Tuesday, 20 September 2022
Many years ago I noticed a sign post in Munich: This way to Venice on bike.
Since then the idea has been developing, and this year I had almost sufficient time off to get on the road from
Munich to Venice.
Almost: To cross the alpes and the dolomites comfortably, in style and on the same motorless bike used in daily city traffic five days
are not enough.
Accommodation on the route
The route's official webpage has a directory of bicycle-friendly accommodations, but since you cannot simply search for a place its use is limited. More, (sometime the same) places can be found on the reliable
Bett&Bike site run by Germany's bicycle association, the ADFC.
Unfortunately none of these directories allows to filter for environment- and climate-relevant measures like organic breakfast, use of renewable energies or environment-friendly cleaning agents.
These efforts towards sustainable tourism are taken into account by the EcoBNB platform.
Most other cyclists we met on the route had a tent with them, certainly the cheapest, but also the most uncomfortable way to spend the nights. We preferred to carry a minimum of luggage, and decided on a budget between 100 and 200 EUR for the night. Unfortunately this budget was too tight for the places I found where you probably could have a fully organic breakfast.
For the first and last stop, Innsbruck and Venice we booked accommodation upfront, but being unfamiliar with the route we decided on last-minute booking directly from the hotels.
The first night we spent at
Hostel Marmota in Innsbruck. It has a spacious bicycle storage room in the basement which is locked during the night. Arriving late was no issue; even though the reception did not answer the phone. The bar did not offer any organic refreshments, but there was one type of organic tea and organic oat drink at the breakfast buffet. Clean, basic, no-frills room.
For the second night in the Puster valley my partner learned a lesson: Do not rely on Google Maps (personally I don't use Google services unless forced to): Even a few kilometers can be very long when they turn out to be uphill after a day on the bike. Our last minute booking call
to Naturhotel Edelweiß in Terenten/Terento
resulted in a very friendly price for a spacious, very nice, wood-furnished room including four-course dinner (for guests only).
The kitchen at this family-run hotel uses local ingredients, but isn't suitable for vegetarians. Also here the only organic items on the breakfast buffet were one type of tea and a plant-based drink (soy in this case). There's no storage room for bikes, but we were allowed to park directly in front of the hotel and turned out to be an attraction for car-dependent hotel guests.
Famous for hosting the winter olympics of 1956 the 2022 version of Cortina d'Ampezzo in the Dolomites turned out to be a single expensive (though still quite elegant) pedestrian street in the middle of a car jam which even us on our bikes forced into a stop-and-go. The most expensive night of our tour we spent in
a basic room with plush furniture at Hotel Montana with a very nice view from the balcony and the air of past grandezza. In addition to the one variety of organic tea and organic soy drink (by now experienced as a sort of minimal standard) the breakfast buffet offered one variety of organic blueberry jam!
The hotel was listed as bike-friendly, and indeed, we could store the bikes in a crammed storage room dedicated to the purpose.
The last night on the way to Venice we spent in Conegliano, at
Relais Le Betulle which we found at at EcoBNB. Their hotel restaurant, Enrica Miron, serves organic meat and eggs, and we were very satisfied with our carte blanche
menu of the day. The breakfast buffet however did not offer more organic items than we by now found usual. There's no dedicated parking space for bikes; we were allowed to take the bikes on the (spacious) room (which had sufficient space on the balcony), but decided to use a car parking lot.
To find a bicycle-friendly accommodation at the final destination, Venice, is not so easy given the aquatic nature of the city. Riding a bike is possible on the Lido, and from a previous bike tour through the Veneto (via Chioggia) we knew that the friendly, family-run
Villa Casanova would allow us to park the bikes in its backyard. From that visit we also knew not to expect any organic items on the breakfast buffet (not even tea and milk), despite the fact that the hotel advertises partially organic breakfast. But the rooms are pleasant and the price is friendly compared with Venice standard.
