Tuesday, 21 June 2022
Hauptbahnhof (main station) is not just
Europe's largest head train station with fine arched halls and a generous concourse, it's also home to
a Sunday-open two-storey shopping mall dubbed "Promenaden". The shops are predominantly branches of the same boring chains as everywhere but since organic products have been entering the main stream this mall not only gives you the opportunity to replenish stocks when everything else is closed but allows the traveller to quickly shop for organic provisions while changing trains or while the locomotive of their train is being exchanged.
The mall is situated below track level, just walk right away to the arrival hall and take the escalator stairs down. All shops mentioned here are located on ground floor, i.e. one level below the long distance trains.
Your first option is a 100 percent organic supermarket near the Western entry of the mall: The nation-wide operating Alnatura chain is running one of the smaller Alnatura Express convenience stores easily reachable from the tracks around track 8 for last minute provisions. Take the escalator stairs downstairs and turn right (facing away from the tracks), and there you'll easily spot the fresh-green coloured shop – a provider not only of all daily necessities, but also of fully organic snacks and coffee on the go. Unfortunately opening hours on Sundays are limited to the afternoon.
When you find it closed do not despair: Next to it a Rossmann drugstore offers a good selection of organic dry goods, preserves, drinks and natural body care, though less than the DM branch mentioned below. If in a hurry you can buy the following brands without hesitation: "Alverde", "Sante", "Lavera", "Weleda" (toiletries), "EnerBio" and "Veganz" (food, the latter is entirely vegan). Since 2020 the range of environmentally friendlier household items has been on the rise: now you'll find the entire list of grandma's cleaning chemicals in the shelves, both citric and acetic acid as well as soda, beeswax food wraps and more, and in 2021 the company launched their own brand of environmentally certified range of cleaning products, "ecofreude".
The Eastern-most part of the mall (to the right when facing the tracks) houses a branch of the DM Drogeriemarkt
offering an abundance of certified organic dry goods, preserves, drinks, natural body care and eco-friendly household chemicals (see here for a detailed description), in short: everything you need while travelling except for fresh and frozen food.
Still in the East wing though more central you'll find a Vitalia wholefood market which in addition to dry goods, sweets and snacks, toiletries and detergents also sells fresh food: Here you can get organic bakery items and and sandwiches, fresh dairy products and a small selection of organic fresh fruit and veges. Prices here are more upmarket than at the DM branch, and you have to check for organic labels, too, though to a lesser extend. If in doubt the staff is more competent than the one in the drugstore superstores and they are two hours longer open on Sundays than the Alnatura.
If in the mood for a good coffee a difficult question might bother the eco-conscious traveller: Should I have an organic coffee made by the coffee automat of the Alnatura snack bar or do I rather prefer a properly pressure-made yet conventional espresso in the beautiful bookshop cafe Ludwig on track level? I'd love to recommend the latter in this blog but organic ingredients are limited to organic syrup to flavour the coffee and iced tea of Coca Cola's organic brand "Honest". The coffee bar used to have organic apple spritzer but unfortunately no longer. With its beautiful ceiling the well-assorted bookstore however is worth visiting in its own right. While the book shop keeps open longer the cafe is closing at 6 pm.
If you have the time to take a stroll into the city centre, make sure to pay a visit to the bakery of the Macis restaurant a little south of the Thomaskirche yard with the famous Bach memorial, if only to marvel at the mouth-watering fully organic and skillfully decorated cakes and club sandwiches in the shop window. Unlike the organic convenience store next to it the bakery keeps open on Sunday mornings, and if you buy of their artisanal breads some organic butter is absolutely sufficient for a gorgeous picnic.
[Leipzig, organic, vegan, gifts, snacks, lunch, supermarkets, grocery, trainstation, coffee, books, bakeries]
Wednesday, 23 December 2020
In theory we all love them: The small owner-driven shops that surprise us with their unusual selection or combination of goods and food made with love and care,
vibrant places with a special and welcoming atmosphere or homely places of peace where we can sit and wonder and get inspired.
Shops who's owners create a place from their ideas of a human world, who are ready for a chat if desired but not pushy in their
sales attitude. Places that are somehow home away from home, places for a rest or for inspiration. Places where we hopefully buy stuff since we're not forcibly persuaded by aggressive marketing.
And yes. There are these places, and it doesn't come as a surprise that many of these shops offer organic items.
Books and more
Imagine the dry fruit and sweets display of an oriental bazaar stall, and put it in the middle of a crammed book shop filled with mediavistic, orientalistic and cooking literature. When it's possible again sit down in front of the shop or at the single bar table inside and order oriental-style coffee, tea, and mezze. Have a chat with the owner and scroll the book shelves while you wait -- you will find interesting media on medieval arts and crafts, food, biographies of historic persons, films, facts and fiction in German, English, and even French. Your meal -- the falafel, perhaps a soup -- will be fully organic as are the drinks and the home-made dried fruit.
