The Organic Traveller
Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Covid-19 and this (travel) guide

The current pandemic renders a lot of my reviews in this blog useless: Restaurants and cafes are closed completely or have restricted opening hours, are closed in the evenings and only offer food to take away during the day. Non-food shops are closed entirely, supermarkets may have both, longer and shorter opening hours than usual, and some use special regulations to open on Sundays. Although I will continue to update this blog the best I can I'm feeling incapable of keeping track with all changes even in my vicinity. Articles with covid-19 updates can be found here. But if you take the time at home to plan your next travel after the pandemic I'm afraid cannot guarantee that all reviewed places are going to survive. For the November being restaurants, eateries and cafes in Germany are restricted to take-away, so many will be closed completely.

Social distancing and enforced hygienic measures decrease our ability to minimise package waste: However, as smear infections with covid-19 are negligible most bakeries, butcher shops, meat and cheese counters within supermarkets and restaurant take-away resumed to fill their customers' purchase into their bags and boxes. Organic supermarkets and farmers' markets are selling unpackaged fruits and veges as usual, you can prefer deposit bottles and jars to one-way plastic ones, and you can refill your own jars and containers with dry food, oil, vinegar, toiletries, household chemicals and more at zero waste convenience stores. Buy local! For most of the independent shops this is a veritable crisis, and you help them survive when you buy and order from them directly.

2020-11-11 07:00:00 [organic, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, lunch, restaurants, covid, corona] Link

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Sunday, 27 September 2020

Bremen: (American) bars

An evening out with organic dinner and later a civilized drink at a bar? While in other cities it can be quite challenging to find an organic drink outside of restaurants Bremen has dedicated American-style bars where you can have fully organic drinks and at least partially organic cocktails until late at night.

Papp

Not only during corona pandemics: What about a (late) summer night drink with a view on the Weser river? The pop-up bar Papp at the South-Eastern side of St. Pauli bridge (the prolongation of Wilhelm Kaisen bridge) isn't as pop-up as its location in a shack near the river shore might suggests as it has been there since summer 2015. There's a spacious square under trees in front of the tiny bar, sometimes with live concerts or electronic music. During the day time you may come here and have a coffee (and cake), a soft drink or even a bottle of beer.

In the Viertel neighbourhood, near Sielwall the Heldenbar ("Heroes' bar") comprises the entrance to the Cinema im Ostertor where films have been shown continously since 1959. The rustic craft beer place is notorious for its Wednesday quiz nights which you can also survive with a great selections of gins. While it is advisable to ask for organic alcoholic drinks most soft drinks are organic and fairly traded (as is the coffee).

2020-09-27 16:00:00 [Bremen, organic, coffee, bar, beergarden] Link

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Tuesday, 08 September 2020

Bremen: Zero-waste

When dedicated zero waste convenience stores started to bloom in bigger cities like Munich in the covid-19 spring of 2020 Bremen already had three established package-free shops, with a fourth one that opened its door early in 2020 and plans for two more in summer 2020.

L'Epicerie Bio

All you need for the day

My favourite is crowd-funded L'Epicerie Bio in the Neustadt neighbourhood, just across Wilhelm Kaisen bridge. Lovingly decorated in the style of an old colonial shop you'll find an abundance of food, spices, sweets and wine, body care and household items here, including fresh fruits and veges and pet food by the gram. There's no separate customers' scale, instead the friendly shop owner wil take the tax weight of your boxes and jars. As you marvel at the interior you may buy a coffee or refreshment, but there's no real cafe corner.

Fuellkorn

While L'Epicerie is as far as you get from the carrots-and-dungarees cliche of a traditional organic grocery of the 1970ies, the second package-free shop in the Neustadt looks exactly like a traditional Bremen organic cornerstore 2.0: The dusty shop window of Füllkorn, with some wilted potted plants makes it difficult for passers-by to even spot the place. Inside everything is spotlessly clean of course, and there's also a coffee and refreshment option. Unfortunately the shop was closed when I was there, but I'm sure it's friendly and welcoming, too.

