Tuesday, 13 November 2018
The easiest way to get around in Heidelberg is by bicycle, and whether you need to repair your own bike, to rent or to buy (a cheap) one, you can do this right on arrival at the main train station: Follow the signs to the exit and descend the stairs at the right hand (eastern) side to track 1b. Here, in rather unpolished surroundings you'll find the Radhof bike repair shop, a socially responsible enterprise which will happily help you. To rent the bike at 15 EUR/day present your ID card or passport, hand them your mobile number and a deposit of 50 EUR, and off you go with a well-kept second hand bike. On return you will not only get your deposit back but also the paper copy taken from your ID. Unfortunately the workshop is closed on weekends.
Cocooning and body care
As a tourist you will most certainly head for the old town, walking down the Hauptstraße ("main street") pedestrian street. While the western part of this street is inhabited by the ever-boring major chains, the eastern part with its small-scale owner-run shops is definitely worth a shopping spree, preferably to enterprises striving to sell sustainable, often fairly traded goods. Looking for dedicated environment-friendly kitchen and bathroom utensils, toys, fashion accessories, stationary, gifts or design items you must not miss out the green design department store
GOODsHOUSE a little west of Schiffsgasse. The shop itself isn't visible from the main street -- walk down a little aisle into the backyard to find a lovingly arranged two-storey shopping paradise. The staff is friendly and helpful, yet not intrusive and will happily offer to order items not in stock.
A few steps further west, at the corner with Heumarkt an equally carefully designed cosmetics boutique dubbed Wolkenseifen ("cloud soaps") is the flagship store of a local near-natural cosmetics manufacturer. In addition you'll find
(certified) organic and natural cosmetics brands usually not to be found in your nearest organic supermarket -- among them Chia, Madara, or Khadi --, and a great selection of zero waste body care like hair and body soaps, solid shampoos or solid toothpaste.
Shoes and fashion
Fair and slow fashion seems to be quite strong in Heidelberg where even otherwise conventional clothes boutiques like
Bofinger in the main street trade in fair and organic labels like Armedangels. My stay was too short to pay a visit to all the places on my short list, but I managed to have a glimpse inside
Tutta Natura selling sustainably produced French shoes and women's clothes for lovers of classic eco-design in the Plöck running parallel with the main street.
A larger selection of natural shoes is to be found at Die Ahle Naturschuhe which can easily be missed with its modest shop-window front hiding a pleasant shoe shop in Sankt-Anna-Gasse linking Plöck and Hauptstraße at the western-most border of the old town. During the cold season you may also step by for knitted organic head and foot wear and other woolen accessories.
If you prefer German sculptural shoe design to French elegance Heidelberg also has a shop of the sustainably and socially responsibly producing Berlin-based shoe manufacturer Trippen. Their carefully designed store can be found at Heumarkt.
November 2018 will hopefully see the re-opening of former fair fashion store cum cafe Friedrich as a Glore concept store offering organic fashion for all, women, men and kids as well as a small selection of organic body care.
Fair trade shops
Unsurprising Heidelberg is home to a number of community-driven one-world shops selling fairly traded fashion accessories, household items, dry food, sweets, coffee and tea, the latter often certified organic. One of them is Una Tierra at the market place Neuenheim, another one
the Weltladen in the old town with a small cafe, offering fairly traded coffee drinks, cocoa or tea while you crawl the shop or let you inspire by the bookshelf.
More to try
Here's a list of shops which I had on my list for research but didn't manage to visit myself. Let me know about your experience!
[Heidelberg, shopping, organic, fair, fashion, spices, herbs, delicatessen, gifts, upcycling, bodycare, coffee, cafe, cycling, shoes]
Wednesday, 24 October 2018
Bavarian opening hour regulations are far from liberal, hence your shopping options on Sundays and after 8 pm are limited to, uhmmm, petrol stations, more or less. Not the kind of place you'll expect to find organic food, toiletries or other necessities in eco-conscious quality.
But the times, they are changing, and for the organic Munich traveller or inhabitant, there's no reason to despair anymore. Your best bet are railway stations, namely Hauptbahnhof (main station) and Ostbahnhof.
On Hauptbahnhof enter the basement from Elisenhof in Western direction, following the S-Bahn signs (if you come from the trains head straight ahead to the Eastern exit to enter the basement). Opposite the entry to S-Bahn (urban trains) you'll find Biokultur, a full-fledged organic supermarket. It's you're only choice for fresh organic fruit and veges on Sundays and offers everything you'll expect from a full retailer (including wine, household cleaning items, toiletries, ...) as well as a pleasant shopping atmosphere. It keeps open daily until 9pm.
