Four Hour Bike Tour in Berlin

Following on from last nights tour, I’m doing another one today. I didn’t have a heap of time to get coffee, and couldn’t get out to the few places I was recommend for best coffee in Berlin, so grabbed one from a small cafe under the rail station. Perfectly acceptable for a random coffee place on the go, a 6.5/10. At another place I grabbed what I could only describe a breakfast pretzel. Not salty and not as sweet as it looks. Rather delicious actually.

 

 

We all met at the same place as last night for the bike tour. I count 39 people waiting and I’m think OMG this is going to be terrible, the 25 in Copenhagen was ok but bordering on difficult. Double that is a busier city will be unmanageable. Thankfully we are split split into three groups. Daniel mentions on weekend they can have up to 200 booked in. These tours are popular.

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At the start we are told the TV tower was designed by Swedish engineers due to brain drain on the state at the time. Interestingly enough the shape whilst looking space age casts a shadow that looks like the Christian cross. This was was quite embarrisng for the East Germans as an atheist communist state. It was promoted as the Popes revenge in the West. All the bikes have individual names so its easy to remember which one is yours. I had a red one yesterday, so I picked a blue one today.

 

We rode over to the Opera house which was bombed twice. The Allies bombed it, Hitler fixed it at great cost even with scarce resources during the war. Once it was complete we bombed it again. The communists fixed it again but had no appreciation for musical acoustics and replaced it with a flat ceiling.

 

We also looked into Bebelplatz (the book burning square of the Nazis). There is an underground empty library to symbolise all the missing books

Onto Checkpoint Charlie. It’s very kitschy now. The traffic here was crazy, no lights or priority signs on a major intersection in a tourist heavy area. This is the only spot in Europe ive felt nervous riding a bike. Exasperating the traffic were hordes of Trabants being driven in convoys by tourists. Funny to look at but a pollution disaster when in numbers. When in Poland on the Communist tour I was In a single one and not driving. They are hard to drive even for people used to them, being a tourist driving one, navigating traffic in Berlin and trying to take selfies with phones is a disaster waiting to happen. Looking out for cyclists would be the last thing on their mind, hence my nervousness cycling anywhere near them. 

 

Here is an example of a convoy I’ve uploaded to YouTube.

From here we moved over to the Fuherbunker (Hitler’s underground lair). It is marked with a sign, but its just an insignificant car park. As I read elsewhere once its an historically significant site but not a culturally significant one so it only gets minimal attention.

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Brandenburg Gate was next, then the Jewish Memorial then into the Tiergarten.

 

The Jewish memorial is massive, I was shocked at how tall some of the concrete blocks are. there are apparently 2711 of them.

 

The Tiergarten is beautiful and massive. We had lunch here, I had a Bavarian Meatloaf slice on a bun. This is basically a square frankfurt sausage. Tastes way nicer than it looks. In the video below there are some shots of the Tiergarten. There were some very tame birds who would take the food off your plate if you left it for a few moments.

 

 

After lunch it was a trip over to the Reichstag and Museum island.

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And here is the video from the trip. What other music could I possibly have used other than 99 Luftballons ?

 

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Dinner and Tivoli

After cycling down to 108 and sampling the coffee, I noticed another large outdoor food market. This is something Copenhagen excels at is food markets. Apart from the cafe where I’ve had a coffee I have not set foot in a restaurant, it all been street/van/market food, and its all been amazing quality and delicious.

It’s not cheap though by any means, Copenhagen is living up to it’s expensive reputation. The sandwiches with soft drink have cost me around $23, and tonight’s dinner and lemonade cost me $32. This would be super expensive for a family of 4 or 5. Add in an ice cream after dinner and per person you won’t get much change out of $50 per person. And remember, this is food stall prices. Coffee that costs me $4 at home cost $8 here.

So after riding around a bit past the Opera house, I went back to the street food place and had a closer look

Some of the food options

I couldn’t go past the Singapore ribs with roti bread.

