Birgit Bachmeier

  • Fighter
  • Music Addict
  • Busy Bee

Birgit is a passionate traveller, someone who savours every second of life and a dedicated follower of any- and everything music-related. Even though her roots go back to the city of Ulm, a piece of her soul remains in Southern Africa, the UK and Ireland.

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My 24 Hours in Ulm

‘In Ulm, um Ulm und um Ulm herum’

or, in English: ‘in Ulm, around Ulm and round about Ulm’

– a saying from, you guessed it, Ulm.

I’m not sure whether there’s any deeper meaning to this saying, but at the very least it seems a fitting thing to say atop the Ulmer Münster as you take in the view on all sides. The 360° panorama from the church spire is a familiar view and evokes a feeling of being at home in me, having grown up here myself. At 161.53 meters in height, the (protestant) Münster is the tallest church in the world (yes, taller than the one in Cologne!) – a total of 768 steps take you to the top of the tower, where I am now standing.

It’s still early in the morning and far below I can see the inner city of Ulm. From my vantage point up here, the beginnings of morning commerce give it the impression of a bustling anthill. To the South, I might be able to spot the Alps, if I’m lucky and the weather is clear. To the North lie the rolling hills of the Swabian Alb and the Wilhelmsburg, a huge fort, which towers majestically over the landscape. If you have some time to spare during your visit, I’d definitely recommend taking a trip to the fort and climbing up the little watch tower near the entrance – you have a great view of the city from up there. The loveliest detail of the scene atop the Münster is not in the distance though, it is rather close: a small golden sparrow which sits on the church roof. The story behind the ‘Ulmer Spatz’ is one every child in Ulm knows: as the builders of the church struggled to carry a huge beam through the city gate (they tried it crosswise), they observed a sparrow flying by. The small bird was building its nest and they saw it carried a straw in its beak – lengthwise. Problem solved.

One last look, then it’s time to climb down again to walk around the inside of the building for a bit. I love the beautiful nave of the church and the colourful stained glass of the Gothic windows, so keep an eye out for those. After lighting a candle, I step outside.

Now I feel as if I’ve really deserved my breakfast. One of my favourite places for that is BellaVista just across the street. Thankfully, it’s still early enough for me to get a seat on the sunny terrace on the top floor, where I enjoy some scrambled eggs and a mint tea.

Afterwards, it’s time for some window shopping. I say window shopping, but I simply cannot resist taking a peek inside Ehinger Schwarz. Since 1876, all jewellery here has been handmade by the Ulmer family of Ehinger, later the Schwarz family. As you can imagine, every single piece is unique in its design. And speaking of design: just outside the door is the Ulmer Stadthaus, an outstanding piece of modern architecture by New York architect Richard Meier. This building has been, and still is, somewhat controversial, as its modernity defaces the traditional look of the Münsterplatz in the eyes of some. Personally, I love the contrast between the old Münster and the new Stadthaus. Make sure to have a look inside, as there are sometimes free exhibitions, for example one about Albert Einstein, one of Ulm’s most famous residents.

Feeling a little peckish, I make my way to either the Bäckerei Zaiser or the nearby Café Tröglen for some of the finest local pastries and sweets. The latter, I must admit, is a rather old-fashioned locale, but it brings back fond memories of my childhood – I remember watching the Christmas market from here, with its sheep and donkey enclosures. I buy a piece of my favourite cake, ‘Argentinische Sauerrahmtorte’, for my mum at home and a marzipan version of the Ulmer Spatz for my niece.

Now I stroll down the Hirschstraße, which is the main shopping street. As I’m in the need for some new sunglasses I pop into Eyes, which is great for eyewear. After trying on some of their new collection, I settle on a new pair of sunnies – now the vacation can begin! Then I walk straight towards Knopf und Perle, where I have been a frequent customer since my school days – mainly for their DIY pearls, strings and beads. Today however I’m not in the mood for handiwork, so I buy a ready-made bracelet made of silver and turquoise.

Leaving the store, delighted with my new purchases, I enjoy a little walk along the lovely streets and alley just off the main shopping area: Sterngasse, Hafenbad, Hafengasse, Platzgasse, Rabengasse and Kohlgasse, just to name a few. In the Herrenkellergasse, you can find Fräulein Berger – a small and homey café offering local specialities (also vegan ones!), a wide variety of tea and home-made cakes. I’m a big fan of their vintage furniture and an even bigger fan of their cheesecake. Café Stella in the Hirschstraße also has terrific coffee, if you’re feeling like a pick-me-up, their soups and snacks are quite tasty, too.