Next to it you find a branch of the local organic Hofpfisterei bakery chain. As all of their branches it also stocks a small range of organic drinks, dry and dairy products as well as organic cold cuts.
Unfortunately the Hofpfisterei branch at Ostbahnhof train station does no longer keep open on Sunday mornings, but a five minutes brisk walk from the station you'll find one of those family-owned bakeries that are becoming so rare these days. Leave the station at Orleansplatz exit, cross the square and follow the tram tracks along Wörthstraße. At the end of Bordeauxplatz square, corner Metzstraße, you'll find Cafe Reichshof run by the Neulinger family, a lovely coffeehouse cum pastry shop. Treat yourself with their delicious organic cakes, icecream or a savory organic snack like the traditional Bavarian Weißwurst (sausage) breakfast. If you don't feel intrigued to stay shop from a huge range of organic bread, rolls, and cakes. You can also buy a small selection of prepackaged cheese and meat cuts, butter, milk and jams from the fridge opposite the coffee machine.
Everything you need for a sumptious breakfast or cold snack (except fresh fruit and veges) can be bought from Fritz Mühlenbäckerei near Rosenheimer Platz. Between 1987 and 2010 this cosy artisanal baker's shop was the headquarter of one of Munich's eldest organic bakeries. Now the scent of warm bread fresh from the oven is gone -- all the production takes place in modern facilities in the outskirts of Aying. The shop however is still here and open on Sunday mornings, including a small grocery section equipped with a large fridge.
Back at Ostbahnhof trainstation, directly at the southern exit of the U-Bahn station into the Ostbahnhof building you'll find the place that will save your life after 8pm: This branch of the DM-Drogeriemarkt chain does not only stock the usual excellent range of natural bodycare, organic dry products, vegan alternatives and eco-friendly household helpers, but boosts a capable selection of dairy products, eggs and even a freezer stocked with organic pizza, berries, icecream, ... Unfortunately -- and unlike other DM branches -- organic choices and certified natural cosmetics aren't clearly marked on the shelves, so watch out for organic and natural cosmetics labels, and brands.
If you need a really good bottle of wine or spirit or another gift on a Sunday, treat yourself with a real Italian coffee, snack or sumptuous meal at L'Amar organic restaurant in queer-friendly Glockenbach neighbourhood. The place features a few shelves from which you can shop along. All of their cakes and antipasti are to go, and everything is guaranteed a 100 percent organic and yummy.
[Munich, organic, wine, coffee, gifts, snacks, lunch, breakfast, bakeries, grocery, supermarkets, trainstation]
Monday, 27 August 2018
Dresden's Wilhelminian neighbourhood of Neustadt is dominated by independent shops and venues, many of them run by female entrepreneurs as recently documented by an art project of local photographer Christine Starke. So it comes as little surprise that it is here where you have the best chance to discover a lot of gems, driven in accordance with the personal principles of the shop keeper which often include social and environmental aspects. Keep your eyes open, and you will discover a lot more than I have to suggest here.
Herbalists and beauty
If you're on the outlook for herbs, remedies, bodycare and food items based on ingredients described by medieval healer nun Hildegard of Bingen pay a visit to the Marone herbalist shop on Bautzner Landstraße directly located at the east-bound tram stop Pulsnitzer Straße. Not all of the products on sale (which among others include chestnut products and a small selection of biodynamic wine) in this small specialist shop are certified organic though.
When entering the quieter parts of the neighbourhood and head for Martin Luther church stop by a tiny herbalist shop dubbed
Un-kraut ("weeds") directly opposite the organic cafe Kuchenglocke. Even when open the shop easily goes unnoticed, and its interior does not show all the herbal treasures hidden in the backoffice. Ask for any herb or spice, and the knowledgeable shop keeper will truly find it for you, in organic quality if possible.
She will also happily answer all the questions you might have concerning the use of herbs.
On display are an assortment of organic spices and tisanes, essential oils as well as some gift items. Although the regular opening hours are restricted to
weekdays you might find the place open on Saturdays, occasionally.
Surrounding the church natural and organic bodycare products can be found at
Touch of Nature beauty parlour cum shop in Böhmische Straße east of Görlitzer Straße. Note that also this shop is
closed on weekends.
