To be completely honest, the thought of visiting Papenburg hadn’t crossed my mind at all. But I really wanted to see the Meyer Shipyard which is in Papenburg. We quickly settled on a date for the shipyard tour and booked a hotel. During the planning of the trip, we discovered that the new AIDAnova was to be christened on that weekend followed by a big concert at the shipyard the day after. So we went a little early to be able to attend the concert.
It was announced that Hurts, James Blunt, Sarah Connor, Wincent Weiss, Nico Santos, Luke Mockridge and Wirtz would perform at the concert. They expected around 25.000 spectators and we were pretty excited about the show.
We weren’t able to find accommodation in Papenburg and booked a hotel in Bourtange, in the Netherlands. So we had to take the car to the concert. It wasn’t far but as you can never be certain how long it will take you on an event day to get there we left with plenty of time. The organisers had some car parks signposted and we parked on a big lawn around 15 minutes on foot from the main entrance. In hindsight that was ideal for us as we got out of that car park really quickly after the concert and the roads were clear in the direction of our hotel.
The concert took place in a space right in front of the shipyard. Unfortunately, the venue was just a large open area with gravel on the ground. That wasn’t all too inviting to sit down on the ground but that would have been useful during our 10-hour stay. However, on the dyke that surrounded the area, it was quite nice.
I had been looking forward to the concert a lot. Sarah Connor and James Blunt were artists I had wanted to see and hear. The hearing, however, turned out to be a huge problem. It appeared that the sound engineering team had taken the day off. Only after the first four artists the sound got adjusted so that one could hear a thing in the last rows. I apologise to Sarah Connor, I am sure she was great. But all we took away were just her movements for the most part. Only after the sound had been adjusted the atmosphere in the audience got better.
But despite all that, I have to say the venue was great. In the basin next to the shipyard we saw the AIDAnova (that had been christened the day before). And as it got darker, the lighting engineers worked their magic. What a spectacle that went down on that ship. Changing colours, playful illuminations and whole greetings and phrases projected onto the hull of the ship – just amazing!
After about 10 hours at the festival, we headed off, already looking forward to properly exploring the shipyard two days later.
A walk through Papenburg
We moved from our hotel in Bourtange to a hotel in Papenburg. The second hotel was near the centre so that we could start our discovery tour of the city on foot.
We started in a big car park just a few meters from our hotel. This area used to be the old shipyard and is now a modern venue for events. An old crane reminds visitorws and locals of the past of the area.
For more information around the city and the region, visitors should go to the tourist information centre called “Zeitspeicher” (Time Warehouse). The visitor centre is in the old port and hosts a little exhibition alongside the tourist information centre. We made use of the lovely weather instead and went for a walk along the Main Canal.
Main Canal Papenburg
Papenburg is a fen colony (or marshland colony) and is amongst the oldest fen colonies of Germany. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that canals characterize the appearance of the city. Originally, they were used to drain the moor and to extract the combustible peat that was used as fuel. Secondary use of the canals was transport which encouraged the formation of many small shipyards that specialised in wooden ships. The vessels were hauled by people, later also by horses. The Main Canal is one of these old canals.
Over time a lovely promenade developed at the canal. When the weather is nice the countless little restaurants and cafes are very inviting and a wonderful spot to enjoy time at the canal. I also loved all the plants and the greenery along the canal. A really comforting space.
Museum for seafaring
The seafaring museum is an outdoor museum. Six replicas of vessels from the 19th century are moored in the Main Canal. I had never heard words like Tjalk, Spitzmutte, Kuff or Schmack before. Turns out these are all German words for special types of boats which can all be found in the Main Canal.
The museum ship brig “Friederike von Papenburg” is certainly the most impressive ship in the Main Canal. It is moored right in front of the town hall and houses the tourist information centre.
“Margaretha von Papenburg” is a ship that can also be found in the Main Canal. This vessel was mainly used for coastal shipping. It has a shallow bilge and a very round bow and stern which makes it look almost chubby.
I wasn’t able to find out if it is possible to see the inside of these ships as well. Too bad, I would have loved to see more of them.
Town Hall Papenburg
The Papenburg Town Hall is at the Main Canal. The building is from 1913 and it already was the administrative centre and the seat of the town council back then. It is a nice building that I would have liked to see from the inside. The main hall is apparently decorated with beautiful wood carvings.
Across seven bridges…
I love bridges! Many of them cross the Main Canal in Papenburg. And the best thing is – they all look different! Some bridges are for pedestrians only, others can be crossed by cars as well. And every bridge has its own details, some subdued and others more adorned – wonderful!
There is a big mill between the Main Canal and the city park. We were lucky and the mill was open for visitors at the time of our trip and we were able to go on a tour through it.
It is a post mill and it was built in 1888. In 1999 it was restored and made fully functional again. Entry is free! Visitors get inside the three-storey mill via a steep and narrow wooden staircase. The mechanism of the mill can be seen on the top floor. Between huge wooden cogs and creaking beams I had a hard time deciding what to inspect first.
There is another speciality to the mill. On windless days millers used steam to power their mill.
The gallery around the mill is also open for visitors who from there get both a great view of the city and a closer look at the wings of the mill.
The bottom floor is home to a little shop. We purchased Mill Schnaps – a herbal liqueur that tasted great!
There is an old jukebox in the entrance area where I find hits from my youth that make me start to sing.
The menu is mainly fish but there are also meat and vegetarian options. We picked the matie with bacon and beans and fried potatoes. It was very tasty!
Hauptkanal links 14,
Dinner in Papenburg
We like eating fish but we don’t nearly eat it often enough. But when we get a good recommendation (thank you Fernweh Koch) we follow it.
The fish restaurant Smutje-Papenburg is at the Main Canal. It is a very rustic restaurant, decorated with models of ships and other elements that represent maritime life.