Cycling in Germany #16 – Celle and Bremen

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Bad weather has struck so we’ve studied the weather report and after a day of R&R at Kunsthof Pension in Dahrenstedt we’re off to Bremen via Celle which has over 400 timber-framed houses.

Church and farm building in Dahrenstedt
Church and farm building in the little village of Dahrenstedt

We are going back into the former West Germany today and wonder whether it will be noticeable. Nothing could be more flagrant! The houses are different, there are more gardens and trees, more shops in the towns and village. Everything is neat and tidy again, there are no more ruins. However, there is also a small forest with prostitutes’ vans from one end to the other, which is a little worrying.

Painted faces and hair in Bremen
Painted faces and hair in Bremen

The first thing we see when we arrive in Celle are teenagers with colourfully dyed hair and faces. The lady in the tourist office tells me they are celebrating the end of high school. She doesn’t speak enough English to tell me whether it is only a custom in Celle or something that happens throughout Germany.

The Rathaus in Celle
The Rathaus in Celle

Miraculously the grey clouds have made way for the sun so we take lots of photos before lunch just in case it starts raining again.

Painted façades in Celle
Painted façades in Celle

From 1378 to 1705, Celle was the official residence of the Lüneburg branch of the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg. In 1534, the Reformation was introduced into Celle. From 1655 to 1705 Celle experienced a cultural boom under Duke George William mainly due to his French wife Eléonore d’Olbreuse who brought fellow Hugenot Christians and Italian architects to Celle.

House built in 1622
House built in 1622

The result is a wonderful collection of colourful timber-framed houses with learned German inscription on them. They are often dated so we set out to find the oldest – 1526 – but it is nowhere to be seen.

House in Celle built in 1622
House in Celle built in 1622

We look for a place to eat and finally settle on the Schweine-Schulze which has a terrace in a shady street and is serving kotelett und pfifferlings. Our trocken weiss wein has just arrived when there is a sudden downpour. Everyone is swept inside and we finish our excellent meal at a rough wooden table. We discover we’re not the only famous people to eat here – Helmut Khol and Gerhard Schröder are also patrons.

Schweine restaurant in Celle
Schweine restaurant in Celle

By the time we finish, the sun has come out again so we finish our visit, ending with the French gardens attributed to Eléonore d’Olbreuse. We don’t have time to visit the castle.

The French garden in Celle with the castle in the background
The French garden in Celle with the castle in the background

Bremen is only about an hour away but unbeknown to us, it has been the victim of a violent storm and trees are now covering some of the roads into the city causing an immense traffic jam.

The Rathaus and Cathedral in Bremen, in the Weser Renaissance style
The Rathaus and Cathedral in Bremen, in the Weser Renaissance style

We finally reach the Prizehotel, recommended by Andrea from Rearview Mirror in her post on Bremen, at about 6 pm. It’s an ultra-modern budget hotel, but has everything we need, including friendly, helpful staff, soundproof rooms, excellent wifi, light-blocking curtains and a comfortable bed. It even has decent pillows, which we had stopped expecting in East Germany.

Guild house in Bremen
My favourite buildng in Bremen – Schütting, an elegant home built in 1535-37 for the merchants’ guild

We set out to explore the city, which is a short walk away. We reach the tourist office in the train station just as it’s about to close and learn the existence of a Radstation (bike shop) nearby where we’ll be able to buy maps for the next part of our trip in Friesland, the only part of the Germany where it’s going to be fine for the next three days!

The Ratskeller restaurant in Bremen
The Ratskeller restaurant in Bremen

It starts raining but we take photos anyway despite the fact that the main square is full of white tents, and look for somewhere to have a drink. I see a sign saying Ratskeller. A ratskeller (meaning council’s cellar) is a bar or restaurant in the basement of the city hall in Germany and you see them everywhere.

One of the beautiful vats in the Ratskeller in Bremen
One of the beautiful vats in the Ratskeller in Bremen

It turns out to be one of the places in our tourist brochure and we can see why. Built in 1405, it is one of the oldest wine cellars in Germany with huge wooden vats, each with a different decor. I love the private booths and can imagine the town councillors hatching their plots behind closed doors.