After devouring that, I rode back to the Tivoli gardens. Even though it’s not really my thing, you can’t come here and not go inside. Single entry to the gardens, no rides included, A$25. O-U-C-H. An unlimited ride pass will cost you another A$50. Individual rides are between $6 and $18 each. No rides for me….

The gardens are pretty. Worth A$25 for entry? Umm…..

Since this is my last night and I had some coins to get rid of, nothing better than ice cream on a warm night. I’ll be paying heavily for this food indulgence when I get home…

Here are some of the restaurant boards of your wondering what restaurant prices are like. All prices in Danish Kroner. A$1 = 4.72DKK at time of writing

Yes you read that right peeps, on this board below a serve of snitty is $42. Add a beer and you just dusted $56. Probably closer to $60 with the fees on exchange etc….

A Danish Danish in Danish

After deciding that I was just going to cycle around by myself today, after grabbing my coffee at Wecycle (which was excellent). I decided to cycle down to Christiana Freetown. Thankfully I got my coffee where I did, as whilst there were people about, not much was open and I seemed to arrive in the middle of a drug bust / sweep as there were cops everywhere. I’m gathering that a lot of the locals made themselves very scarce at this exact point. The literature on this place says to avoid taking photos as it makes the locals nervous, but given the “enhanced” police presence I snapped a few anyway as it was unlikely anyone would complain or try and stand out at this exact moment.

I spent about 10 minutes there before heading off, this place is probably more lively in the evening and when the boys in blue go home. If this little place had a king it would be Bob Marley. Overall I think Christiana Freetown was the least interesting most overhyped thing I’ve done in Copenhagen. I’m just not into this stuff.

I decided to head over to the old water storage cistern on Copenhagen thats been turned into an art display hall. It was about a 30min bike ride away, i could have gone a shorter route but I wanted to take the bike snake again.

And here is a video of the bike snake.

If you are wondering how I navigate around town on the bike, google maps on the phone in the basket. The spoken navigation makes it a breeze. I had a Danish person ask me for directions. They were amused to see an Australian riding in the back streets of Copenhagen.

The cistern is pretty cool, literally cool, about 10c cooler than outside. Its quite humid. The display was interesting, lots of reflective things, fire and balls gonging on metal bowls. Not sure the actual artistic intention but it was pretty cool none the less. The fire bit was interesting, the closer you got to it, the more it shot out flames. Of course geeky me was looking for all the fire safe mechanisms to see how it cut out to prevent someone roasting them selves, and sure enough there was a sensor that would cut it out instantly if you got too close. There were also fire blankets and extinguishers for that “one person” who would get a little toasty. The whole place was quite dark, the photos show it brighter than it was in reality.

The cistern is an old 19th century water storage area which was taken out of service in the 1930s and drained in the 1980s. It’s on a hill and they used to pump water into it. It’s under these beautiful gardens.

The actual display. In reality much darker than this

It was raining a little when I came out, so I decided to head down to Torvehallerne where I had lunch yesterday and get another Danish open sandwich. The queue was massive so I decided to grab a coffee at the “COFFE3 COLLECTIVE” again. Another awesome brew and I noticed its actually written up in my guide book as a recommend coffee place.

I couldn’t come to Denmark and *not* have a Danish pastry. I tried ordering my Danish Danish pastry in Danish “Jeg woud som et dansk wienerbrød tak”, however failed spectacularly as the sales person at the counter spoke to me in English as soon as I even tried. Interestingly enough Danish Pastries are not called a “Danish” here. They are Viennese Breads ! What ever it’s called, I called it delicious.

Wandered around for a while and the queue for the open sandwich (Smørrebrød) had died down so I ordered a roast beef one. It had roast beef, corn pickle, dried onion, pickles and onion. It was sensational, way better than the one yesterday which was chicken.