As I’m in the area, I stop by the Museum der Brotkultur. This museum is centred around grain and bread. It sounds dry at first (no pun intended), but, as you will find out, there are actually a lot of fascinating things to know about bread, such as its cultural and sociohistorical dimensions and the technical aspects involved in its making. One of my favourite parts of the exhibition is the surprising, though not at all arbitrary, inclusion of artwork by Salvador Dalí and Joseph Beuys.

Having pondered long enough upon this fundamental source of human nourishment, you may be thinking about getting some nourishment yourself – I know I am. But where to go? The sun is shining, maybe I could do some gourmet shopping and sit on a bench in the sun, eating all the delicious food and watching people. I could first walk to the Käshäusle, a lovely place where they sell over 300 types of cheese (and have been doing so for over 30 years) – maybe some goat cheese with chutney? It would go perfectly with some fresh fish from Fischhaus Heilbronner, which is the place in Ulm for high-quality fish and seafood – perhaps I’ll get some cold smoked trout. And a Swabian bread roll, a ‘Seele’ or ‘Wasserwecken’ from a nearby bakery, to go along with that. For dessert, I could try some chocolate or pralines from the lovely Waltraud’s Confiserie Chocolat.

As tempting as that sounds – and my word does it sound tempting – I’m quite exhausted from all the walking and would prefer to sit down somewhere to have lunch, so I opt for Café Brettle. Don’t expect a five-course menu in a luxury interior when you come here – this place is down-to-earth and unpretentious, the atmosphere is laid-back and the crowd is young. They offer an excellent lunch meal, including authentic Swabian cuisine such as ‘Linsen mit Spätzle’. After Lunch, I have a vitamin power shot at the smoothie bar Fruchtrausch. Bring some patience, as this spot is often very crowded. It’s definitely worth waiting for, though. As I love green smoothies, I get a ‘Zappel Philipp’, made with fresh apples, cucumber and mango.

Having subdued my empty stomach and my tired legs for now, I’m ready to get going again, this time for some record shopping. At Soundcircus they have a huge selection of CDs and vinyl, secondhand as well as new ones. I browse the Rock section and pick out some older stuff for our rack at home. If you’re not that into music, try the inspiring kunsthalle weishaupt. Their exhibitions in the city centre showcase contemporary as well as older artwork and sculptures, including some Mark Rothko, Jean Tinguely, and Keith Haring. Make sure to take in the architecture of the building itself, it’s gorgeous. Speaking of architecture, just a little further on is the renowned Ulmer Rathaus, the town hall. When I’m here, I always take some time to admire the beautiful coloured frescoes and the astronomical clock set into the facade of the early Renaissance building. Across the street, the new public library is settled in a mesmerisingly modern glass pyramid.

I keep on strolling through the old town Fischerviertel with its tiny alleys, historical timbered houses and bridges over the little stream called the Blau. I pass the Schwörhaus, where the mayor gives his traditional speeches, and the synagogue. The building Schiefes Haus, a late Gothic timbered house with a clearly noticeable slant, is located here as well. You can stay a night in one of its eight slanted hotel rooms, but no worries, the beds are all perfectly level. In 1997, the Schiefes Haus claimed the title of the world’s most inclined hotel, as confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records.

As I walk on, I notice that people are still sitting outside having a late lunch. If you didn’t have lunch with me earlier and aren’t sure where you should eat, you could go to Zur Forelle for fantastic fish dishes, or Wilder Mann, where the Flammkuchen is heavenly, or QMUH for great burgers, or – my best tip: Erstes Ulmer Pfannkuchenhaus (Allgäuer Hof), where you can choose from 44 sweet or savoury varieties of pancakes! As I ate earlier though, I’m content with just a black coffee at Cafébar Kutter, a cosy café on two levels (which doubles up as a nice place to have a drink and enjoy some music in the evening). Alternatively, coffee and cake on the sunny terrace at becker’s is always pleasant.