Renaissance façade in Bremen
Another Weser Renaissance façade in Bremen

We have a glass of wine each with bruschetta and a dip because we’re not really hungry after our schwein kotelett lunch. That’s one of the great things about Germany – you can order as little or as much as you want.

Böttcherstrasse in Bremen with its art nouveau architecture
Böttcherstrasse in Bremen with its art nouveau architecture

When we emerge from our cellar, the sky has cleared up completely so we take our photos all over again and go looking for the places we haven’t seen yet, in particular, Böttcherstrasse and the Schnoorvietel.

Typical street in the Schnoor district
Typical street in the Schnoor district

I love Schnoorvietel which is full of tiny little streets with quaint houses built in the 15th to 17th century for sailors and fishermen. Since it has been raining, there is practically no one around so we have it to ourselves.

The little blue door
The little blue door

Just as we finish our visit, it starts raining again. We think we’ve done pretty well with the weather today all things considered.

Windmill in Bremen on the way home to our hotel
Windmill in Bremen on the way home to our hotel

Tomorrow we’re off to Friesland near the North Sea, land of windmills and dykes, which is the only part of Germany where it’s going to be sunny for the next three days and we can do some more cycling. Hope to see you there!


Cycling in Germany – Tips & Tricks
Cycling in Germany #1 – Kobern-Gondorf on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #2 – Rhine from Saint Goar to Lorch
Cycling in Germany #3 – Cochem to Zell on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #4 – Koblenz where the Moselle meets the Rhine
Cycling in Germany #5 – Bad Schaugen to Pirna along the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #6 – Bastei Rocks, Honigen and over the border to Czech Republic 
Cycling in Germany #7 – Dresden: accommodation & car trouble and Baroque Treasure  
Cycling in Germany #8 – Dresden Neustadt: Kunsthof Passage, Pfund’s Molkerei, a broom shop & trompe l’oeil
Cycling in Germany #9 – Country roads around Niderlommatzsch on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #10 – Meissen on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #11 – Martin Luther Country: Torgau on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #12 – Martin Luther Country: Wittenberg on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #13 – Wörlitz Gardens and the beginning of neo-classicism in Germany
Cycling in Germany #14 – Shades of Gaudi on the Elbe: Hundertwasser
Cycling in Germany – Turgermünde, the prettiest village on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #16 – Celle & Bremen
Cycling in Germany #17 – Windmills & Dykes
Cycling in Germany #18 – Painted façades from Hann. Münden to Höxter
Cycling in Germany #19 – Bernkastel on the Moselle: a hidden treasure
Cycling in Germany #20 – Trier & the Binoculars Scare
Cycling along the Danube – A Renaissance festival in Neuburg, Bavaria
Cycling along the Danube – Watch out for trains!
Cycling along the Danube – Regensburg & Altmuhle
Cycling along the Danube –  The Weltenburg Narrows
Cycling along the Danube – from its source to Ehingen
Cycling along the Danube – Ehingen to Ulm
Cycling along the Danube – Singmarigen to Beuron
Cycling along the Danube – Binzwangen to Mengen including  Zwiefalten
Eurovelo 6 – Cycling around Lake Constance
Eurovelo 6 – Moos to Stein am Rhein and Steckborn on Lake Constance
Heading home to France after a month’s cycling holiday
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38 thoughts on “Cycling in Germany #16 – Celle and Bremen”

  1. Even after all my years in Europe I can’t believe how rubbish the weather is in summer! Luckily the sun came out for you at some point.

    Celle looks quite nice, I might stop next time I’m passing through Germany.

    1. Last year along the Danube, it was much better, I have to confess. My photos do not do justice to Celle. It is quite charming.

  2. My husband has been to Celle for business but I haven’t made it there….yet. Nor to Bremen. I tend to prefer Bavaria but think I need to add these to my list. Really beautiful.

    I’ve found it interesting that, like me, you noticed some distinct differences in the old East Germany from the West. I hadn’t expected that.

    1. I have to say that I still prefer Bavaria but Celle is quite lovely. The problem in the north is that the interesting places to visit are much farther apart than they are in the south which means you often cycle quite a distance with the same sort of scenary.
      I hadn’t expected such differences between east and west either.

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