- Hostel Marmota, Tummelplatzweg 2, Innsbruck
- Naturhotel Edelweiss, Unterdorfstr. 6, Terenten/Terento
- Hotel Montana, Corso Italia 94
, Cortina d'Ampezzo
- Relais le Betulle, Via Costa Alta, 56, Conegliano
- Villa Casanova, Via Orso Partecipazio, 9, Lido di Venezia
More to try
For the following hotels I found sufficient evidence for use of organic produce in the kitchen and/or a significant part of organic food and drinks at the breakfast buffet, but I cannot give an eyewitness account.
[The_Conscious_Traveller, MuenchenVenezia, Germany, Austria, Italy, Munich, eco, trains, bikeroutes]
Tuesday, 13 September 2022
On a long-distance bike tour like the one from Munich to Venice the challenge is not to know when you will arrive where. So upfront research on the net isn't an option unless you really have lots of time to spend on preparing the tour. So when we arrived in Bruneck at lunch time my backlist contained only one item, a small organic supermarket which not only was closed for the
traditional Italian lunch break, but had closed for good a few monthes ago, in June 2022.
Luckily we found a branch of the South-Tyrolean delicatessen
Pur Südtirol selling regional produce, a majority of certified organic quality. Everything is presented in style, there's an organic bakery till and one for cheese and (not organic) cold cuts. A few gravity bins allow customers to refill dry food (not organic as far as I could see); the fresh fruits and greens were all organic.
There's a nice self-serviced cafe corner offering a daily changing seasonal vegetarian main course. Since we wanted to have our bikes within eye-sight outdoor seating was the only option. Unfortunately all these tables were taken, so we decided to proceed our tour through the Puster valley and take with us rolls, which the friendly service staff filled with cheese and some greens while I was waiting.
Across the main street, Graben, a health-food shop, the
Reformhaus Egger can help to complete supplies.
More to try
[The_Conscious_Traveller, Italy, Bruneck, Brunico, Pustertal, Puster_Valley, MuenchenVenezia, organic, biologico, supermarkets, grocery, cafe, eatery, lunch, deli, zero_waste]
Monday, 12 September 2022
The nice little town of Sterzing is not only a train stop on the reliable European train route from Munich over the Alpes to the Veneto, operated by Austrian ÖBB; it's also a destination on the bike route München–Venezia. Unfortunately we arrived there on a Sunday when shops are closed. We did not find a place to have an organic lunch (locals, please help!), so this post is based on up-front research on the net, window shopping on destination and more research on the net afterwards.
On a weekday I would have loved to have a glass of milk at the milk shops of the local organic dairy Milchhof Sterzing. There's one
on the premises of the dairy and a second one in the new town of Sterzing, the Neustadt.
A few steps further down the pedestrian street there's a wonderfully looking delicatessen shop,
Gut&Gerne, offering a good deal organic products from the region. The shop is a venture of the family-run Hotel Lilie nearby and you can buy convenience food from the hotel kitchen and bakery.
The hotel itself does not advertise organic breakfast, but they have dairy products of the Milchhof Sterzing, and given the Gut&Gerne shop window you will likely find more organically or at least more sustainably produced agricultural products from the region. To which extend the hotel restaurant and cafe use organic products I cannot say.
[The_Conscious_Traveller, Italy, Sterzing, Vipiteno, MuenchenVenezia, organic]
Sunday, 11 September 2022
The hanseatic city of Bremen is one of Germany's most bicycle-friendly cities and a destination of several short and long distance well-kept bicycle routes, among others the Weser bicycle route. Given the shortage of bicycle space in rapid long distance Deutsche Bahn trains it may however be challenging to get here by train with bikes, especially on short notice and during high traffic periods on summer weekends or school and public holidays.
The city has been climate- and environmentally (as well as socially) conscious for a much longer time than most other major German cities, and so you'll find
probably many more interesting places than I am able to list here.
Public transport and bike rental
Bremen has a generally well working tram and bus system for which tickets are easily available from ticket machines inside the vehicles. As these ticket machines accept cash you can travel without additional carbon dioxide emissions generated by data tracking apps.
People in Bremen use the bike a lot: With many bicycle lanes, bicycle-first streets paved in red and virtually no hills it's convenient to ride a bike even with a Dutch bike and when it's raining. Compared with other major (German) cities most car drivers are used to bike trafffic and behave respectfully.
