Vechta Photos and the Best Bakeries in Northwest Germany

I’ve been keeping this under wraps until all the papers have been signed, but in the fall semester I will be teaching English at the University of Vechta again. I already taught English at Vechta a couple of years ago. This time around, I will teach a class to prepare aspiring English teachers for their teaching internships.

The University of Vechta is Germany’s smallest university with some 3500 students, mostly aspiring teachers as well as social workers, gerontologists and agronomists. It started out in 1830 as a teacher training college operated by the Catholic church.

Vechta itself as a town of 32000 people approx. sixty-five kilometers south of Bremen. It’s a typical North German small town, a bit more diverse with regard to population and culture than similar small towns due to the many students. Vechta is also a bit of a regional oddity, since it’s a very Catholic town in traditionally Lutheran Protestant Northwest Germany, part of a Catholic enclave that stretches from approx. thirty kilometers south of Bremen all the way to the Dutch border.

I was at the university yesterday to sign some papers and get some books from the university library. Afterwards, I went into the city, because Vechta still has a Leffers store, a largely defunct chain of clothing stores with an excellent selection of sensible high quality underwear and nightwear. And since I neglected taking photos the last time I worked there, I decided to remedy that and took my camera along.

So here are some photos of Vechta, where I’ll be teaching soon, along with two of the best bakeries in the region:

Vechta university

This portal stone, bearing the coat of arms of the Duke of Oldenburg, is all that remains of the old Catholic teacher training college, which eventually became the university of Vechta. It is now displayed on campus.

Vechta university

A vintage sculpture on the university campus facing the cafeteria.

Vechta university

The university quad, seen from above.

Vechta university

A modern sculpture in front of the great auditorium of the University of Vechta. A couple of years ago I taught an introductory linguistics class in this auditorium.

Vechta campus Jesus

This crucifix set up on the campus is a tangible reminder of the Catholic past of the university. Nowadays, Vechta is a public university, but it still has a notable faculty of Catholic theology.

Vechta St. Georg church

Out of the university and into the city. Here you can see the late gothic St. Georg church, built in the 16th century. It was once known for its stunning interior, but was unfortunately plundered during the 30 Years War.

Vechta St. Georg church

A baroque statue of a saint, clearly not St. Georg, above the portal of St. Georg church.

Vechta Kolpinghaus

The statue of a saint adorns the facade of Vechta’s “Kolpinghaus”, initially a Catholic charity for wandering craftsmen and now a sort of Catholic YMCA.

Vechta Old Kamponier

The “Old Kamponier”, a late medieval ammunitions depot that is one of the oldest buildings in Vechta, half hidden behind some shrubbery. Not the bicycle floating in the Vechtaer Moorbach (Vechta moor creek).

Vechta fountain

A fountain overlooking the old market. The pale yellow building on the right is the former Three Crown Hotel, now a (pretty good) Italian restaurant.

Vechta horse

The statue of a horse on the new market in Vechta. Vechta is a centre of horse breeding in North Germany.

Vechta New Market

A shop selling colourful fiberglass sheep and birdhouses on the new market in Vechta.

Vechta streetsweeper Martin

This sculpture commemorates Streetsweeper Martin, a local original who always kept the streets of Vechta clean until his death in 1984. I always love such sculptures commemorating people who may not have been famous, but were nonetheless an integral part of their home cities. For example, Bremen has sculptures commemorating Mother Cordes, a market woman, and Heini Holtenbeen (Henry with the wooden leg), another local original.

Vechta sculpture

This sculpture shows Jan and Libbett, a farmer couple attending Vechta’s famous fair, the Stoppelmarkt (so called, because it is always held in late August, when the grain has been harvested and all that’s left are the shafts (Stoppeln). The late Whitney Houston once performed at the Stoppelmarkt sometime in the 1990s. The homepage of the city of Vechta still has a photo of that memorable event.

Vechta war memorial

Memorial for the dead of World War I and II next to the church.

Vechta Imperial post office

The Imperial post office on the main street of Vechta, built in 1896. Nowadays, it houses a drugstore and the local offices of the Christian Democratic Party (i.e. Angela Merkel’s party).

Vechta main street

Vechta’s main street does not only have surprisingly nice shops for such a small town, but also some really nice shop fronts such as this optician’s shop decorated with bells.

Vechta Café Burrichter

A Vechta institution since 1930: Burrichter’s bakery and café. Burrichter’s spekulatius cookies are the best in Northwest Germany. Indeed, the first thing my aunt said when I told her I will be teaching in Vechta again was, “Please bring me spekulatius cookies from Burrichter.”