The newest package-free shop in town is Die Füllerei in Findorff which opened in February 2020. With a beautiful flower-bed in front of it you cannot miss the shop even though I couldn't make it here during their opening hours. Unlike the two shops in the Neustadt there's a vending machine for fresh milk from the Blockland. The soap bars are produced in the very neighbourhood, by Martha's Corner, and the washable cosmetic pads and bags are made by a local plastic-free fashion label, Mamoana, with its the Oceanlovers concept store in nearby Admiralstraße. Just from the looks clearly my second favourite.

There's a fourth package-free convenience store at the end of the Steintor road, Selfair, directly located at the tram stop "Am Schwarzen Meer". Unfortunately my stay wasn't long enough to pay a visit, but the people I spoke with confirmed that it's a pleasant place to do your shopping. It has the most liberal opening hours of all and is open even on Sundays!

Farm shop Dehlwes

If you take a bicycle tour to Lilienthal (which -- despite the fact that the Bremen tram no. 4 ends here -- isn't a part of Bremen, but a municipality in the adjacent state of Lower Saxony) make sure to stop by the wonderful farmshop of the organic farm dairy Dehlwes with its milk and buttermilk vending machines. The milk is guaranteed to travel no longer that 10 kilometres on average and is processed here exclusively. Although the shop isn't decidedly zero waste (in fact all other dairy products and the meat in the fridge and freezer are pre-packaged in plastics) the friendly shop assistant will happily fill your bags with bread, rolls and pastries and your boxes and jars with cheese and meat products from the sales counter. All cattle, milk and bakery products as well as mindblowingly fresh veges, fruits and (in summer) berries come from the close region (there's a separate shelf for imported fruit and veges), and -- following the nose-to-tail approach -- you will also find ready-made meat and offal preparations in glass jars. Just across the street you can pay a visit to the farm's own cows and hens. There used to be a small cafe on the street, the Melkhus, which in summer 2020 was closed due to covid-19 conditions.

One supplying farm to the Dehlwes dairy is the one run by the Kaemena family which has their own 24x7 open milk vending machine.

Package-free sale of bakery items and cheeses over the counter, loose fruit and veges as well as dairy products and drinks in returnable bottles and glasses are of course the norm in all traditional organic convenience stores like the city's oldest organic grocery Kraut und Rüben ("cabbage and roots") in the Ostertor neighbourhood, the co-operative Oecotop in the Neustadt or the Kornkraft supermarket in Habenhausen with its day cafe which is part of a small local supermarket chain.

Abakus

Traditional co-operatively driven convenience stores in Bremen are all open to the general public by now, and so is Abakus in Steintor founded in 1998 which in 2020 repeatedly was voted one of Germany's best organic groceries. The shop which doesn't hide its political views doesn't have a working web site, but sells loose-weight grains and cereals. When I was there again in summer 2020 there was however an information that they wouldn't order more muesli unless the demand by members of the co-operative was bound to increase.

Specialist shops for body care

Opened 20 years later Martha’s Corner in Findorff is a heaven for body care addicts. Don't be mistaken, the owner and mastermind isn't Martha, but Claudia, offering hand-made natural soaps, solid shampoos, deodorants, body and lip butters and more, made here on premise. Bring back the deodorant and cream jars for refill and keep in mind that the shop is closed on production days.

During the nice season Der Fährmann Antony ("Antony the ferryman") sells hand-made natural shea and cocoa butter from Ghana on a mobile booth on the Kaemena farm in Blockland. Come with your own jar, and he will happily fill it for you. The opening hours below should however be taken with a grain of salt -- when the weather is too cloudy Anthony may decide that the effort of his bicycle tour out into the Blockland wouldn't match his sales expectation.