Just opposite there's a second hand bicycle shop cum workshop, Elbcycles, where you can buy a used bike if you're staying longer, or get your own one fixed.
Heading further west cross Görlitzer Straße and follow Böhmische Straße until it ends at Alaunstraße. A
luminous blue wall indicates the location of the Geldschneider & Co. steam-punk workshop. Among others you will find beautiful jewellery made from recycled parts of abandoned analog wrist watches. The place has somewhat erratic opening hours, so step by when nearby (if you need to plan ahead: Saturdays seem a safe bet). If closed during regular German shop opening hours you may call the phone number given on the entrance door.
As in many other German cities the first address for colourful gifts as well as organic sweets, spices and condiments are fair-trade shops founded as grassroots activities by Christian parish members in accordance with the conciliar process of mutual commitment (covenant) to justice, peace and the integrity of creation (JPIC). As the host for pioneering regional ecumenical plenums in 1989 and 1990 the city of Dresden has been playing an important role in this process. The spirit of this movement lives on in local fair trade initiatives like Quilombo which for almost 25 years had run a fair-trade shop in the entrance area of Dreikönigskirche in Hauptstraße which played host to the first democratically elected local parliament in Saxony after East Germany's peaceful implosion in 1989. Today the initiative still has a shop in the neighbourhood of Löbtau while their former place in the "Haus der Kirche" ("house of the church") has been converted into fair-trade
Sharing their roots with the Quilombo NGO the team of
Cafe Aha opposite Kreuzkirche runs a fair-trade shop in the heart of the city. It is located in the basement of the cafe and offers an impressive selection of fairly-traded gifts, body care and dry goods. This initiative also runs a fair-trade ...
... boutique, Aha Naturtextilien, on Hauptstraße, offering a great selection of fairly traded fashion made from natural materials. Here you will also find a good selection of stationary, jewellery, eatable fair-trade goods and more. By the way: the name "Aha" is an abbreviation for "trade/act differently" ("anders handeln" in German), and implies a huge effort in not only selling fairly traded goods but offering fair conditions to their own employees.
Another centrally located fair-trade shop specializing in fashion and household accessories as well as coffee and chocolates is Contigo near the central train station.
For more ethically produced and sustainable cocooning items visit Tranquillo, likewise colourful fashion-and-things boutique cum fashion label in the Neustadt neighbourhood, at the crossroad Louisenstraße/Rothenburger Straße. They produce their own women fashion entirely made from organic textiles focussing on basic colours -- if you like Aha Naturtextilien don't miss this one.
Dresden's first fashion boutique exclusively selling fairly produced clothing from fairly traded, organically grown materials is dubbed
can be found at the Western end of Louisenstraße, just before you reach the tram tracks of Königsbrücker Landstraße.
Both, streetware, denim and designer labels can be found here, for men and women. The interior of the shop is to a great deal made from upcycled furniture.
Students and nerds find fairly traded organic cotton t-shirts and sweaters with unique scientific prints at Unipolar, and everyone else organic streetware for both, men and women, aside fairly traded and sustainably produced accessories and kitchen items. This small, Dresden-based fashion label is the brain-child of a former physics student, and has two outlets (in addition to the on-line shop). The original store is located between the Bahnhof Mitte train station and the "Carl Maria von Weber" College of Music, next to the VG warehouse with its well-assorted organic fashion section upstairs. The second Unipolar shop in located in the Neustadt neighbourhood and can easily be found by spotting a bath tub opposite a tram stop in Rothenburger Straße.
If you have a crush on individually made upcycled fashion accessories pay a visit to Ex Animo at Martin-Luther-Platz. The shop specializes in clothes and accessories for babies, toddlers and younger children, but you will find nice gifts for grown-ups (like cigarette wallets), too. Note that it is (like the Unipolar stores) closed on Mondays.
Those on the look-out for beautiful, not overly sweet organic fashion for toddlers and smaller children should step by Elvida in Louisenstraße approximately opposite Planwirtschaft pub and cafe. There you'll find the small flagship store of a Dresden-based sustainable kids fashion label. Unfortunately it currently has quite restricted opening hours: Due to illness the shop may or may not be open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10am, so make sure you are in the vicinity anyway.
Ever fancied a nice custom-tailored dress, blouse, skirt or shirt made from natural materials? On Bautzner Straße at tram stop Pulsnitzer Str. gentlemen's tailor Hüpenthal and ladies' tailor Naumann share a shop formerly known as "Mein schönes Kleid" where they sew pret-a-porter items as well as custom orders from linen, silk, cotton and wool, both evening and casual dresses.