Some of the other mouth watering selections

The food being prepared

I rode round the neighbourhood a bit, it started raining again so decided to head back to the hotel for an hour or so until the rain is predicted to clear. Much cooler here today than it was yesterday.

Cycling in Copenhagen is easy. Interesting when turning left (the difficult turn, as riding on the right hand side) you never ever sit in the centre of the intersection, cyclists are expected to do hook turns just like you do in Melbourne to avoid trams

Even though I rode in Paris, on the road it was still a little hair raising when not on a bike lane, In Copenhagen it feels very safe. Here I am doing a left turn.

Once I’d had a break and the rain had died down, I went out to the Round Tower. Read about that adventure here

Wecycle Copenhagen

Wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do today, there are a few options, I’ve decided already that I love this city. I’d signed up for the bike share so thought about hiring a bike and cruising around

Those bikes worked out at $6 an hour, not outrageously expensive but I had to find a local docking station. I discovered the hotel has bike rental for 125DKK (about $26) and I have it till midnight.

I wanted to cycle over the famous “bike snake” so headed that way and thought I’d cruise towards Christiana, a cool hip neighbourhood in the city, and if it’s full of hipsters with the munchies it’s likely to do good coffee somewhere.

I didn’t even make it into the area when I went past Wecycle. A combination bike shop and cafe. In essence, my dream cafe. To top it off the coffee was awesome, 9/10

Here is the link to their website.

My ride for the day

Kitchenalia Café

Our day started early with a knock on the door from the apartment manager, she was here to try an fix the internet. It’s virtually unusable in this apartment, I’ve been relying on the SIM card I have in the phone. Thank goodness I have 15g of data, but it means uploading video from last nights ride is not an option.

I’m not really a fan of this part of Paris, it was a last minute compromise given what happened to the one we booked, but I can’t complain to hard, it’s still Paris and only a short ride on the metro from the really nice areas. It’s not that much better here than it is between Gare Du Nord and Gare du Est IMHO

I did grab a Starbucks first thing in case I had the same issue as yesterday, however I need not have worried as I found a rateable coffee (7/10) right near the kitchen shop we visited. This is *the* store to visit in Paris if you are into cooking utensils. After we had looked and shopped here we grabbed coffee next door

Here is the kitchen / cooking store

After here we wandered a bit further away from the Les Halles part of Paris and found some pastry and grocery stores with interesting and wonderful products

It’s amazing the care the French put into displaying and looking after ingredients. It’s no wonder French food is amazing

Tinned Snails, COMPUTER SAYS NO!

We then found a small mall with all sorts of cool shops

There was one with steel letters on display. Of course I let my inner 13 year old out to play a little, bit unfortunately Sharon’s outer teacher took over and made my display slightly more high brow before we left

We are now also the proud owners of the French equivalent of Opal/Oyster cards. It took quite a bit to navigate the French bureaucracy, find someone who spoke English and get some photos printed, but we did it, we have them and no need now for paper tickets. Vive Le France 🇫🇷!! Vive la révolution 🇫🇷 🧀🥐🍷!!!!

After a rest we went up to Montmartre for dinner in a great little restaurant. Of course the food was amazing

Fraternité Café

Our first full day and first coffees in Paris ! We got into Paris really late last night due to some cancellations and delays with the EuroStar. When we got into Paris we went straight to the hotel and got some sleep. Due to the way Eurostar costs work, a trip in on Saturday morning was way more expensive than getting in late on Friday night. As I’d already booked the apartment to start of Saturday, we just stayed in a hotel close to Gare du Nord station.

Gare do Nord is probably in the shittiest part of central Paris. It has two major train stations right next to each other, Gare du Nord and Gare du Est (North and East station). Something about major rail stations globally, they always seem to be in seedy locations. Not unlike staying right next to Central in Sydney. There are lots of cheap hotels and hostels here, but the one we had was really nice. We were right on the top floor, basically an attic conversion.