Vechta Café Burrichter

The interior of Burrichter’s Café has remained largely unchanged since 1930. It’s like stepping into a time warp.

Vechta Café Burrichter

Inside Café Burrichter looking out onto the main street. I’ll take this over Starbuck’s any day. Not that there is a Starbuck’s in Vechta. With so many great local cafés you don’t need one.

Twistringen Weyman's bakery

Bakery Weyman in Twistrigen, approx. halfway between Vechta and Bremen, is IMO the best general bakery in the region. I’m a huge fan of their bagels and cream-filled Berliners and look forward to stopping there on my way to the university. Note the murals over the display windows.

Twistringen

A look at Twistringen, another small town halfway between Vechta and Bremen. In the background, you can see the Catholic church (Twistringen is where the Northwest German Catholic enclave starts), then a 19th century house, which is now a Greek restaurant, and finally in the foreground a fountain.

In case you’re wondering about Spekulatius cookies, Wikipedia has some more info. And yes, Burrichter’s really are the best. Their other cake and cookie offerings are great, too. Yesterday, I had a whole grain sandwich cookie with noisette filling that was delicious.

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33 Responses to Vechta Photos and the Best Bakeries in Northwest Germany

  1. Some really great shots here, Cora. Looks almost like the series I’m running both last week and this.

  2. Sherwood Smith says:

    Oh, I love the look of this town!

  3. Estara says:

    Very belated congratulations! You and Sandra Schwab live the life I would have liked to live (if I had had the drive and gumption, heh) and I couldn’t be more pleased to see you guys showing everyone that it’s possible – writing/selling books and teaching English at university and doing it without male support (not that I will be sad when/if you find partners ^^, it’s just night they’ll be a bonus, not a necessity).

    • Cora says:

      If things had gone a bit different, Sandra Schwab and I might both have ended up in Vechta, since she applied for the English literature professorship when it was vacant a while back.

  4. Pingback: Vechta Photos: Roadside Views | Cora Buhlert

  5. Pingback: Seasonal View of Vechta | Cora Buhlert

  6. Rolf Niebergall says:

    I was born in Vechta but living now in New York, USA, . What a difference! But Vechta is my home town and I will not forget it. My parents are there buried. Since I left it has very much grown. I left 1965.

    • Cora says:

      Wow, Vechta to New York must have been quite a transition. And yes, I imagine that Vechta must have changed quite a bit since you left (e.g. most of the university buildings didn’t exist in 1965), though at least Burrichter’s still looks like it always did.

      • Rolf Niebergall says:

        I always was an adventurer. I was few times in South America, India, Afghanistan and, of course. in Europe. My wife is from Lima, Peru. I was this year in September in Vechta and met 3 girls ( now older women ), I used to play with them as a little boy. But my home is in New York. I still love Vechta. I met the “girls” in Cafe Feldtmann. In the church in Vechta I was baptized!

      • Rolf Niebergall says:

        Cora, I hope you are doing ok? Thanks for your reply. Where do you live? When I went to the USA, part of the university was already build. My parents house was not far away.

        • Cora says:

          I’m fine, thanks. I live in Stuhr, which is between Bremen and Bassum.

          The university itself dates back to the 19th century and some of the earliest buildings are from the 1950s. I may well have walked or driven past your parents’ house, if it’s near the university.

  7. Rolf Niebergall says:

    I still live in New York but I am thinking quite often about Vechta. I am already 80 years old and few of my friends are dying. That is live! Alles gute fuer alle lieben Leute. Ich hoffe, dass ich noch ‘mal nach Vechta komme, wer weiss?

  8. Rolf Niebergall says:

    An other friend of mine lives here, I just to play with, Bernd Rohe, also von Vechta.

  9. Rolf Niebergall says:

    Dear Cora, Vechta is part of the catholic part of Munster. Vechta is called: Oldenburger – Muensterland for that reason. The “I forgot the name ” in Vechta is the representative of the bishop in Munster. I know Stuhr, my father is from Syke. I was living quite a while in Bremen and worked in Sebaldsbrueck bei Borgward. I finished in Bremen my high school and studied physics. Here I worked also for IBM laboratory but the longest time for a small company, Clairex Electronics as a research physicist. Everything is over yet, I am in the golden age but still did not get the “Gold”?My English is getting worse, age related? How good is your German?- I almost forgot, in the church (St Georg), on the left side, there are 3 bullets the Swed’s shot when leaving Vechta after the 30 year war. You know, the 30 year war was between the Protestants and Catholics. The Swed’s where mainly Protestants. My last name also comes from Schweden. Write (talk) to you, best regards, Rolf