Closed

2020-09-08 17:00:00 [Bremen, Lilienthal, organic, lunch, coffee, cafe, grocery, supermarket, vegan, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, bodycare, gifts, butcher, fashion] Link

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Friday, 21 August 2020

Schmilka near Dresden: An organic day out in Saxon Switzerland

The rough and picturesque sandstone hills of Saxon Switzerland did not only inspire painters and componists of romanticism, but have been valued for centuries by both, alpinists as well as walkers and ramblers. Located at the border to the Czech republic it takes an urban train ride from Dresden (or a bicycle tour along the Elberadweg cycle route) to get here, either for a wee day out in the countryside or for a vacation inside the National park.

Villa Thusnelda

If you get off the S1 urban train in direction Schöna at the stop Hirschmühle Schmilka, and take the ferry to the Northern shore of the Elbe river you'll reach the village of Schmilka which, to a large degree, has been developed into an organic resort during the past years. The ferry is operated on demand, so simply go down to the landing stage and wait until the coxswain will see and fetch you.

Schmilk'sche Mühle

The nucleus of the organic village is Hotel Helvetia which you will find, turning West (i.e. to the left), after a five minutes walk along the river shore. Its organic cafe and restaurant dubbed Strandgut ("stranded goods") serves both, the high quality no-frills salad for passers-by on a bicycle or walking tour as well as fine seasonal food drawing from both, the kitchen traditions of the region and the mediterranean. Both, vegans, fish and meat lovers are catered for with care, and if you are in the mood for a dessert, try the "Kalter Hund" ("cold dog") pudding made from cookies and chocolate, a children's favourite in former East Germany (though back then made with inferior ingredients). Unfortunately the cafe does not own a real Italian coffee machine, so the quality of the Italian-style coffee drinks is not as good as one would expect for a hotel in this category. If you stay overnight the hotel bar will however be able to provide you with a fully organic nightcap. However, due to renewal of the kitchen and restaurant facilities bar and restaurant will be closed until somewhen in September, 2020.

Usually the hotel reception serves as check-in for all eco-friendly overnight options in the village, among others Villa Thusnelda next to the ferry stop with its luxury rooms, but until the refurbishment will be finished, the check-in is at the street corner just across the road. The villa itself houses historical Café Richter with the air of a classical spa coffeehouse, offering dinner from 5 am while the Strandgut restaurant is closed.

Mühlenstube

A sign at the cafe will guide you to the village's operating water mill, the Schmilk'sche Mühle further up the road in the direction of the forest, with its rustic mill restaurant, the Mühlenstube of Gasthof zur Mühle at the right hand side. Hearty local stews and soups (one vegetarian, one omnivore), pizza, bread and cake from the artisanal organic bakery opposite and tasty, heavy beer from the Braumanufaktur brewery which you cross on the way from the river are served here, either inside or in the beer garden. Depending on the weather and season you will have to order at the bar inside or from the outdoor food stall. Here you also can buy beer, bread and cakes to take home when the bakery next door is closed.

If you stay overnight in one of the rustic and lovingly restored rooms at the mill -- they have double rooms as well as family appartments -- you will have your breakfast at the Mühlenstube.

The bakery opens at dusk, and what hasn't been sold on closing time will be sold by the Mühlenstube. Due to covid-19 restrictions there's now an open air sales booth a few meters up the hill which also sells (conventional) whipped ice-cream when the weather is nice. Opening hours of the brewery are restricted to the guided tours on Wednesdays and Sundays. If you stay within the resort a small tour inside the mill and the brewery is included in the package.

Closed

2020-08-21 10:00:00 [Dresden, Bad_Schandau, Schmilka, Saechsische_Schweiz, Saxon_Switzerland, organic, vegan, coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, restaurant, pub, cafe, bakeries, breweries, hotel, accommodation, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg, corona, covid] Link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author: E-mail · Mastodon · Vero · Ello.

Sunday, 16 August 2020

Bremen: Organic coffee and tea houses

A hotspot for the coffee and tea trade the Hanseatic city of Bremen has a tradition for exotic beverages, and has always been a place with room for a subtler and more sophisticated approach to these beverages than the conventional mass-market. Organic and ecological projects have been blooming here for much longer than elsewhere, and so you can expect to find long established organic places blossoming alongside recent start-ups. What you will rarely find however are shiny, polished hipster cafes.