Will you join me for a late afternoon stroll? – Through the gate of the Metzgerturm and along the Stadtmauer, the beautiful walls of the old city. On the banks of the Danube, families and couples are sunbathing on the lawn, kids are giggling and students are setting up their portable grills for a BBQ. I pass through the marvellous Rosengarten and reach the spot where Albrecht Berblinger, the ‘Tailor of Ulm’, attempted to cross the Danube in 1811 using his very own flying machine. He failed spectacularly, but at least everyone in town knows his story. By the way, you can also take the boat ‘Ulmer Spatz’ instead of walking (you may miss some beautiful spots along the way if you do this, such as the Bootshaus, where you can have a pre-dinner drink on the lounge deck).

Friedrichsau is my final destination – a park with wonderful areas for playing volleyball or mini golf, also home of the soccer team SSV Ulm 1846. If you have kids, they’ll love the Tiergarten Ulm with its huge outdoor bear enclosure – I know I always did.

For dinner, LAGO is my locale of choice. A la carte or set menu, every dish that comes out of their kitchen is a treat for the palate. Tonight, it’s a nice vegetarian pasta for me, with a glass of exceptional Italian white wine on the side. No dessert for me however, as I have tickets for a concert at the Ulmer Zelt. I love to visit the little festival that takes place here every summer, full of eclectic music performances and comedy shows. The show tent is quite small, which allows for a super intimate and friendly atmosphere.

Stepping outside after the show, I head back to the city centre, to one of those places where I’ve been partying with my friends since forever – ROXY for independent and Electro clubbing over several floors, Cat for indie music and dancing, Sauschdall for live jamming and jazz music, or Trödler Abraham if you just want to have a few pints of beer. Let’s enjoy a great night out before falling into bed!

Locations



Ulmer MünsterMünsterplatz 21, Ulm, Deutschland

A must-see when in Ulm. Walking up the tower of the tallest church in the world feels always like home to me.
WilhelmsburgPrittwitzstraße 100, Ulm, Deutschland

The view from up there over my the town is just beautiful. If you’re lucky, you can even spot the Alps far away in the South.
Bella VistaMünsterplatz 35, Ulm, Deutschland

The rooftop terrace with the Ulmer Münster right in front of you is my favourite summer place to enjoy a morning coffee in the sun.
Ehinger Schwarz / Stadthaus UlmMünsterplatz 50, Ulm, Deutschland

There’s no place in Ulm where you can buy more beautiful jewellery – and it’s hand-made! The store is located inside the Stadthaus Ulm, a fascinating building of modern architecture.
Café TröglenMünsterplatz 5, Ulm, Deutschland

Although I’m sometimes the youngest person in here, the cakes are still lovely.
EyesHirschstraße 16, Ulm, Deutschland

Summer’s coming and you need new shades? I’d go to Eyes.
Knopf und PerleUlmergasse 21, Ulm, Deutschland

I like me a bit of DIY jewellery and this place is perfect for that, with its broad selection of beads and pearls.
Fräulein BergerHerrenkellergasse 14, Ulm, Deutschland

Sit down and relax at this cosy place for a (second) coffee in the morning.
Café StellaDreiköniggasse 11, 89073, Ulm, Deutschland

Quite tiny, but you always feel welcome. The snacks and cakes are delicious.
Museum der BrotkulturSalzstadelgasse 10, Ulm, Deutschland

Why not learn something new about grain, bread and the cultural and technical impacts of its making?
KäshäusleDreiköniggasse 6, Ulm, Deutschland

Say cheese! With so many variations of it here, it can be quite hard to choose.
Fischhaus HeilbronnerRebengasse 8, Ulm, Deutschland

I love buying fish here – it’s fresh, it’s healthy, it’s delicious!
Confiserie ChocolatRabengasse 18, Ulm, Deutschland

More than just chocolate – for everybody who loves sweets just as much as I do.
Café BrettleRabengasse 10, Ulm, Deutschland

Alternative students’ hot spot with great food. Try the Swabian lunch dishes.
FruchtrauschHafengasse 1, Neu-Ulm, Deutschland

Green, red, yellow or multi-coloured – drink your smoothie here or get it to go. Power to the vitamins!
SoundcircusFrauenstraße 40, Ulm, Deutschland

I’m a huge vinyl addict! This is my favourite place in Ulm for record shopping.
kunsthalle weishauptHans-und-Sophie-Scholl-Platz 1, 89073 Ulm, Deutschland

Modern art meets cool architecture – an inspiring place.
Ulmer RathausMarktplatz 1, Ulm, Deutschland