  10. Dear Cora, I just like to send to you an other e-mail. You are also known here. I live on Long Island in Floral Park at the border to Nassau. I went and still go quite often , may be, to one of the best bakery on the east coast of the USA. The owner Benny, last name Italian (complicated), I know him quite well. I printed out your article about Vechta and gave it to him. He liked it very much. His bakery is in New Hyde Park and is called “Butter Cooky Bakery”. He opened up another bakery in Manhasset on Long Island. Also very nice. The quality is outstanding. About the picture of the Cafe Burrichter, I ask him if he opened up a Cafe in Vechta, of course, a joke. His cakes are very much European, also German. I guess, you would like it very much. If you come here, I invite you to the bakery for a cafe and cake! My “handy” # is (516) 348-4956

  11. Benny promised me to send you soon an e-mail.

  12. I was in an hospital (Intensive Care Unite), 9/25 to 9/29 , now I am getting better, I hope so.

  13. Thanks for your reply. It was really the worst time of my life. Slowly but surly I am feeling better. It was no life. Being back, I have more problems.I hate weekends, you are losing 2 days. I have to get more Md specialists, got a ticket because I did not have my car inspected on time. I could not foresee the future. Dear Cora, don’t get older, it is no fun.

    • Cora says:

      I sympathise. My Mom had a health scare earlier this year and had to go to hospital. She’s better now, but the entire family was upset for several weeks.

      Anyway, I’m glad you’re feeling better now. As for not getting older, I fear none of us has a choice about that.

  14. I am feeling better and better, but for “old” people it will take longer. My oldest son was just in Vechta and went with his 5 children to the Stoppelmarkt, 3 girls and 2 boys, one is still a baby and cannot walk. Saturday the 10/28 he will be 1 year old. They were probably looking at that “invasion”? He is assistant principle in as school and still teaches. Right now I am trying to recover and staying most of the time at home.

  15. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year 2018!
    Prost Neu Jahr!

  16. Rolf Niebergall says:

    Cora, how are you doing. Long time no hear from you. I hope you are ok? I had around my birthday a bad time. In the middle of the winter they cut of the gas and I did not have heat in the house, no cooking and hot water. But now it is ok. But the price was high, about $ 10 000, not bad. They make out of it always more than it really is.
    But anyway: Happy New Year for you! Best wishes, Rolf

    • Cora says:

      Good to hear from you, Rolf, and happy new year as well. I’m sorry to hear that they cut your gas. My furnace failed in early January (and on a weekend, of course) and it was really annoying. And unlike you, I could still cook, I just didn’t have heating or hot water.

  17. Rolf Niebergall says:

    Nice hearing from you again! Otherwise the winter was not very cold. But about the “climate change”, not to far from us is planet Venus, the atmosphere is mostly carbondioxide and the temperature is about 700 degree Fahrenheit. We only have to get few more degrees and melt the ice, good by Florida and so many places. But Mr Trump knows it better? I feel much better where I have heat in the house again. Live is easier?
    Take it easy!
    My brother is right now in Bremen, he comes to NY on Monday.

  18. Rolf Niebergall says:

    Happy Easter, I hope it was nice for you. I did not feel to good. My oldest son is right now in Bremen, Germany to have is children babtised in the church. I am against it but I did not interfere he is old enough to know what he is doing!My brother told me it was very beautiful, he send me few pictures.
    I hope you are alright ?

    • Cora says:

      Good to hear from you, Rolf, and a happy belated Easter.

      I’ve been ill with the flu, but I’m better now, thank you. I hope you feel better soon as well.

      I’m glad your son and his family are enjoying Bremen, which truly is a beautiful city with some very beautiful churches.

  19. Rolf Niebergall says:

    Yes , Cora , I am still alive but my age and my sickness are bothering me ! How are you doing ? I don’t believe : Aus dem Auge aus dem Sinn ? You know , here in the USA we have our problems. Ich muss das in Deutsch sagen , meine “liebe” F rau ist fast in den Donald verliebt. Ich hoffe nur das der bald geht , er ist so arrogant ! Ich glaube , ich muss nun fuer meine Abenteuerlust bezahlen ? Also for you Mary Christmas and happy New Year ! You probably heard about FDR and his wife Leonor , she said after her 50 birthday she wanted not to celebrate her birthday anymore because she did not like to be remembered on her age , poor woman !

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