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, supermarket, grocery, bicycle, hotel, accommodation, fair, gifts, shopping, bodycare, coffee, cafe, hemp]
Thursday, 20 June 2019
To no surprise Padua has a branch of the
artisanal ice-cream parlour chain
Grom: Located directly at Piazza dei Signori the main branch in the very city centre
serves natural ice-cream and milk shakes made from organic milk. There's a second branch in Via Roma, but since the chain stopped to advertise the use of organic ingredients I can no longer whole-heartedly recommend it.
But fortunately there's an alternative: About 50 meters to the right from the Grom at Piazza dei Signori you'll find the city's only fully organic ice-cream parlour,
Gelateria Gnam Gnam.
I was amazed how much delight one can add to natural artisanal ice-cream when restricting oneself to 100 percent organic ingredients. The Gnam Gnam fare is extremely delicate, with a lot of surprising flavours such as "cinnamon and ginger" or "pineapple and ginger", about one third of them vegan. The smallest serving with one flavour comes at 1.80 EUR, a small one with two flavours at 2.70 EUR, three flavours at 3.60, and each additional one adds one EUR to your bill. For extra 60 or 80 cents you can choose the flavour of your wafer cone: plain of course, or perhaps ginger, cinnamon, liquorice...? The (vegan) slush goes here under the name Venetian ghiacciate, and can be had in eight different flavours, small, medium, and large (small for 2.70 EUR, medium for 3.80, large for 5.20). My coffee ghiacciate was a deliciously melting dream, ways better than the extremely tasty one I had a couple of years ago at a Grom branch in Florence. Apart from this you can have a freshly pressed fruit juice or a chocolate-coated ghiacciolo (iced lolly).
If you find it difficult to part buy a package of organic meringues or a small glass of the organic spices they use (like cinnamon, liquorice, curcuma or ginger) for you or as a small gift.
Just for the records: Directly opposite Gelateria Gnam Gnam you'll find yet another ice-cream parlour focussing on all natural ice-cream: The Al Bancale at Piazza dei
Signori, 2 uses Galatea products to make their ice-cream, a brand that also offers an organic product line. However, no organic ice-cream here.
For a change you may also try ICream.it north of Prato della Valle. Their ice-cream is hidden in locked containers instead of openly presented, an important sign for high quality ingredients and no fuzz processing. Flavouring ingredients like basil or matcha often are organic and play the most important part in extremely smooth non-diary ice-creams (I had an intense yet delicate lemon-basil which unfortunately isn't always available). The milk used in the non-vegan flavours is not organic, but feel free to enquire about the origin of the ingredients: When I was there the staff was both friendly and knowlegeable. In 2018 a single scoop went for 2 EUR, and I did not have the time to check whether the place still exists in 2019. Let me know if you do.
[Padua, Padova, biologico, organic, vegan, ice-cream, gifts]
Friday, 07 June 2019
Bavarian opening hour regulations are far from liberal, hence your shopping options on Sundays and after 8 pm are limited to, uhmmm, petrol stations, more or less. Not the kind of place you'll expect to find organic food, toiletries or other necessities in eco-conscious quality.
But the times, they are changing, and for the organic Munich traveller or inhabitant, there's no reason to despair anymore. Your best bet are railway stations, namely Hauptbahnhof (main station) and Ostbahnhof.
On Hauptbahnhof enter the basement from Elisenhof in Western direction, following the S-Bahn signs (if you come from the trains head straight ahead to the Eastern exit to enter the basement). Opposite the entry to S-Bahn (urban trains) you'll find Biokultur, a full-fledged organic supermarket. It's you're only choice for fresh organic fruit and veges on Sundays and offers everything you'll expect from a full retailer (including wine, household cleaning items, toiletries, ...) as well as a pleasant shopping atmosphere. It keeps open daily until 9pm.
Next to it you find a branch of the local organic Hofpfisterei bakery chain. As all of their branches it also stocks a small range of organic drinks, dry and dairy products as well as organic cold cuts.
Unfortunately the Hofpfisterei branch at Ostbahnhof train station does no longer keep open on Sunday mornings, but a five minutes brisk walk from the station you'll find one of those family-owned bakeries that are becoming so rare these days. Leave the station at Orleansplatz exit, cross the square and follow the tram tracks along Wörthstraße. At the end of Bordeauxplatz square, corner Metzstraße, you'll find Cafe Reichshof run by the Neulinger family, a lovely coffeehouse cum pastry shop. Treat yourself with their delicious organic cakes, icecream or a savory organic snack like the traditional Bavarian Weißwurst (sausage) breakfast. If you don't feel intrigued to stay shop from a huge range of organic bread, rolls, and cakes. You can also buy a small selection of prepackaged cheese and meat cuts, butter, milk and jams from the fridge opposite the coffee machine.
