn’t sleep on Sunday night either. By dawn on Monday, this had caught up with me, and things started to get a bit weird - minor hallucinations, problems with spacial awareness. Stuff like that. And no, it wasn’t the beer - the money for that had run out some 14 hours earlier.
Well, we made our flight, which had some nice soft warm seats to sleep in, and eventually got home.
Sounds like I didn’t have a good time in Bremen, but on the contrary, it was just one of the best silly things to do with 48 hours when I was an almost broke student. . . . hindsight makes everything look rosy, doesn’t it!
- Type: Swim
- Date: 12/13/2007
- Time: 23:15:20
- Total Time: 00:26:00.00
- Distance: 997.79 m
- Average Pace: 2:36.43/100m