Monday, 30 May 2022
Window shopping in Esslingen's city center is fun – due to an abundance of lovingly curated boutiques and owner-run specialist shops. However, during off-work hours, the nice pedestrian areas and small streets seem almost deserted: Many of these shops do not have employees and, consequently close at 6 pm, many also for a lunch break. However, if you come here during work hours or on a Saturday morning til early afternoon, you will find a lot of assorted goods and handicraft that anonymous malls and stream-lined shopping districts wouldn't care to offer.
Take the Greek specialist shop in the Küferstraße shopping street, opened in autumn 2021 during the covid-19 pandemics:
Odysée Feinkost attracted my attention by presenting an assortment of organic pre-packaged snacks in its shop window. The day after I came around and found an owner who was both, knowlegeable about his goods and which of them were organic – and glad to have a chat. There are not enough organic preserves, herbs, wines, oils and dry food to satisfy all needs, so better come here for inspiration rather than with a fixed shopping list.
For fairly traded exotic dry food, spices and beverages walk a few steps to the Weltladen (almost) next door which also has a decent assortment of loose-weight food and sweets.
Opposite the fair-trade shop you'll find a real gem:
Die rote Zora is not just a
fair and slow fashion boutique, it's a small tailor start-up: The three young women working in the workshop in the back of the shop design and make the original and robust clothes that you can buy here or via their webshop. The feel of the garments and the quality of the seems should be sufficient to cure you from cheap fast fashion. The prices are really fair, too: good to make a living and absolutely affordable given the almost timeless, yet lively (to some probably: naughty) designs, repairability and longevity. For an air of Berlin in Swabia, I highly recommend both, the shop and the label, dubbed after the militant West-German feminist group – or their fictional name-giving character, a female leader of a gang of young orphans fighting injustice.
Interestingly, Esslingen has more than one local fashion designer cum tailor-shop cum fashion boutique:
own label Aleksarah also focusses on natural and sustainable materials, with flowing and colourful, but more conventional designs. Also this shop is a female enterprise, but unlike the Zoras, offers a small selection of other fashion labels aside their own designs. Needless to say that all clothes will be adapted to your fit if necessary.
[Esslingen, organic, fair, fashion, spices, deli, gifts, shopping, wine, Greek]
Monday, 04 April 2022
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.
Starting in 2022, the other Neulinger branches in Neuhausen, the meat-packing district of Ludwigsvorstadt and the wholesale market area in Sendling have been keeping open on Sundays and public holidays, too, though some only for breakfast.
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.
About ten years after the Fritz bakery moved their bakery from the Haidhausen backyard to Aying the bakers came back to town with a bread bakery in Glockenbachviertel. The former cafe re-opened in June 2020 – buy your daily artisanal bread and watch the bakers at work.
If you happen to be in Grünwald on a Sunday morning (or another day of the week during working hours) make sure to buy the best German sourdough bread in the entire Munich area from Lokalbäckerei Brotzeit. Their bread workshop is located on the premises of the Alter Wirt hotel, with a separate entrance and a small lunch cum cafe counter where you can choose a roll and from a range of all organic spreads, coldmeat, cheeses and more to get your customised sandwich.
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.
A few steps from the urban train stop Johanneskirchen, directly located at the bus stop "Johanneskirchen Bhf" there's an 24x7 open vending machine selling Bavarian produce: Not everything from the so-called Regiomat is organic, but you can buy organic eggs, UHT milk, cheese, chocolate pudding, cream and ready-made tomato sauce.
By the summer 2020 the concept of vending machines for products of smaller local farms finally had made it into Munich town, too: The Erntebox vending machines offer eggs and chicken meat, sausages, cheese, pasta and fruit jam, not everything organic, but most likely from farmers around Munich with a focus on sustainability. There's one at the Grünspitz in Giesing, a hotspot for urban agricultural and greening projects, and another at busy Berg-am-Laim-Straße in the Eastern neighbourhood of Baumkirchen. To find the latter isn't easy: Follow the shop windows of the (conventional) Aumüller bakery in in city (Western) direction and stop when the house turns at an angle. Unfortunately the number of certified organic products has been decreasing here: When I re-checked in April 2022, the organic sausages were gone, and from the initially good selection of organic cheeses there was just one type left.
[Munich, Gruenwald, Johanneskirchen, Haidhausen, Sendling, organic, coffee, gifts, snacks, lunch, breakfast, bakeries, grocery, supermarkets, trainstation, Regiomat, covid, corona]
Thursday, 28 October 2021
Nuremberg has a lot of independent small shops worth visiting in the main pedestrian area of the city centre (as long as you avoid the lanes occupied by global chains), and quite a number of them care about sustainability, fairness and the environment in some way or the other. The following shops except one are all located within walking distance within the city walls, and the list is totally biased, doing injustice to shops I simply did not recognise.
Drawing from Nuremberg's history as an important medieval trade centre on the crossroad of horizontal and vertical trade routes is the
Wurzelsepp herbalist shop.
