Bremen Rathaus was built around 1405, as was the statue of Roland in the square.I read that statues of Roland appear in many cities of the former Holy Roman Empire, as emblems of city liberties. The one in Bremen is the oldest of them all. The town square is cobbled, quite attractive and lined with old buildings,but today was not very photogenic as it was being rigged up for some kind of fair. Next to the square is the Romanesque (Norman) cathedral of St Peter’s. The main part was built between 1035 and 1100, and a further gothic addition was placed on top of the Romanesque base around 1500.I wandered in various directions away from the medieval centre but found more modern city all around, and there was nothing I'd spotted in the guidebook to make me look further so returned quite quickly to the square.There I had a lunch of a mini-tureen of pea soup and a hunk of bread ,sat on an appropriately rustic table outside a little café.
Leaving Bremen, I joined the autobahns again and headed onwards for Arnhem, in Holland, as good a stopping-off point as any in the country,I thought.My experience of driving on the much vaunted German autobahns is not very positive.Many of the motorways are outdated two lane highways made of concrete slabs,which give a very bumpy ride.The roads are congested and there are a lot of roadworks.As well as this they are quite dangerous as on most there is no speed limit.The lorries clog the slow lane moving at about 65mph,and any attempt to move into the fast lane is tricky with many vehicles there coming up on you at 100mph or so,much faster than one is used to.The roads noticeably improved on reaching Holland,a better ,smooth,tarmac surface ,wider lanes ,and three lanes.
At Arnhem I found what I was looking for, a dedicated camper overnight stop on the Rhine quay almost directly under what is now called John Frost Bridge, famous for the battle that raged here during Operation Market Garden, portrayed in the film A Bridge Too Far(in which Anthony Hopkins played Lt Col John Frost).It took me quite a while driving up and down past the satnav's quoted destination before I worked out where the actual campervan area was, down on the quay, and that I could drive down there.There is a flood protection wall alongside the road, which hides the quay from the road,and finally by getting out and walking I spotted that at a couple of places you could drive up a ramp,over the wall and down a longer ramp onto the long quayside.The half-dozen spaces where overnight camping is permitted had a rather challenging method of paying.You have to download an app to your mobile phone using the QR code on a sign, then set up an account quoting the unique code for your parking bay.(Very important to go back on the app the next morning to disconnect your stay when leaving) I gave up on this when I initially tried, but later the harbourmaster came along: he could see on his mobile device if each slot was paid for .* He was highly sympathetic that I had failed to work out the system , but suggested that I continue to try, and later on I finally mastered it , which must have saved him a return trip.
(* Addendum Dec. 2015:I have just received an invoice by email ,6 months later,for the payment of 9 Euros)There is quite a bit of river traffic which I can watch from the van's open rear doors. Each big barge going past has the skipper’s car on the foredeck. Unfortunately the quay also seems to be used as a speedway track by boy racers, as it stretches for 2 or 3 km,but I hope they have a bed time.
Later, walking past the bridge, I found a small memorial area with 3 small field guns and some interpretation boards showing the wartime destruction. Apparently, after failing to capture it, the allies eventually bombed the bridge and town to prevent German reinforcements using it and the bridge had to be re-built after the war. A little further along the road above the quay was a pleasant pedestrianised area which was home to a large international assortment of cafes and restaurants each with its own outside eating area, with crowds strolling up and down. After considerable prevarication ,as there was so much choice of different cuisines, I eventually settled for an Indian restaurant, and a curry. It was a beautiful and very hot evening and I had seek shade under one of the umbrellas, as the sun was still strong.