After checking out in the late morning we headed across the road to the nearest Boulangerie to get something for breakfast. It was probably the crappiest bakery in the crappiest are of Paris but the croissants were still excellent. I’ve had way worse coffees here in Paris, at least this one was hand made and not just a button push machinejobbie. I’ll give it a 6/10

My bother and sister in law were in Paris this week and we caught up with them before they had to get their train to Brussels for their flight home to Australia.

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Julie and Sharon had a look in Diptyque which is apparently a famous candle shop. I guess selling lumps of nice smelly wax you essentially set on fire for €65 each they would want to be pretty well known and very good. They did have a nice chair for bored husbands to sit on…

Shane and Julie showed us a Boulangerie they discovered which sell the best croissants in Paris, as judged this year. They are only one euro and they are spectacular.

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We had a wander through the Pantheon where you can see tombs of some of the French greats such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin, Louis Braille and Marie Curie, Alexandre Dumas. Quite often not the entire body is kept here. There are urns with hearts and other body parts buried elsewhere. A little odd

 

We had lunch at a little cafe opposite the Luxembourg gardens. I had one of the most delicious club sandwiches I’d ever had. Emma had a gigantic salad and Sharon had a croque monsieur. Shane and Julie shared a sandwich.

 

By this time I had to leave to get the keys to the apartment. It’s not the original one we booked, before we arrived a previous guest had an accident, caused a fire and the apartment was gutted. Maybe they bought one of those €65 candles……

This one was found at short notice. It’s Ok but small. At least it has a lift. Our accomodation last time in Paris was just amazing, unfortunately we will always compare to paris stays to that one.

 

After checking in, I headed back to the hotel we had overnight to pick up our luggage. Even though we decided to travel light the bags seem to have multiplied during the stay in London and navigating the metro with them (plus some of today’s shoe and bag shopping) was going to be difficult so an Uber Van was organised.

Headed out late for dinner, which is where I’m typing up most of this waiting for our meal at a Brasserie on Rue De Rome in the 8th only a few min walk down from our apartment. It’s 9.30pm at night but it’s as light at it in at 6pm in summer at home.

 

Some more pics from today

 

Ducking in for a Coffee

We all had a bit of a sleep in this morning, we have all changed time zones, Sharon and Emma dramatically and were of course very tired. We did like Elvis and exited the building around 10am and started looking for breakfast. Being central London there isn’t much open around this place on weekends so we headed up towards Liverpool St station to see what we could find.

On the way up we walked past my favourite building in London (The Gherkin) and now that I’m in London, the Obligatory Daily Gherkin returns:-

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I know there is a great restaurant that does breakfast called the Duck and Waffle on the way to Liverpool St Station, but wasn’t sure it was open today and I knew I didn’t comply with their dress code (shorts and trainers) but what the hell, might as well give it a go. Sure enough at the entrance the guy looked me up and down and reminded me of the dress code but said they would make an exception for me today. Of course inside almost every other guy is in shorts and trainers…. Well hey, At the end of the day £50 is £50….. Their entire market today was tourists, everyone taking photos of the spectacular view, selfies etc.

The food here is phenomenal and considering the view you get it’s actually great value. It would have cost us way more to go to the viewing area of the Shard and here we got food in the price. Also it’s a lot closer to the other buildings than the Shard. Coffee is a healthy 7.5/10 and my coffee was free as I ordered a second one, they forgot about it until I reminded them so gave me my coffees for free. 

Here we are and the restaurant is so high it looks down on the Gherkin.

And lets not forget the coffee and food ! Emma had some Waffles, I had Yoghurt with berries and a side order of toast. Sharon had some amazing duck eggs with truffles and mushrooms and a side of crispy bacon.

Kansas is now a zillion miles away Toto….

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Whilst there I decided to take a selfie with the the Gherkin in the background. Emma has christened any selfies with the Gherkin in the background as a “Gherkie”. After breakfast we continued up to Liverpool street for the next adventure of the day,

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