Some of the linen is even woven in the greater vicinity of Dresden, in the region of Niederlausitz near the border to Poland.
If you take the opportunity to hear a classical concert in Dresden chances are high to meet musicians wearing shirts by Herr Hüpenthal which, although custom-made are recognisable by their unique signature collars. Prices for men shirts start approximately at well invested 175 EUR, and cards are not accepted. The opening hours listed below usually apply but since the shop also serves as workshop you may be lucky enough to find one of the tailors at work on Mondays and Saturday afternoons, too.
Ceased to exist
The following places shut down, so don't be mislead when you find references to them on the web:
[Dresden, Neustadt, shopping, organic, fair, fashion, spices, herbs, delicatessen, gifts, upcycling, steampunk, bodycare]
Saturday, 30 June 2018
Cities with major universities have had organic shops long before the arrival of the big organic supermarkets, and Göttingen doesn't make an exception:
Probably the eldest still existing organic cafe in town is
serving tapas, sandwiches and small dishes with a Bolivian touch to it, or at least what a students' cafe is offering as such: good and filling due to proper organic ingredients, but far from any ambition for authenticity. The "Inti-Tasche" for example isn't a corn tortilla wrap but a plain white ciabatta-type roll filled with Italian-style antipasti. Needless to say that they offer Italian-style fairly traded coffee drinks and yummy cakes, and what's even better: They serve breakfast until 2pm. A welcoming place all day around if you like places with a liberal collegiate atmosphere whereof there are quite a number in the city.
Another one of them is
Dabis Kaffeestube, an alternative cultural hotspot and meeting place a few steps longer East. Among others, this cafe cum tea room serves
organic cakes from Das Backhaus.
If all you want is a coffee shot head for the city's only organic coffee roasters', the
Contigo. This fair-trade shop cum cafe also sells colourful gifts, fashion items, organic coffee and chocolates.
A fully organic dinner restaurant I wasn't able to spot during my shorter than one-day stay, but
lokal neun, directly located at the market place Am Wochenmarkt serves organic burgers and steaks, and is a pleasant place to enjoy a summer evening outside.
[Goettingen, organic, fair, coffee, tea, breakfast, lunch, dinner, cafe, restaurant, gifts]
Monday, 28 May 2018
To no surprise Padua has a branch of the
artisanal ice-cream parlour chain
Grom: The Grom in the city center is located
at Piazza dei Signori and serves gorgeous ice-cream flavours made from organic milk, and often (though never guaranteed) more organic ingredients as well as iced lollies (ghiaccioli) and natural slushes (granite). They have a second branch in Via Roma.
But it gets even better! About 50 meters east from the Grom at Piazza dei Signori you'll find the city's only fully organic ice-cream parlour,
Gelateria Gnam Gnam, and so you can compare the taste of partially and fully organic fare.
I was amazed how much delight one can still add when restricting oneself to 100 percent organic ingredients. The ice-cream was extremely delicate, with a lot of surprising flavours such as "cinnamon and ginger" or "pineapple and ginger", about one third of them vegan, the smallest portion for 1.80 EUR. For additional 60 cents you can choose the flavour of your wafer cone: plain of course, or perhaps ginger, cinnamon, liquorice...? The (vegan) slush goes here under the name Venetian ghiacciate, and can be had in eight different flavours, small, medium, and large (small for 2.60 EUR, medium for 3.60, large for 5). My coffee ghiacciate was a deliciously melting dream, ways better than the extremely tasty one I had a couple of years ago at a Grom branch in Florence. Apart from this you can have a freshly pressed fruit juice or a chocolate-coated ghiacciolo.
If you find it difficult to part buy a package of their organic meringues or a small glass of the organic spices they use (like cinnamon, liquorice, curcuma or ginger) for you or as a small gift.
For a change you may also try ICream.it North of Prato della Valle. Their ice-cream is hidden in locked containers instead of openly presented, an important sign for high quality ingredients and no fuzz processing. Flavouring ingredients like basil or matcha often are organic and play the most important part in extremely smooth non-diary ice-creams (I had an intense yet delicate lemon-basil which unfortunately isn't always available). The milk used in the non-vegan flavours is not organic, but feel free to enquire about the origin of the ingredients: When I was there the staff was both friendly and knowlegeable. A single scoop goes for 2 EUR.
[Padua, Padova, biologico, organic, vegan, ice-cream, gifts]