Der Frühlingsanfang (beginning of spring) holds lots of special memories for me. My first time in Germany was in the spring of 2016. There was a lot riding on this visit. It wasn’t just any long weekend away in Europe but a chance for me to check out Bremen before deciding to move here with my partner. The city had to sell itself to me, and much to my partners relief it did. How can you resist living in a city with picturesque windmill, a Bürgerpark to explore and the Weser River to stroll along?
This is my third year of experiencing spring time here. Before I go on, I should congratulate us all for surviving the winters months. Other Germany cities may differ, but here in Bremen it’s been a pretty grey, cold and miserable few months. Everyone hibernates. There’s not much to do other than console yourself with Kaffee und Kuchen and numerous box sets. In my opinion, Bremen is definitely best enjoyed when you can take part in outdoor activities without losing feeling in your fingers and toes. Time has moved very quickly since Christmas, I’m very glad for us to be three months in to the year and seeing the temperatures start to rise, for the evenings to become lighter and for the blue skies and flourishing Blumen to bring colour and life back in to our surroundings.
Thankfully das Frühlingserwachen (spring awakening) sees the frost disappear and the flowers start to bloom. Locally we have the Rhododendron Park to enjoy, which is best at this time of year. One of Bremen’s tourists hot spots, it has 46 hectares filled with Rhododendrons of all colours, shapes and sizes to weave your way around. It’s rather impressive, but not on the same scale as the Isle of Mainau in the south of Germany. This is one of the greatest floral displays you’re likely to witness here. We took a visit to the Isle on the edge of Bodensee in April 2017 after being recommended it by several people. You’re guaranteed to spend hours wandering around the 45 hectares of stunning gardens, taking in the views of Konstanz and the beautiful lake it sits on. I will be consoled on missing out on this in 2018 by spending a few weeks of spring in Japan. It’s my first ever visit to the country and I can’t wait to see the Sakura (Japanese for cherry blossom) that the country is famous for at this time of year. However, if you’re not planning a visit there any time soon, you can see cherry blossom right here in Germany. There are several areas in Bonn, Berlin, Munich, Dortmund and Hamburg lined with the fragrant flower. Each year a cherry blossom festival is held in Hamburg in May to celebrate the strong ties between Japan and Germany. Osaka is the sister city of Hamburg – a little bit of history I just found out whilst researching our trip. In 1968, the Japanese gifted 5,000 blossom trees to the Hanseatic city in thanks for the German’s hospitality, many Japanese businesses have offices here due to the strong international trade. Gifted cherry blossom and pandas, what more could a country ask for!
Even if the plants are, the Germans aren’t deterred by the weather. They will dine outside all year round but as the temperature becomes milder, it brings out those less hardened to the winter temperatures, including me. This Sunday just past I braved and enjoyed feasting at the first outdoors street food festival of the year. Around Germany the Biergartens will open and the benches along the Schlacte by the Weser will once again be filled as people partake in what seems to be the favoured pastime whatever month, drinking beer.
There’s no doubt the food of choice during Fruhlingszeit is Spargel. Sister to the available all year round green asparagus, it comes in to season in April to the delight of most Germans. It is often referred to as the ‘vegetable of kings’, ‘edible ivory,’ or ‘white gold’. I am yet to understand the hype, for me, green asparagus wins hands down. Between April and June, it’s hard to avoid it though as it pops up on menus everywhere, from being served with Hollandaise sauce and Schnitzel through to Spargel Suppe. My first taste of Spargel was in Heidelberg and I think that’s where I’ll let the memory remain. But who I am to argue with the thousands, if not millions, that love it in this country. Cherries, now that is a seasonal food hype to get involved with. One of my favourite things about Germany is their love for Kirschen and I can’t get enough of them, fresh or in Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. There is a strong love for all things cherry related in this post if you hadn’t noticed!
Although I won’t be spending Easter in Bremen this year, I couldn’t not give Ostern a mention. In the UK, like other festivities, there seems to be a heavy commercial aspect to it. As soon as Valentine’s Day is out of the way the supermarket aisles are lined with chocolate Easter eggs; Cadbury’s, Nestle, Mars, Thorntons. Year upon year the egg grows in size and the decor becomes more elaborate. The varieties produced increases as does the packaging waste. However, here in Germany I’ve barely seen any large Easter eggs in boxes. Yes, there are chocolate eggs and bunnies on sale but not on the same scale as the UK. Chloe has explained more about the Easter traditions here, including the emphasis on the egg hunt and finding smaller goodies hidden around the home and local parks. It delights me to see there is much more emphasis on Easter decorations and displays.
Last Friday the Osterwiese arrived in town. It’s been a good few months since the Weihnachtsmarkt was here so we were ready for the fun fair rides, indulgent food stalls, beer pavillions and entertainment of the Easter fair to commence. Although this is just in Bremen, there are other festivities like this such as the famous spring fair in Munich. In the past I wouldn’t have said I was a big fan of rides but since moving to Germany I have seen the love for the adrenaline rush grow. Thankfully the majority of theme parks in the country open on the last weekend of March. I have shared my passion for Europa Park previously, but Heide Park is also good to, we’re planning a second visit in May whenever the weather will be fine but not too hot for queuing. If you’re working in Germany you will benefit from the many public holidays in May. Although probably not the best time to hit the theme parks unless you love queuing.
Writing about all the things I love about Frühlingszeiti in Germany has made me more excited for the months ahead. It’s also reminded me I need to dust down my bike, pump up my tyres, start cycling and enjoying the fresh air. I’ll be reacquainting myself with the Bürgerpark cycle paths soon and taking a trip to see the new born piglets in das Tiergehege.
Frohe Ostern! And enjoy however you spend the spring months in Germany.
– Sarah E