Bratwurst, Lunch and Dinner – Three Things To Do In Berlin

Having just returned from a happy five days in Berlin, where I was giving a lecture at the glorious Tentstaion, I though it only right to give a few Hungry Cyclist Top Tips for things to do in Berlin. I had no expectations about the old German capital and all I can say after five days in the city is I didn't want to leave. Full of bicycles and beautifully people this is one of the finest cities I have en lucky enough to visit and here are three things you mustn't leave the city without seeing.  "Ich bin ein Berliner"

1 .Rembetis Bike Shop & Bonanza Coffee Heroes

As a fiend for all things cycling and good coffee, I have often dreamed about setting up a small coffee shop that I would jam-pack with old bicycles, play my own music and make simple dishes found from my travels around the world. Perhaps I would call it The Hungry Cyclist Café? 

Dreams, dreams dreams…

Well in the back streets of Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin they get very close to realizing my fantasy. Bonanza Coffee Heroes is a tidy little café that makes the best coffee in the city, and next door is a bicycle shop so beautiful, even a meat-faced petrol head like Jermey Clarkson would be turned onto the cahrmed pedal powered transport.

The craze for drinking really good coffee (no Starbucks does not count) is now a worldwide movement. There is plenty of good coffee in Berlin, and boy do Berliners drink the stuff, but the people behind Bonanza are perhaps the first to get behind the craze for truly exceptional coffee in the city/

Run by two passionate 'javaholics' in Prenzlauer Berg, the team at Bonanza run their small cafe with passion. Coffee in a café like this is treated like fine wine and everything is done to ensure your coffee is nothing shot of perfection. White walls, chrome fittings, complicated looking gadgets, sacks of beans and glass vessels make this café look more like a scientist’s laboratory than a comfortable coffee shop. But this look has not come about by accident.

It is clear that for The Bonanza Coffee Heroes making a good coffee is nothing short of science.
Their beans are sourced from specialty coffee producers (SCAA); They are roasted on site to perfection and their Synesso Cyncra machine is famed for being über-particular and thermally sensitive, ensuring that the coffee in Bonanza unbeatable!

So you’ve had your specialIst caffeine hit and your sleep addled brain is just starting to buzz into life. Ideas are being formulated, possibilities realized, dreams linked together and now it's time to go next door.

Rembetis
The Rembetis bike shop is nothing short of heaven with every possible space is taken up by the most beautiful bicycles I have ever seen. There is no room for space-aged, carbon-fibre, mass- produced nonsense here. These bikes date from the days when cycle racing really was the most glamour sport on the planet. Machines from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s 50’ 60’ and 70’s sit side by side with pride. There are no prices, no tills and no brand adverts in this shop and ask the clearly passionate proprietor for a price and he will tell you that he doesn't sell his bikes to anyone.

What?

He explains that when he needs to pay the bills he will sell a bike, but not anyone. He needs to know you. He needs to know that one of his beloved machines is going to be treated with the respect it deserves. This shop is more a shrine to one man's passion, more a museum than a place of business and that is what makes this unparalleled collection of bikes so special. It is the culmination of ones man's, passion time and love and shouldn't every business be like that?

Buffed leather saddles fill windows with polished steel cranks, bells glisten in the sun light next to chains and leather shoes and the light smell of oil automatically transport you to another era. Customers all wonder about in silence totally in ore of the works of art and mechanical perfection hanging from the walls and neatly lined up on the floor. For anyone with half an interest in bikes this is what heaven looks like. This is the best bike shop in the world!

2. Ride the Runways at Berlins TempleHoh Airport

Flying used to be a glamorous affair. Exciting, an aspiration, a real treat. But today, with the evils of Ryan Air and other such short-haulers ruling the skies, the charm has been sucked out of air-travel faster than the funny blue liquid in the cabin toilets.

Flying used to be the dream of every young boy. Pilots were gentlemen in sharp suits, hostesses were goddesses in sharp suits and airports were buildings as grand and inspiring as any Cathedral.  And as airports go, Berlins’ Templhof was one of the greats! A Nazi-era marvel of modern architecture and engineering, Tempelhof was the biggest airport in Europe and featured am underground train and a restaurant for 3000 people.

Construction began in 1936 but due to the WW2 Hitler’s dream airport is still incomplete, and it doesn’t look like being finished any time soon. In the centre of the city it cant be expanded to accommodate the Jumbo Jets of the modern era and so the baggage carousels have been switched off.

But fear not! Instead of handing the runways over to greedy property developers, no doubt what would happen here in the UK, Berliners have saved their beloved air-field and it is now a playground for all to enjoy.  This once great airport  is now a play ground where anyone can run up the runways, reach for the skies with a kite and of course ride your bike.

So if like me you find yourself dreading your return flight home, hire a bicycle and head to the Templehof Airfield. Marvel at is glorious terminal building and then taxi yourself onto the main runway, fire up your engines reach for the sky…

Doors To Manual!

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3. Wurst 36

If like me you spend the best part of the day making aeroplane noises and pedalling like a mad person on the runways of the Templhof Airfield, come 4pm you will find yourself hungry and in Berlin that means its time for a wurst!

Germany is not famous for her food but one thing they get spot on are wurst (sausages). Not dissimilar to the humble English sausage the meat inside a worst is ground finely to create a succulent rubbery texture that is packed with flavour and in my opinion superior to the Uk snag.

Germans eat sausages as fast food, often with beer, sauerkraut and mustard but Curry-wurst is the iconic snack of Berlin. Nothing more than pan-fried pork sausage cut into thick slices, seasoned with lots of tomato ketchup and a little bit of curry powder it is thing of wonder. On almost every street corner there is a imbissbuden (snack stall) selling curry-wurst but for me the pick of the bunch is Curry 36.

A bustling sausage fest, what Curry 36 it lacks for in charm it more than makes up for in wurst and atmosphere and the perpetual que of hungry Berliners is testament to its quality and trip to Berlin is not complete without a curry wurst, so Schnell!

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This entry was posted on Friday, July 30th, 2010 at 09:36 and is filed under Cycle Touring, Cycle Trips, Travel Writing, Wheel of Approval, World Cycling, World Food. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed or trackback from your own site. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Comments

  1. louis keller,jr.

    Hello,
    Loved the article. I love and cycling. The photos of the German shop/museum made my mouth water. Next to the female form, there is only the bicycle for beauty.
    How do you pay or get sponsored for such dream trips?

  2. Did you get time to visit the curry-wurst museum? I’ve heard good reviews of it!

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