To rent a bike there are several app-based schemes. I prefer the friendly service of local bike shops which not only spares the climate for extra carbon dioxide emissions by privacy-invading
data tracking, but allows for chats with interesting local people.
Unfortunately, the most convenient of them, the ADFC-Radstation at the main train station closed in 2021 in consequence of the covid-19 pandemics. So you have to invest half an hour or so to find one of the reliable bike shops with rental service during their opening hours. You may prefer to ring in upfront to make sure a bike is waiting for you (especially for the weekend). Prices in 2022 were about 12 EUR per day for a 3-gears Dutch bike.
Most of the shops I know of are in the bicycle-friendly neighbourhood of Neustadt: The Fahrradstation Neustadt (which I have not used yet) and
Fahrrad Witt at few steps from the tram stop "Pappelstraße". The latter is very convenient as you can return the bike out of their opening hours: Lock it to a chain in front of the shop, put the key into the letter box and send a text to the shop. The number also works as a help line in case the bike is broken, even outside the opening hours.
Renting bicycles for kids is less easy, but the
Bartels bike shop in
Oberneuland will happily help you if you let them know in advance. The downside is that this shop is quite a way from the city.
1-2-3 Rad at Buntentorsteinweg also offers bikes for kids and youth (as well as tandems) but I haven't used them yet.
[The_Conscious_Traveller, Germany, Bremen, Lilienthal, Neustadt, Weserradweg, bicycle]
Wednesday, 07 September 2022
Innsbruck was a Saturday-to-Sunday overnight stop on the München-Venezia bike route, so this guide is far from complete! The only thing I can say for sure is that finding a (partially) organic place open on Sundays isn't easy.
My first impulse for an organic Sunday morning coffee was Cafe Crema in Welsergasse, a few steps from Landhausplatz, but the place turned out to be closed on Sundays. They promise to use a good deal organic produce from Tyrolean farmers. The coffee is only fairly traded, not organic. You may expect home-made cakes and a small range of savoury snacks for lunch or breakfast.
With option number two I was luckier: Although the Moustache looked like a decent (American-style) bar for an evening out and quite closed from its street address in the morning it turned out that the proper entrance was from Domsplatz, with pleasant outdoor seating. On Sunday mornings they do not serve the usual falafel and hummus sandwiches, but offer a generous brunch buffet, including very palatable hummus, pancakes and cake. About 90 percent of the food, so the promise goes, should be organic.
Unfortunately I was too busy to try all the good stuff on the buffet that I completely forgot to scrutinise the bottles in the adjacent main room. But since the bar looked very well assorted I am sure the bartender will offer an organic gin or more if you ask.
More to try
I love food markets, and had I been in Innsbruck on a week- or Saturday I would have loved to have breakfast or lunch at the
Klein und fein cafe in the Markthalle. Their lunch menu sports a mixture of international classics and Austrian dishes, predominantly vegetarian and made with local, often organic ingredients. They also offer ice-cream made from organic milk. Unfortunately the place is going to close mid of September, 2022. Whether their home-base shop is open to the public I cannot say, but it's certainly not a public restaurant.
As the original plan was to eat out late on Saturday night, I had the sister restaurant to the Salzburg burger grill Ludwig on my list. On Sundays the place is closed.
Next time I'll come to Innsbruck I hope to visit Oscar kocht, the vegetarian restaurant of a chef with Mexican roots promising to cook with predominantly organic ingredients. In summer 2022 Oscar wasn't here, and the female duo of Sloe was serving vegetarian/vegan dinner in this location, though not on Sundays.
When I checked for bicycle-friendly hotels on the München-Venezia bike route I found a hotel that I already had on my shortlist of overnight options offering at least partially organic breakfast:
the Hotel Schwarzer Adler.
Unfortunately our budget wasn't prepared for the price tag they called for that night (more than 300 EUR for the double room), and so the place remains unreviewed here. (The night was spent in a hostel offering organic tea and plant-based drink – not enough to qualify for this post.)
[The_Conscious_Traveller, Austria, Innsbruck, MuenchenVenezia, organic, lunch, dinner, restaurant, cafe, coffee, vegetarian, ice-cream]