Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Biking/Bicycling/Cycling in Berlin

We went to the CMT (Caravans, Motor, Tourism) Exhibition in Stuttgart last weekend. This is a major exhibition and runs for 9 days starting on a Saturday. Over the first weekend, one of the eight halls is reserved for outdoor holidays: Hill walking, mountaineering and all aspects of cycling. There are three halls packed full with stands offering information on more general tourism.  The other halls feature caravans, motor homes and tents. From what we could see the motor homes seem to be featuring more and more comforts of home such as lifts and underfloor heating (a slight exaggeration, but not much) with lorry sized extra springing and shock absorbers. We spent most of our time in the cyclist and walkers' hall, but did a have quick peer in one or two of the more general halls. Cycling is now a major selling point for holidays in Germany and by Germans. As an example, Thomas Cook AG, a very important player in the German travel industry is offering worldwide cycling holidays on the German market, but not for the British market. Just about all of the tourist regions in Germany and many western European tourist regions were represented. Up to a third of the information available was about cycling. More and more Austrian, German and Swiss holiday regions are offering tailor made cycle touring holidays with  hotel booking, luggage transfer and optional bicycle/e-bike hire which is ideal if holiday makers don't speak German and do not wish to fuss booking a number of hotels.

The Berlin tourism website has a section about cycle  touring in Berlin: fahrrad.visitberlin.de. It comes up in German, but click on the language list on the top right hand corner to find the English version. The website offers route information and information on thirty cyclist-friendly hotels and hostels which are tailored to meet cyclists' needs:

  • Cyclists needing just one night's stay are welcome
  • Secure overnight bike storage free of charge, but please check with the hotel for details!
  • Room to dry out clothes and gear
  • Breakfasts rich in vitamins and carbohydrates or the option for cooking facilities
  • Regional cycling maps provided
  • Information about guided city tours
  • Bike repair kits for minor repairs & maintenance
  • Directions to the nearest bike shop for major repairs
  • Advice on booking environmentally-friendly return journeys by public transport
These resemble the ideas behind the ADFC Bett und Bike website and service, which has 46 places to lay your weary head from holiday flats, campsites, hostels to hotels throughout greater Berlin. There may be some overlap between the two lists.
All of the hotels and hostels on the Visit Berlin list have bikes for hire.
Cyclists can download suggestions for tours in Berlin from komoot.de and use an app available from Google Play Store or iPhone App Store on their smart phones to navigate.

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