In fact the
shop was established in 1933, and you may question whether this should be positively connoted advertisement. I at least would have preferred to find a discussion of the shop's history in the Third Reich on their website. It's missing, so all you are left with is this beautiful
shop, a realm of spices, teas, dried herbs, natural body care and perfumes, real frankincense, hand-made sweets, and more. Roughly estimated a quarter of it is organic, so check for labels or ask the helpful staff.
The abundance of exotic spices from the spice route traders and honey from the nearby forests caused the rise of the profession of the
honey cake bakers ("Lebküchner") in the medievals. So even though Pfefferkuchen or Lebkuchen are a Christmas tradition you probably do not want to leave Nuremberg without locally produced gingerbreads. From end of October through December they are easy to find in every
organic grocery, but off-season your best bet is the
gingerbread shop Wicklein
offers a small selection of
organic varieties. They can be distinguished by their packaging with a fir green "bio" label. Unfortunately none of the tempting gingerbreads by the piece are organic.
Both shops are directly located on Hauptmarkt and keep open on Sundays during Christkindlesmarkt advent market.
Nuremberg proudly presents itself as a Fairtrade Town, and unlike in other cities fair trade shops can be found in the middle of the urban city centre. They are run by volunteers from church parishes, and traditionally offer a selection of sweets, herbs, spices, tea and coffee, dry goods, jewellery, fashion items, body care, stationary, home textiles, candles and other colourful gifts. Eatable items are predominantly organic, gifts and household items often made from recycled materials. Fresh food is not available, though both of the following shops sell bananas.
Lorenzer Laden (often referred to by its abbreviated form, Lola) is an intimate place. Tucked away in a small alleyway East of Lorenzer Kirche it is totally secular in its presentation, and although its product range overlaps to some extend with that of Fenster zur Welt, you will find a lot of things only in this shop. The Lola shop is also a hub for customers of a Community supported organic farm.
Probably easier to find is
Fenster zur Welt ("Window to the World") near Hallplatz. It's also the bigger one of the two, and consequently offers a bigger selection. They do not hide the fact that they are a parish enterprise but there's definitely no proselytisation ongoing.
More sweets, wines, coffee and gifts
The cosy confectioner's shop Chocolat close to Weißer Turm is a paradise for chocolat lovers. They offer a huge range of high quality chocolates of international provenience, often fairly traded, and to a noteworthy part organic. Check for labelling or ask the friendly ladies behind the bar. You can also treat yourself with a hot chocolate, though it's not organic.
The entrance is facing Hutergasse, so do not be fooled by the address.
Another of the many small individual shops in the old town is Die Maulbeere, a florist's cum coffee cum sweets shop cum cafe.
Once a start-up, nowadays a veritable organic specialist's chain, MyMüsli has a store near Hauptmarkt where you can buy dozens of cereals and porridges, and of late tea and coffee. They also offer free wifi.
Regional food specialities, wines, condiments and more, all produced by small-scale farms and artisanal manufacturers can be found at
delikatEssen at the Weinmarkt around St. Sebald church, another small owner-run delicatessen. If you insist on organic certifications you have to select carefully, as seems still to be the norm for this type of shop. Note that it is closed on Mondays.
If you fancy wine and a bicycle ride to the North-Eastern edge of town step by Die Weinhalle near Nordostparkt which I personally have not visited yet -- it was recommended by a friend. They specialize in natural wines, and a good selection of organic ones are among them. Alongside you can choose from a selection of delicatessen -- Italian antipasti, coffee, chocolates, etc., among them many organic ones. In the webshop you'll find organic products with a simple search for the "bio" keyword.
If you happen to be in Nuremberg in December, don't miss the
annual sustainable winter market Winterkiosk at the Kulturwerkstatt auf AEG cultural centre near the tube stop Eberhardshof. It's always happening on a weekend, in 2021 on the 4th and 5th of December.
Stroll around and let you inspire from art and handicraft. Most eatable and drinkable items are organic.
The market charges a small entrance fee of 5 EUR for adults. Note that in 2021 a covid-19 vaccine certificate is mandatory.
If you wonder how a luxury organic department store looks like visit Grüne Erde at Hallplatz, a branch of a small Austrian chain. Traditionally they sell fairly produced furniture, bedding, cushions, home textiles, bathroom items and interior design stuff, all made from sustainably sourced natural and often organic materials. It would not be a department store if it did not offer luxury organic bodycare, candles, chocolates, sweets, dry goods and delicatessen as well as a small selection of liquors. Recently they added fashion basics like t-shirts to their sales mix. A pleasantly silent and nicely smelling oasis after a busy day -- until it comes to payment. They will ask you for your name and address to send you their catalogue and track your purchase, so be polite and tell them you do not want to be neither registered nor tracked (unless you really want it). Usually the shop assistants will comply without further questions, so don't feel tricked into giving details (or be prepared to give false information).
Ceased to exist
The following places shut down and were replaced by other, not organic ones. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:
- Frankenfein, Königsstr. 78 (partially organic farmer's shop cum delicatessen)
[Nuremberg, organic, fair, fashion, spices, deli, gifts, shopping, bodycare, confectioners]
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]