Sunday, 18 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 sae 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]
Saturday, 10 November 2018
For being home to so many sustainable and organic shopping opportunities Heidelberg has surprisingly few places serving organic food. The two I found are both very well suited for both, vegetarians and vegans, and essentially self-service, but I wasn't able to spot a single proper dinner restaurant where you're actually waited.
Both, lunch, snacks, coffee and dinner can be had at
red buffet restaurant, next to the Alnatura organic supermarket on the premises of a former swimming pool opposite the Schwanenteich park. You can choose between two lunch dishes at a fixed price or serve yourself salads and warm one-pot dishes (all 100 percent and certified organic, vegetarian and often vegan) and pay by weight.
Order drinks (cold drinks, teas or Italian-style coffee drinks) and predominantly vegan cakes and dessert at the cash desk while you pay, take your tray and find yourself a seat. For being an vegan-award winning restaurant I found the food quite uninspiring, without accentuated flavours, just good ingredients cooked together. Even the perfectly looking vegan hazelnut-espresso cake I had was missing a distinctive coffee flavour -- good, but far from outstanding. Nevertheless the generally pleasant place was crowded (though not unpleasantly), perhaps due to missing alternatives. It's the only evening-open option for eating out, but closed on Sundays. You may also buy food to take with you.
For lunch (though not on Sundays) there's another alternative on the opposite shore of the Neckar river, a few steps North of Theodor-Heuss bridge: The
Fein Food eatery serves smoothies, oriental and ayurveda-inspired vegetarian, vegan and omnivore stews, pot-dishes, salads and wraps, though probably not a 100 percent organic.
The city of Heidelberg still lists the following place in its latest guide to organic and local food, but the place unfortunately closed two years ago:
[Heidelberg, organic, lunch, coffee, cafe, eatery, vegan, vegetarian, restaurant]
Wednesday, 07 November 2018
If you still want to have an organic ice-cream on the go on a weekday in 2018, hurry up! The GelaTo Go on Hauptstraße pedestrian street in the old town is going to shut down for the winter on the 11th of November, to re-open February, 17th 2019. Despite its mock-English name it's a true Italian ice-cream parlour, also serving organic coffee drinks with or without cow milk or soy drink. About half of their ice-cream types are fully organic, among them a delicate after eight and a matcha green tea variety alongside more ordinary flavours. All scoops, organic and conventional, come at 1.30 EUR the scoop, both here and in the second branch in the Bahnstadt neighbourhood South of the main train station.
For German ice-cream head for the fully organic Bioeismanufaktur in the Weststadt. During the winter monthes they are supposed to keep open on Sunday afternoons when bakery and confectioner's courses are held on the premises, too.
[Heidelberg, organic, ice-cream, cafe, coffee]
Tuesday, 30 October 2018
The impression may be due to my lack of command of the Hungarian language, but most places in Budapest advertising the use of organic produce surely aim at the affluent tourist -- carefully designed places offering sophisticated Hungarian kitchen, vegan food or the ubiquitous expensive Italian coffee machine and hand-made organic sandwiches and cakes. What they all have in common: gorgeous food, a relaxed and (family-) friendly atmosphere and the complete absence of red-nosed binge-drinking tourists.
To dine in style head for the golden-blue shimmering premises of Hilda Food and Mood in Lipótváros
serving carefully modernized standards of the Hungarian farmers' kitchen like the
goulash soup or
chicken paprikash with dumplings as well as advanced sandwiches or salads. The focus here clearly is on organic meat from responsibly raised animals, grilled to the point, but vegetarians are catered for with equal love, with often organic greens, crisp or perfectly done. There's also a selection of organic soft drinks and wines.
Unfortunately the restaurant is closed on Sunday evenings but you may also come here for breakfast, brunch or lunch, and if only to marvel at the grand-hotel flair, the mosaic walls, and the dusky pink-golden restrooms.
Just a few corners in Eastern direction you'll find Naspolya Nassolda, a light and clean cafe serving raw, vegan, gluten-free sweets, savoury snacks, healthy drinks and coffee, using a great deal organic ingredients. Prepackaged wafers and cookies from the shop can also be bought from the BioABC supermarket.