Everything you need for a sumptious breakfast or cold snack (except fresh fruit and veges) can be bought from Fritz Mühlenbäckerei near Rosenheimer Platz. Between 1987 and 2010 this cosy artisanal baker's shop was the headquarter of one of Munich's eldest organic bakeries. Now the scent of warm bread fresh from the oven is gone -- all the production takes place in modern facilities in the outskirts of Aying. The shop however is still here and open on Sunday mornings, including a small grocery section equipped with a large fridge.
Back at Ostbahnhof trainstation, directly at the southern exit of the U-Bahn station into the Ostbahnhof building you'll find the place that will save your life after 8pm: This branch of the DM-Drogeriemarkt chain does not only stock the usual excellent range of natural bodycare, organic dry products, vegan alternatives and eco-friendly household helpers, but boosts a capable selection of dairy products, eggs and even a freezer stocked with organic pizza, berries, icecream, ... Unfortunately -- and unlike other DM branches -- organic choices and certified natural cosmetics aren't clearly marked on the shelves, so watch out for organic and natural cosmetics labels, and brands.
[Munich, organic, coffee, gifts, snacks, lunch, breakfast, bakeries, grocery, supermarkets, trainstation]
Wednesday, 01 May 2019
To buy organic products in Salzburg couldn't be easier: Even the random conventional supermarket has a sufficient selection of it, hence availability is not an issue as long as you are familiar with the EU and the Austrian organic logos (mainly the AMA organic seal, the Austria organic guarantee, and the Bio Austria certificate).
To shop for the arguably most famous Austrian organic brand head for busy Linzer Gasse pedestrian street: at Sonnentor you'll find teas, tisanes, dried herbs and spices, as well as a selection of sweets and natural body care -- the contemporary version of a medieval chemist's shop, with an abundance of products based on herbs grown in Austria itself.
The flagship store of the second famous brand, fair-trade confectioner Zotter unfortunately closed in February 2019, but sweet teeth will find the hand-made chocolate bars all over the city, among others at the Weltladen, a dedicated fair trade shop just a stone's throw away. Step by this nice place to shop for all kind of gifts -- both eatable, wearable, and decorative. There's a second "world shop" in the neighbourhood of Gneis with a focus on fairly traded natural and organic fashion.
If you feel like a coffee during your shopping spree in the Linzergasse area step by
Röstzimmer 15, a small scale coffee roaster's specialising in organic fairly traded traditionally grown
Ethiopian coffee dubbed
"Urkaffee". In addition they sell organic chocolates, tea, and honey from within the city boundaries. Careful with the bread: only a selection is organic. Unfortunately this cosy little shop is closed on Saturdays (and Sundays).
Once home to a vibrant shoe industry there's not much left of artisanal shoemakery in today's Austria. If it wasn't for the "Waldviertler" -- robust enduring footwear which you can buy at Gea alongside fashionable leather bags, sustainably made furniture with a sometimes anarchistic touch, bedding, eco fashion accessories, organic tea and tisanes, or gift items. The company is a major driving force within the Economy for the Common Good movement, and all products are made in sustainably driven, socially conscious workshops by artisans in Austria and its neighbouring countries.
For sustainably produced shoes of play- and colourful designs -- light city wear in contrast to the down-to-earth design inspired by the farm lands of the Waldviertel -- head to the Think! flagship store in the old town.
The founder of this brand also comes from an Austrian shoemaker family, and the company is headquartered in a small Upper Austrian village, Kopfing.
While Gea provides you with socks, gloves, scarfs, gloves and other textile accessories it's not a clothes boutique. For eco fashion you may try Bella Boutique in Linzer Gasse, but check the labels carefully as its entrance area shows off tourist rip-off like cheap Chinese down jackets made from 100% plastic materials. The shop was formerly located in Wolf-Dietrich-Straße, an address you still may come across.
If you love hemp and other re-discovered plant-based fibres head for Eberlin-Frenkenberger Naturmode in Dreifaltigkeitsgasse, a nice fashion boutique with a classical approach.