A sightseeing hot spot! I’m always taking pictures of the beautiful frescoes.
Stadtbibliothek UlmVestgasse 1, Ulm, Deutschland

The glass pyramid is a newer addition to Ulm’s architectural landscape. Pretty cool!
FischerviertelFischerviertel-Blau, Weinhofberg, Ulm, Deutschland

Our old town is the best place to stroll around on summer days. I always enjoy the little places and beautiful sights.
SchwörhausWeinhof 12, 89073, Ulm, Germany

A historic building opposite the synagogue.
Schiefes HausSchwörhausgasse 6, Ulm, Deutschland

Yes, it’s a tourist attraction, but it’s lovely! It’s fun to watch all the people standing in front of it with their heads as inclined as the house itself.
Zur ForelleFischergasse 25, Ulm, Deutschland

My favourite place when I’m craving fish for dinner.
Wilder MannFischergasse 2, Ulm, Deutschland

‘Flammkuchen’ is the speciality-you-have-to-try here.
QMUHLautengasse 4, Ulm, Deutschland

Quite simply the best burger in town.
Erstes Ulmer Pfannkuchenhaus / Allgäuer HofFischergasse 12, Ulm, Deutschland

What pancakes should be, in my eyes. Ever since I’ve been small I’ve Ioved pancakes and my parents always took me here.
Cafébar KutterMarktpl. 14, Ulm, Deutschland

A cool café/bar with a cool crowd.
becker’sPostgasse 1, Ulm, Deutschland

When the sun’s out, get your afternoon coffee here.
MetzgerturmUnter der Metzig 7, 89073 Ulm, Deutschland

Ancient tower with an interesting myth – keep an eye out for the plaques on the walls.
StadtmauerUnter der Metzig, Ulm, Deutschland

The city walls are perfect to stroll along while people watching.
RosengartenAdlerbastei 2, Ulm, Deutschland

This is a beautiful, somewhat hidden place, perfect for relaxation.
BootshausGänslände 10, Ulm, Deutschland

In summer, I love to sit on the deck and have a cold drink outside, watching the everyday buzz of the Danube.
Friedrichsau / TiergartenTiergarten Ulm- Friedrichsau, Ulm, Deutschland

A beautiful park, great for sports and recreation.
LAGOBöfinger Str. 50, Ulm, Deutschland

Ideal for almost everything, be it a gourmet dinner or a light summer lunch.
ROXYSchillerstraße 1/12, Ulm, Deutschland

You can spend the whole night here, dancing to the music of whichever of its several floors you like best.
Cat / SauschdallPrittwitzstraße 36, Ulm, Deutschland

Cat is an alternative club and bar with a wealth of live acts and the jazz aficionados head to Sauschdall.
Trödler AbrahamKronengasse 12a, Ulm, Deutschland

Just sit down, relax and have a beer or two.
Bäckerei Zaiserherrenkellergasse 17

Also called the ‘sugar bakery’!
‘For me, Ulm was always the best place to grow up.’
  • Sugar heaven: the Bäckerei Zaiser.
  • I love fish, which is why I regularly have dinner at the fantastic Zur Forelle.
  • Take a walk in the beautifully relaxing green of Friedrichshaul park.
  • Ulm is home to the coolest looking public library you could imagine.
  • Sit down for coffee and cake at Fräulein Berger.
  • The restaurant Bootshaus is a summer mainstay of mine in Ulm.
  • Enjoy great coffee at Café Stella.
  • I have a sweet tooth and this chocolate shop is my biggest temptation.
  • I love to just stroll through the Fischerviertel district and look at all the beautiful houses.
  • Every time I visit the Museum der Brotkultur, I learn something new (about bread).
  • Have a delicious brunch at one of my favourite cafés, Bella Vista.

My thoughts about Ulm

What do you love about your destination?

Ulm is where I come from and I have countless memories of so many places here. It’s a compact student city, with beautiful cafés, sightseeing spots and small shops all within walking distance. For me, Ulm was always the best place imaginable to grow up in. Its size is perfect, not too big and anonymous and not too small and conservative. Some even say it’s the city with the highest concentration of bars in Germany. Our church Ulmer Münster and the river Danube are surely the top spots in town and what makes Ulm so unique – together with the lovely Swabian citizens, of course.

Which music fits best to your destination?