Radieschen

Neustadt

If you have to describe this neighbourhood in a sentence you'd probably point to the omnipresence of flee market-purchased furniture and objects in its lovingly and individually decorated independent shops and cafes. The beer tables on the pleasant garden terrace of Cafe Radieschen ("radish") as well as its indoor walls are all painted pink! If you come hungry first have a predominantly organic vegetarian or vegan pasta dish or sandwich before you turn to their impressive choice of home-made, predominantly organic cakes. Most drinks as well as the milk are organic, you can have an organic vegan ice-cream in the summer, and ingredients are sourced locally as far as possible. Lunch is usually offered between 12 am and 3 pm, and instead of the weekend the place is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The cafe plays host to a lot of neighbourhood activities, among them home-cooking events with young refugees from the house across the street. They always take a summer vacation and will be back 19th August, 2020.

Cafe Frida

Closer to Wilhelm Kaisen bridge and a few steps from the Kaemena ice-cream parlour you'll find a sweet art cafe dubbed Cafe Frida. They serve organic tea, soft drinks and soy milk for your coffee drink alongside home-made cakes, but neither the cakes nor the coffee, milk and oat milk are organic. You may however buy organic fairly traded Slokoffie coffee sailed from Honduras and distributed by bicycle to have at home. Due to covid-19 restrictions you can not have breakfast here for the time being.

Viertel

Whether you visit the Kunsthalle museum of art or just come by on your way into the alternative neighbourhood of the Viertel you may step buy for museum's Cafe Sylvette inside the art museum. It's run by the crew of the Canova restaurant behind the museum.

Another cosy and serene place for an Italian-style coffee drink is the Lei bistrot reviewed in the restaurant post.

Schnoor

The city's narrowest lanes are to be found in tourist hotspot Schnoor at the other, Northern shore of the river Weser. To enjoy the atmosphere of this oldest part of town dating back to the 15th and 16th century, follow the Wüstestätte ("waste site") alleyway until the end and have a tea in a beautiful yet narrow two-storey tea house and shop dubbed Teestübchen ("little tea parlour"). Nice weather provided you can also sit outdoor and enjoy breakfast or tea time with a home-made cake, or a high tea with a pasta, typical local dishes, or Alsatian "pizza" (Flammkuchen). Many ingredients are organic, but you might want to be picky when choosing the tea since not all of them are. As long as covid-19 measures are in place you're kindly asked to book a table in advance (+49 421 32 38 67) as the place is tiny.

City centre

During the summer of 2020 the coffee bicycle of Coffee Bike offers Italian-style organic coffee drinks to city dwellers. Looks environment-friendly? Well, you can top it -- with a fairly traded organic coffee transported to Bremen without climate emissions by sailship and bicycle, in an earthenware cup, at the Biten food truck on the Domshof market.

At the university campus

University refectories usually are no gourmet temples, but it is nevertheless a pity that the Mensa refectory on the campus stopped to offer organic side dishes. What you still can have is an organic and fairly traded coffee drink with locally sourced organic milk from the coffee vending machines at Cafe Central. It's not a delight, though -- the coffee tastes bitter from too high a temperature inside the machine, but it's cheap (1.30 EUR) and ethical.

If you want to invest into regular supermarket prices, the new branch of the local Aleco organic supermarket chain on the campus of the economics (Wirtschaftswissenschaften) school of the university has a self-service cafe where you can get organic snacks and coffee drinks. Their coffee machine however is a fully automatic one, so do not expect serious barista fare here neither. Due to covid-19 restrictions the self-service cafe is closed for the time being, but you can get coffee and cake to take away, simply don't forget to bring your own mug and lunch box to avoid waste.

Closed for the covid-19 pandemics

Closed

2020-08-16 16:15:00 [Bremen, Neustadt, Schnoor, Worpswede, organic, fair, vegan, vegetarian, coffee, tea, lunch, cafe, breakfast, covid, corona] Link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author: E-mail · Mastodon · Vero · Ello.