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]
Saturday, 16 November 2019
If you prefer to set out on a shopping spree on a bicycle and prefer a rented bike that is not tracking you pay a visit to Fahrrad Schieber, a more than one hundred years local bicycle workshop located a few steps from the Wasserturm landmark within the squared part of town, the "Quadrate".
For 10 EUR a day (as of 2019) you will be provided with a well maintained used bike. If it against all odds breaks during your trip, do not hesitate to step by, it will be fixed promptly.
Founded almost 25 years ago your first stop could be HautNah, a fashion boutique specializing in ecologically and fairly produced clothes made from natural materials. The shop is a member of the
International Association of Natural Textiles (iVN) and aims at those looking for classical long-living cuts rather than at cutting-edge fashionistas (for trending fashion you may try the shops listed below). Needless to say that HautNah also offers an assortment of healthy outfits for babies and toddlers.
For shoes proceed a few steps along the Kaiserring to Fußspur ("foot trace"), a small local chain specialising in environmentally friendly produced and European-made shoes.
Leaving the ring road and entering the Quadrate through Kunststraße you'll find a tea shop of the
Tee Gschwendtner franchise. Although this specialist chain is selling conventionally produced teas and tisanes in the first place its shops have proved to be a trustworthy source of organic teas and herbal infusions for years. You can buy all kinds of loose teas and herbal infusions as well as high quality tea bags and even pre-fab iced teas, and there will usually be organic options. Although most teas will be filled into bags before your eyes there's always a minimum quantum you have to buy (usually 50 or 100 grams), and you have to buy standardized packages (bigger sizes being 250 or 500 grams).
Even longer west in the Quadrate area, located between the castle and parade square the new Umgekrempelt ("rolled up" and/or "turned inside out") clothes boutique offers both, fairly traded and organic slow fashion as well as a repair service and upcycling workshops. In addition you'll find a lot of accessoiries and gifts here, and even plastics-free degradable glitter. Note that this likeable shop keeps closed both, on Mondays and for a (rather late) lunch break.
Leaving the Quadrate for the eastern part of town the Wohnhunger gift shop next to Eddie's zero waste supermarket offers
a selection of organic delicatessen like coffee, soups, chocolates, liquors, herbs and spices,
some zero-waste items like natural soap and cotton dish washing clothes and a lot of other cosy things.
Unfortunately the organic coffee isn't used at the coffee bar, and the milk for the coffee drinks isn't organic. About three years ago the shop also offered an organic soup or stew for lunch, but these are songs from the past.
On your way you'll also pass Weinrefugium, an upmarket, carefully designed wine shop offering a good selection of natural and organic wines. (For more and only organic wines visit the Bittersüß delicatessen in Neckarau.)
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!
online tourist guide suggests to get yourself a "bio" picnic basket for a stroll at the embankments. Don't fall for it! The only organic items that come with this "Wellness-Korb für Vegetarier" are two bottles of the organic bionade soft drink:
- Die Metzgerei, Rheinparkstr. 4 (bistro in the Lindenhof neighbourhood)
The following places do no longer exist, although you still might find references to them on the web:
- Fairbrothers, C 8, 18 (fairly traded organic fashion)
[Mannheim, organic, shopping, organic, fair, fashion, shoes, spices, delicatessen, gifts, bodycare, coffee, tea, cycling, zero_waste, wine, bicycle]
Sunday, 23 June 2019
Whether you're after a noisy beach holiday at the Adriatic coast or want to escape the buzz of Venice but stay within the Venetian magic -- the former fisher town of Chioggia with the suburb of Sottomarina and its beach is definitely worth a visit. It's easy to reach by local train from Rovigo -- a travel back in time with noisy cars, some of them without air conditioning, where you open the windows in the vain hope that the hot summer wind will refresh you --, bicycle or bus no 11 from Lido SME. The latter travels on board of a ro-ro ferry at the south-end of the Lido di Venezia at Alberoni over to the isle of Pellestrina. At the ferry terminal next to the Pellestrina graveyard, Cimitero Pellestrina, the bus ends and you go on board of the waterbus ferry with the same name, to Chioggia.
If coming by bicycle from Venezia Santa Lucia train station take the ferry no. 17 from Tronchetto to Lido San Nicolo (from the train station you must carry your bike over the steps of the Ponte della Costituzione bridge), and simply follow the direction of the bus (the bicycle route over the islands is properly marked). You will also take the ro-ro ferry from Alberoni and later the waterbus from Pellestrina to Chioggia. For persons the ferries are covered by the ACTV day, two-days and three-days passes bought in Venice but you have to buy additional bicyles tickets at one EUR per bike and ferry ride.