Before covid-19 Saladins Souk in Haidhausen was also a reliable source of sweets imported from Damaskus, and along-side earthen oil lamps and artisanally produced soaps from both, the Provence as well as the now sadly destroyed soap shops in Aleppo, you will find (usually conventional) delicatessen from French supermarkets. The shop (also dubbed Haidhauser Oase as the blackboards in front of it have it) can be found in the beautiful and relaxed part of Haidhausen a few minutes North-West from Ostbahnhof station. Be prepared to find an always changing display of (not always organic) delicatessen often brought by the owner from his travels or made by his friends. The deep-fried lunch items are prepared healthily in a low-fat fryer, and birch sugar is used as sweetener throughout the menu. You can also order lunch delivery as long as you phone in between 10 and 12 am. During the corona year of 2020 the shop had been closed a lot, but the shop-owner confirmed the shop was to open again January 4th, 2021.
Love to sit down with a good book and a glass of good wine? No question, the two are a perfect match, and even if you're more into an organic softdrink (Bionade), the Buchhandlung Lentner bookstore near Rosenheimer Platz with its cosy cafe is a place where you can stay for hours sitting, watching, chatting with the staff and reading. If you're not able to read German shop of their carefully selected wines, some of them organic. They will also order English books for you (send e-mail, phone in or use their webshop in advance), but this may sometimes take longer than the usual overnight order service for German books. Unfortunately, neither the coffee nor the milk are organic, but if you ask they'll perhaps offer it next time.
[Munich, Haidhausen, organic, cafe, coffee, tea, deli, books, lunch, delivery, fashion, French, falafel, shopping, covid, corona]
Saturday, 13 October 2018
At the first glance Budapest is full of organic health (food) shops, Bio Bolt in Hungarian, however, most
of them predominantly deal in pills and powders. So unless dietary supplements (including super foods, plant-based milk alternatives, flours, nuts and other ingredients to prep up your cereals) are what you're looking for or the shop (like the recently opened Bio Egészség Biobolt
behind the Synagogue) is on your track anyway, it's much easier to stick to one of the many
branches of the German DM chemist's chain for travel supplies like organic dry goods, fruit juices, vegan alternatives, eco detergents and natural bodycare. Check for organic labels as (especially for cosmetics and toiletry products) there's increased green-washing in conventional product lines which also are available here. The DM own brands "DM Bio" (food) and "Alverde" (body care) are both good value and safe if your budget is tight or you're in a hurry.
What you won't find there are typical food souvenirs from Hungary: paprika, salami and wine. To buy these you need to find a proper biobolt or farmers' market, and these aren't as easy to find as one might expect.
A reliable source is BioABC, a small, yet well assorted organic supermarket in Belváros,
located between Astoria and Kálvin tér. They have only a small selection of wines (above the fridges), the salami is tucked away in a separate fridge in the right-most corner next to the shop's window front, and you can choose from several types of Hungarian paprika powder. Apart from this they stock local fresh produce, dairy products, sweets and cookies, preserves as well as natural body care, both of local origin as well as imported goods, in short all daily necessities. Bring your own containers for buying loose-weight dry goods.
A second option is the
Mennyország Szíve Bio Bolt a few steps from the Keleti Palyaudvar train station. Here you can also have a coffee, breakfast or vegan lunch just after arrival or before departing. However, the place is closed on weekends as well as public holidays which is why I cannot give an account of the quality of neither the food nor the range of goods sold here.
For high-end Hungarian wines pay a visit to
Cultivini Wine Cellars and Tasting
Belváros (5th district). The place is very upmarket, with the opportunity for wine tasting, and specializes in Hungarian wines. If you ask for organic and natural wines the sommeliers will competently advise and answer questions, but you have to be bold on your interest in organic wines as they will point you to conventionally produced wines in the course of the discussion if you aren't firm.
Books, coffee and tea
The classical bookstore you know from French movies does still exist -- and has adapted to modern times by becoming a cafe and co-working space
in Erzsébetváros: The English language bookstore cum cafe
Massolit does not only sell hand-picked English literature, a few tourist books, a small selection of stationary and fairly-traded coffee drinks or organic tea, but also offers quiches and cakes for both, a breakfast or the casual snack in between. While the milk for the coffee is organic (though not certified), the origin of the ingredients of the bakery items isn't easy to tell, for a good reason: Both, the bagels, cakes and quiches are hand-made by friends of the shop owner from the neighbourhood who earn an additional income this way. While some of them will certainly use eggs or milk from a properly working local farmer, conventional supermarket supply is also part of the game. If you want to stay here for work buy a co-working card, take a seat in the pleasant backyard or at some of the wooden tables inside. Water and wifi is for free but note that the place is closed on Mondays.
More to try
When I asked locals about where to buy organic fruit I was directed to the Fény utcai piac marketplace near Széll Kálmán tér.
Unfortunately, none of the market stalls showed signs of the key words "bio" or "öko", or of any organic labels or certificates. Since I don't speak Hungarian (and the command of foreign languages among the farmers was limited, too), the topic was too difficult to handle -- let me know if you're able to find out more. On weekends there are two dedicated organic or at least partially organic farmers' markets, pay a visit -- I'm glad if you'd share your experience with me.
References on the web do often exist longer than shops and venues themselves. The following places I found abandoned when I stepped by.
[Budapest, organic, wine, grocery, market, supermarkets, vegetarian, vegan, zero_waste, lunch, breakfast, coffee, tea, books]