If you feel for a more lively coffee house atmosphere find your way to the Vörösmarty utca metro station in Terezváros and enter a stunning neo-renaissance building of the World Heritage Site of Andrassy avenue to find the Ecocafe.
This cafe could be transfered to any other Western metropolis, and you wouldn't notice -- the Italian-style coffee drinks, the wooden tables, the hand-made croissants and sandwiches, the freshly pressed smoothies and small glass bottles with juice, the clean and understated eco design, the families, the students and the digital nomads, a welcoming, yet non-intrusive atmosphere -- it's all here, and you'll feel at home at once.
And the best of it all: The place keeps open on national public holidays like St. Stephen's day when everything else (including the main post office within Keleti pu.) is closed.
Right in the vicinity of Keleti station you may check out the Mennyország Szíve Bio Bolt for lunch or snacks, or -- hopefully soon again -- the
Házikó Bisztro ("farm bistro") which currently is closed. Both are closed on weekends and public holidays. The Házikó has a second branch in Buda on the premises of the socially and environmentally responsible MagNet bank. Here you can have not only a coffee, but also lunch, snacks or an early dinner made from predominantly organic local produce according to season.
More to try
During my research I also found the following places that seemed likely to (at least partially) serve organic food and drinks, but I did not had the time to try them myself. If you do so let me know whether they are worth to be listed here!
[Budapest, organic, lunch, dinner, coffee, restaurant, cafe, eatery, vegan]
Friday, 21 September 2018
Astonishingly many of the artisanal ice-cream parlours in town present their products in the hygienically correct way for the storage of unadultered natural ice-cream, and the city seems to be a heaven for vegan ice-cream lovers. However, and this is the bad news, there seems to be no such thing as fully (bio-)organic ice-cream. But there are places using organic milk.
One of them is a major tourist spot next to Szent István (St. Stephen's) cathedral. With the impressive queue in front of
Gelarto Rosa on hot summer days there's often no need to watch out for the art nouveau-styled rose sign priding the entrance (see image) -- you simply can't miss the place. All dairy flavours here are made from organic milk, and there are fruity, vegan flavours, too, though without the promise on the use of organic fruit. Your dish of ice-cream is skillfully made into a rose which helps justifying the hefty price:
A small rose made of two flavours comes at 700 Ft., the medium one with three flavours at 800 Ft., and a large rose with four flavours and three rows of petals at 900 Ft.
If you don't insist on dairy ice-cream you may skip the queue and walk around the corner along Szent István tér. Only a fews steps away you'll find a second branch dubbed
Gelarto Rosa Bistro -- vegan hedonism. It is in fact a small bistro with outdoor seating serving vegan bowls, sandwiches and desserts predominantly made from organically produced (though not necessarily certified) ingredients from local farmers as well as Italian-style coffee. On summer days however you will rarely notice the food since the focus is on ice-cream roses. As in the older shop around the corner, first queue at the cash counter, specify the size of your ice-cream and pay upfront, then move on to the ice-cream desk and order the flavours. Here you'll find predominantly vegan sorbets, although you might spot one, at maximum two dairy flavours, too, and the queue is significantly shorter than the one around the corner. With food and coffee orders you will be served (after having paid at the cash desk) at your table.
For a much less touristy place head for the Buda side of the Danube river:
Kedves Krém ("lovable cream") in
Víziváros, a few corners from Széll Kálmán tér is a lovely neighbourhood ice-cream parlour cum cafe most frequented by locals.
The creamy, all-natural dairy ice-cream here comes at 270 Ft. the scoop. With clearly accentuated flavours and stored in deep, steel-covered containers used by only the most serious artisanal ice-cream makers this is definitely the best ice-cream I had in Budapest. Unfortunately I couldn't get a confirmation for whether all ingredients were organic, most likely most of them, first of all milk and cream are sourced from local farms working according to organic principles. If you speak Hungarian and are able to inquire in depth, let me know about it.
[Budapest, organic, vegan, ice-cream, cafe, eatery, coffee, snacks, lunch]