Where to stay
Unfortunately I wasn't able to find any places to eat and stay with a throughout trustworthy eco-conscious mindset. The nearest you get for a sustainable overnight stay is Hotel Mediterraneo, directly located at Sottomarina's beach promenade, the Lungomare Adriatico. The hotel with its pleasant rooftop terrace carries the Legambiente ecolabel for sustainable tourism. However: The promised organic breakfast was predominantly conventional, with the notable exceptions of -- unfortunately prepackaged -- rice wafers and rusk (the latter was also available in a conventional variety), organic honey, and two types of (yummy) organic biscuits. Neither the tea bags, the bread nor the milk were organic, and the coffee from the automatic machine completely undrinkable for Italian standards. The hotel itself certainly fullfills higher eco demands than average, but they easily could do better introducing waste separation, re-usable toothbrush tumblers and natural body care on the rooms, and of course by raising the number of organic products notably.
Having said this, the hotel manager, Sonia, was cordial and helpful, the room clean and suitable for a family, with actual sea view, and sufficiently isolated against the noises of the beach party places -- off-season. The washing and cleaning detergents used on the room as well as on the bed linen and towels did not leave disturbing remainders of artificial perfumes. The a la carte menu on the hotel's restaurant, Saporoso, was done by a skilled chef which should better have had organic ingredients at hand, to enhance the taste to very good.
Where to eat
Sad to say but if you really want to eat organic you have to buy your own food for a pic-nic -- at least I wasn't able to spot at minimum predominantly organic eateries or restaurants. Let me know if you find one!
Your next best bet may be
Pizza Fantasy, a beach shack pizza restaurant next to the Astoria Village pleasure ground at the Lungomare. On occasions they seem to use organic wholemeal flour and olive oil for the dough, and this may point to a generally more conscious mindset. However I wasn't able to confirm the general use of organic ingredients.
For lunch you may also check out the sandwiches at Tentazioni Tipiche in the old town of Chioggia a few steps from the ACTV ferry stop, but again I cannot say how reliably they contain (or rather: not) organic produce.
The tour through the ice-cream parlours near Sottomarina beach starts with a case of greenwashing: L'Arte del Gelato da Marco e Giulio
advertises to use organic milk, but take this with a grain of salt: The 10 liters milk boxes by Parmalat delivered to the place were without doubt not lavelled organic. The ice-cream and the frozen yogurt are nevertheless smooth and easily palatable, though too sweet for my taste. None of the toppings for the frozen yogurt were organic. They take 1.80 EUR for a generous small serving of ice-cream, and 2.50 EUR for a small frozen yogurt with two toppings. The queue during evening hours makes it easy to identify this place on Piazza Italia.
A few steps along the roundabout, and you'll find L'Oasi del Gelato. The ice-cream here still looks very conventional, but for 2019 the owners promised to start using organic products -- organic milk in general, but also (on occasions) organic strawberries. How far they've already embraced this path I cannot say, but: Keep on going!
The Grom chain of ice-cream parlours stopped promising organic ingredients in 2019 (except for the milk in the milk shakes), but for the records: Yes, there's a Grom branch at the Lungomare.
The best source of organic food I could find is just around the corner from the ice-cream parlours at the Piazza Italia roundabout: Nuovi Sapori da Laura e Elena is a small, Sunday-open convenience store offering organic milk (the very lattebusche milk promised by the L'Oasi gelateria), juices, cheese, cookies, jam, wine, a good selection of dry food, and more -- you'll have to check for organic labels and ask at the cheese-and-meat counter.
The traditional Italian Tentazioni Tipiche delicatessen at the northern end of Corso del Popolo
next to Palazzo delle Figure in the old town of Chioggia is another small
grocery offering a -- rather limited -- range of organic (dry) food.
For organic and fairly traded bodycare (though no sun cream), dry food, sweets, preserves, wine, soft drinks, fairly traded fashion accessoiries and gifts head to the southern end of the corso: The Altromercato Commercio equo e sociale also stocks (not always certified organic) products of territories freed from the mafia, under the Libera Terra ("freed land") label.
More organic body care, using hemp as an ingredient, and other (partially organic) hemp products can be found at Canapa for you in Sottomarina which I did not have time to visit.
Some organic products are also available from the Supercoffeeshop coffee bar in Sottomarina. The coffee probably isn't organic, and I cannot say anything about the milk since I could not make it there.
If you are adventurous try to find Le verdure di Marco e Camilla in the old town of Chioggia, supposedly a quite new full-blown organic grocery also selling
fresh organic fruits and veges. I did not have the time to find the place, so please let me know if you know where exactly it is located.
More to try
[Chioggia, Sottomarina, biologico, organic, ice-cream, supermarkets, grocery, bicycle, hotel, accommodation, fair, gifts, shopping, bodycare, coffee, cafe, hemp]