[Salzburg, organic, fair, coffee, tea, gifts, spices, fashion, shoes, shopping]
Monday, 18 March 2019
Dresden's Wilhelminian neighbourhood of Neustadt is dominated by independent shops and venues, many of them run by female entrepreneurs as recently documented by an art project of local photographer Christine Starke. So it comes as little surprise that it is here where you have the best chance to discover a lot of gems, driven in accordance with the personal principles of the shop keeper which often include social and environmental aspects. Keep your eyes open, and you will discover a lot more than I have to suggest here.
Herbalists and beauty
The old town does not have much to offer in terms of independent and surprising shops, and the Altmarkt-Galerie mall is as boring as these shopping centres usually are. A notable exception is the Sonnentor shop directly located at the mall's entrance at Postplatz, next to the tram-stop at Wallstraße. Franchises of this Austrian producer of organic and fairly traded herbs, teas, condiments, bodycare products and spices are usually located in malls or main shopping areas, neatly designed heavens offering products that are good for both, you, and the farmers and producers involved when you're in the mood for shopping.
If you're on the outlook for herbs, remedies, bodycare and food items based on ingredients described by medieval healer nun Hildegard of Bingen pay a visit to the Marone herbalist shop on Bautzner Landstraße directly located at the east-bound tram stop Pulsnitzer Straße. Not all of the products on sale (which among others include chestnut products and a small selection of biodynamic wine) in this small specialist shop are certified organic though.
When entering the quieter parts of the neighbourhood and head for Martin Luther church stop by a tiny herbalist shop dubbed
Un-kraut ("weeds") directly opposite the organic cafe Kuchenglocke. Even when open the shop easily goes unnoticed, and its interior does not show all the herbal treasures hidden in the backoffice. Ask for any herb or spice, and the knowledgeable shop keeper will truly find it for you, in organic quality if possible.
She will also happily answer all the questions you might have concerning the use of herbs.
On display are an assortment of organic spices and tisanes, essential oils as well as some gift items. Although the regular opening hours are restricted to
weekdays you might find the place open on Saturdays, occasionally.
Leaving the church park in western direction natural and organic bodycare products can be found at the
Touch of Nature beauty parlour cum shop in Böhmische Straße east of Görlitzer Straße. Note that also this shop is
closed on weekends.
For Indian-style and ayurvedic tea, chai mixtures or herbal teas head for the Indian Shop next to the organic fashion boutique Populi described further down. Unfortunately this owner-driven Indian convenience store isn't generally organic.
Just opposite Touch of Nature there's a second hand bicycle shop cum workshop, Elbcycles, where you can buy a used or recycled bike if you're staying longer, or get your own one fixed.
Heading further west cross Görlitzer Straße and follow Böhmische Straße until it ends at Alaunstraße. A
luminous blue wall indicates the location of the Geldschneider & Co. steam-punk workshop. Among others you will find beautiful jewellery made from recycled parts of abandoned analog wrist watches. The place has somewhat erratic opening hours, so step by when nearby (if you need to plan ahead: Saturdays seem a safe bet). If closed during regular German shop opening hours you may call the phone number given on the entrance door.
As in many other German cities the first address for colourful gifts as well as organic sweets, spices and condiments are fair-trade shops founded as grassroots activities by Christian parish members in accordance with the conciliar process of mutual commitment (covenant) to justice, peace and the integrity of creation (JPIC). As the host for pioneering regional ecumenical plenums in 1989 and 1990 the city of Dresden has been playing an important role in this process. The spirit of this movement lives on in local fair trade initiatives like Quilombo which for almost 25 years had run a fair-trade shop in the entrance area of Dreikönigskirche in Hauptstraße which played host to the first democratically elected local parliament in Saxony after East Germany's peaceful implosion in 1989. Today the initiative still has a shop in the neighbourhood of Löbtau while their former place in the "Haus der Kirche" ("house of the church") has been converted into fair-trade
Sharing their roots with the Quilombo NGO the team of
Cafe Aha opposite Kreuzkirche runs a fair-trade shop in the heart of the city. It is located in the basement of the cafe and offers an impressive selection of fairly-traded gifts, body care and dry goods. This initiative also runs a fair-trade ...
... boutique, Aha Naturtextilien, on Hauptstraße, offering a great selection of fairly traded fashion made from natural materials. Here you will also find a good selection of stationary, jewellery, eatable fair-trade goods and more. By the way: the name "Aha" is an abbreviation for "trade/act differently" ("anders handeln" in German), and implies a huge effort in not only selling fairly traded goods but offering fair conditions to their own employees.