The following tracks are as different as day and night, but, well, that’s how Ulm is. When just strolling through the streets of my town, one band fits perfectly: Tab Two. They were a hip jazz band from Ulm, combining rap, electro and trumpets in a  very unique manner. They played all the world’s stages, even at the Montreux Jazz Festival or Roskilde. ‘No flagman ahead’ is their most influential tune. Another successful band from my home town is Die Happy with frontwoman Marta Jandová. Try ‘Supersonic Speed’ for pure Rock feeling. Third recommendation, again wildly different: ‘Für mich soll’s rote Rosen regnen’ by Hildegard Knef. She was born in Ulm and sometimes you just have to commemorate former divas. Try that one when standing on top of Ulmer Münster. Later, when walking along the Danube to the Donauturm, it’s time for the 90s. Oasis with ‘Don’t look back in Anger’ or ‘Smells like teen spirit’ by Nirvana. These are for the good old times when I was a teen partying there with my friends. When you finally arrive in Friedrichsau park and are if you are lucky enough to attend the Ulmer Zelt, listen to Frank Turner’s ‘Polaroid Picture’. It reminds me of a great concert. Listen to its lyrics and remember your old friends.

What‘s a "must do" in your destination?

Climb the tower of the Ulmer Münster – it’s the highest church tower in the world and therefore this is a must to do when in town. No excuses.

Take a vacation into My life

What’s your background?

I am a passionate traveller and have always been thrilled and inspired by exotic countries, as well as the mountains of Germany, which are closer by. I love the calmness and serenity of hiking deep down in the Alps. Travelling is somehow like personal therapy and a counterbalance to my stressful job in fashion PR.

My second passion is music: be it in intimate concerts, big venues or festivals, I spend a lot of money and even more time travelling the world to get to see my favourite bands. I even spent my honeymoon at a music festival. So guess where you’ll most probably find me and my husband Stefan when in town? Browsing vinyl stores for new entrants to our huge CD and vinyl shelf.

What is the best moment of the day?

Coming home from a rough day at work and cooking a fresh delicious meal together with Stefan.

What inspires you?

Definitely music. I fall into a state of contemplation when I listen to my favourite tunes. The lyrics are and always have been the most important thing to me. I find it fascinating how music has the power to make you cry or smile.
Or, like The Eagles said in their song Hotel California: ‘Some dance to remember; some dance to forget’.

How would a good friend describe you?

Loyal – to others as well as to myself. And that I have ants in my pants. It’s very hard for me to sit down and do nothing. I always have to be outdoors or planning something.

Your lifestyle in 5 words?

Travelling. Visiting concerts. Meeting friends. Eating. Hiking. (Repeat.)

Which books, newspapers or magazines do you read?

As it’s part of my job, I of course read a lot of fashion magazines. To inspire myself for my next hiking trip, I read the 'Outdoor’ magazine. And for news, it’s the 'Süddeutsche Zeitung’. When in a bookshop, I always end up flipping through the cookbooks of Jamie Oliver. I’m also a huge Harry Potter fan.

Which films blow your mind?

I’m a girl, so of course I like ‘Sex and the City’. I am also a ‘Vikings’ and ‘Big Bang Theory’ addict. In terms of films, I am fond of horror, especially if it’s of the subtle kind, such as in ‘Paranormal Activity’.

Person you’d like to sit next to in an airplane?

Brian Molko from Placebo, my favourite band. For me, he’s one of the greatest poets of all time.

What are your favourite destinations around the globe?

Southern Africa, for one, that is to say, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe or Botswana – there’s nothing like getting up early to see the Big Five at dawn. Being there feels like being home. You can truly feel that Africa is the cradle of mankind. I also love Scandinavia and Iceland, but for different reasons. My all-time favourites however are the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. A year that I don’t visit these isles is a year lost to me.

Your life philosophy?

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making plans.

Suitcase, Backpack or Weekender?

Depends on the destination. But if a music festival is involved it’s definitely a backpack with a tent in it.

What else should we know about you?

I’m pretty sure there are not many people on earth that love and respect animals the way I do. Unfortunately, I do not have a pet – yet. I am also fond of writing and photography. And even if you cannot see me, know that you quite possibly may be able to hear me. People say my laughter is loud and sounds like a scale. Well, I take that as a compliment?!

Travelling is…

the one thing I will remember in the very end; the countries I visited; the people I met; the places I saw; the food I ate; the water I swam in; the memories I collected in my mind forever.

Life is…

short. I hope you realise before it’s too late. Honest.

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