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Training for new job giving bicycle tours in Berlin

11/06/2011

This week I “self trained”, getting ready to begin giving historical bicycle tours through Berlin.  I rode along with groups last weekend, taking the “Berlin Mitte” tour (Berlin “Middle area) and the “Mauer” tour (Berlin Wall tour).

The people working for Berlin Bike Tours are really extremely friendly and knowledgeable.  With the shop being located off the beaten path an well out of the touristy city center, they depend upon their “Tante Emma” (“Mom and Pop approach”) to attract customers and keep bringing them back.

It’s an approach that works quite well.  Our shop is located at the far North end of Berlin’s Mitte district, only a few yards from the checkpoint where the Berlin Wall first opened up on 9 Nov, 1989.

Let’s not get into any long history lessons here…  There’s plenty of time for those in future posts.

For now, let’s just take a look at the stops I make when giving the Mitte tour.  I’ll keep the photo texts to a minimum for now.

Starting point…  The shop at Bornholmer Straße 75.  We adjust the bikes to fit our clients and allow them a short test ride up/down the sidewalk to become accustomed to it.

Or first stop on the tour is the Bornholmer Straße border crossing where (as mentioned above) it was the first crossing to open up on 9 Nov. 1989

The next stop is at the Zionskirche where famed anti-Nazi minister Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave the church a reputation for anti-establishment policies.  After his murder at the hands of the Nazis, the chruch remained a center for resistance to oppressive government, including the East German regime.

We move on to Oranienburger Straße, were we view the Neue Synagoge and the Postfuhramt.  (I covered these two buildings in my “Ghost Wall” post of 2 June)

The ride takes us past Charité Hospital and medical school…  Established in 1710 and one of the largest in Europe.

Crossing the Spree river, we first get a view of Berlins new (2006) main train station and the Reichstag.

As seen in previous posts, we ride by the Brandenburg Gate and the Holocaust memorial.

A little later, we pass by Potsdamer Platz (once one of the busiest intersections in Europe).  Shown is a replica of Europe’s oldest automatic traffic light (1926) and the Sony Center.  Potsdamer Platz was a wasteland before the wall came down.

Gendarmenmarkt is home to the Konzerthaus and the French and German Cathedrals.

It’s then a short ride to Unten den Linden (street) where we look at Humboldt University and the Berlin Dom.

Finally, we finish our tour at the television tower in Alexanderplatz.

Naturally, we make a lot of quick stops at other places along the way…  but you will just have to ride along to see those.  😉

One last thing…  I tried making a small video of our group while we were riding…  As you can see, it’s impossible to get a decent video from a moving bicycle…  Well… from the kind of camera I can afford anyway.  😉


For more information on Berlin Bike Tours, please copy/paste this URL into your browser: http://www.berlinbiketour.eu

Until next time, my friends!

RJ

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2 Comments
  1. Best of luck as a cycling touring guide in Berlin! Do you ever worry about everyone staying together and being safe?

    Or maybe Berlin has separated bike lanes.

    I’ve never been to Berlin nor has my partner. He’s originally from Germany ages ago but immigrated to Canada as a little boy. He’s gone back several times to see relatives, also to cycle-touring on his own. We were cycling touring in southern Germany. (My blog has some of that scenery and foodie reviews. 😀 from a cross-cultural perspective.) We used the Deutsch Bahn train system with our bikes to get back from Switzerland and also to get to Prague. It was a great trip and going with my dearie who still can speak abit of German, was helpful.

    • Hi Jean,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Certainly safety is always a concern. Before each ride, we spend a few minutes talking about safety and bicycle etiquette/rules with the riders. Among what we discuss is what to do if a rider gets separated from the group for any reason. (The basic instruction is the same as your parents told you when you were a child… that is, “If you get lost, sit down and stay put… Don’t move. We’ll come back to find you.”)

      Although Berlin is hectic, it’s very bicycle friendly (for the most part). Many many streets have bicycle lanes, as do many of the sidewalks. A rider must pay particular attention on the bike lanes on the sidewalks… Pedestrians simply forget the bike lanes are “road ways” and very frequently stroll out into them without looking. In fairness, I must admit I catch myself doing this occasionally as well when I’m walking along and not paying enough attention… So I try not to be too hard on pedestrians when I see them step into the bike lanes. (Another rule my parents taught me was to simply “be nice”.)

      Although I personally like riding in the hills, Berlin is certainly easy to get around because it is basically flat as a pancake (with a few minor exceptions). So for people who don’t ride much, Berlin is a great city to ride in.

      Cheers! – RJ

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