Another centrally located fair-trade shop specializing in fashion and household accessories as well as coffee and chocolates is Contigo near the central train station.
For more ethically produced and sustainable cocooning items visit Tranquillo, a likewise colourful fashion-and-things boutique cum fashion label in the Neustadt neighbourhood, at the crossroad Louisenstraße/Rothenburger Straße. They produce their own women fashion entirely made from organic textiles focussing on basic colours -- if you like Aha Naturtextilien don't miss this one. There's also an outlet in Louisenstraße where you can find bargain buys and (even further west, behind the Äußere Neustadt) a sustainable furniture store which opens on Fridays and Saturdays only.
Dresden's first fashion boutique exclusively selling fairly produced clothing from fairly traded, organically grown materials is dubbed
can be found at the Western end of Louisenstraße, just before you reach the tram tracks of Königsbrücker Landstraße.
Both, streetware, denim and designer labels can be found here, for men and women. The interior of the shop is to a great deal made from upcycled furniture.
The southern part of Alaunstraße boosts of independent, owner-driven fashion boutiques, mirroring the ethical believes of the women who run them. Many of them prefer natural materials and production in Europe, but since Baum&Wolle shut down there's none left exclusively selling fashion made of organic materials. Invito has a notable choice of organic women fashion -- have a look inside since the shop window front is rather small.
Students and nerds find fairly traded organic cotton t-shirts and sweaters with unique scientific prints at Unipolar, and everyone else organic streetware for both, men and women, aside fairly traded and sustainably produced accessories and kitchen items. This small, Dresden-based fashion label is the brain-child of a former physics student, and has two outlets (in addition to the on-line shop). The original store is located between the Bahnhof Mitte train station and the "Carl Maria von Weber" College of Music, next to the VG warehouse with its well-assorted organic fashion section upstairs. The second Unipolar shop is located in the Neustadt neighbourhood and can easily be found by spotting a bath tub opposite a tram stop in Rothenburger Straße. Note that both Unipolar stores are closed on Mondays.
Ever fancied a nice custom-tailored dress, blouse, skirt or shirt made from natural materials? On Bautzner Straße at tram stop Pulsnitzer Str. gentlemen's tailor Hüpenthal and ladies' tailor Naumann share a shop formerly known as "Mein schönes Kleid" where they sew pret-a-porter items as well as custom orders from linen, silk, cotton and wool, both evening and casual dresses.
Some of the linen is even woven in the greater vicinity of Dresden, in the region of Niederlausitz near the border to Poland.
If you take the opportunity to hear a classical concert in Dresden chances are high to meet musicians wearing shirts by Herr Hüpenthal which, although custom-made are recognisable by their unique signature collars. Prices for men shirts start approximately at well invested 175 EUR, and cards are not accepted. The opening hours listed below usually apply but since the shop also serves as workshop you may be lucky enough to find one of the tailors at work on Mondays and Saturday afternoons, too.
Babies and toddlers
If you have a crush on individually made upcycled fashion accessories pay a visit to Ex Animo at Martin-Luther-Platz. The shop specializes in clothes and accessories for babies, toddlers and younger children, but you will find nice gifts for grown-ups (like cigarette wallets), too. Also this shop is closed on Mondays.
Those on the look-out for beautiful, not overly sweet organic fashion for toddlers and smaller children should step by Elvida in Louisenstraße approximately opposite Planwirtschaft pub and cafe. There you'll find the small flagship store of a Dresden-based sustainable kids fashion label. Unfortunately it currently has quite restricted opening hours: Due to illness the shop may or may not be open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10am, so make sure you are in the vicinity anyway.
Sustainable toys can be found further west at LouisdoOr, just opposite of Populi. This charming, owner-run shop also sells organic clothing for babies and toddlers. The somewhat erratic opening hours allow the owner to take out her dog, so when the door is closed during regular working hours take a look at the shops nearby and come back a little later.
Sustainably produced bare foot shoes made from recycled materials and vegetable tanned leather in Portugal can be found at the Vivobarefoot concept store on Hauptstraße, opposite Aha Naturtextilien. The Freiburg-based label also offers vegan shoes, and the shop stocks stylish, light-weight footwear for both, women, men, and children.
Ceased to exist
The following places shut down, so don't be mislead when you find references to them on the web:
[Dresden, Neustadt, shopping, organic, fair, fashion, shoes, spices, tea, herbs, delicatessen, gifts, upcycling, steampunk, bodycare, furniture, household, children, toys, Indian]