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Archive for August, 2015

Starting your tour in Saarbrücken

Our Saar Moselle Bike Trail starts in Saarbrücken, a city with beginnings in Roman Times and an eventful history since then. For those of you having arrived early for the tour you will be spoilt for choice where to go for sightseeing.1024px-Schloss_Saarbruecken,_HDR

History on display

Even though the area was only sparsely populated during the roman occupation, there are a couple of sites worthwhile discovering: the Mithras Temple near Halberg and the Museum of Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology in the city. If you’re more interested in ‘modern’ history the “Saarlandmuseum’ combines three localities and displays a range of art and architecture throughout the past 5 centuries. And the Heimatmuseum in St.Arnual gives you an insight into the local history from a socio-economic perspective.1280px-Mithrasgrotte_Halberg_Saarbruecken

These are just a few of the museums in Saarbrücken, depending on how much time or inclination you have you can spend all day sightseeing. Or you could enjoy the multi-faceted food culture present in the city.

The Best of two nations

Due to its location, Saarbrücken has been a part of the German and French states at some time or another in its history. In fact, the last time that it was affiliated to France was from 1947 – 57 as part of the zoning of post-war Germany. A 1955 referendum resulted in the return in 57, which was called a ‘little reunification’. Since then the settled times have encouraged the development of regional cuisines that reflect both the German and French heritage and love for food. In the city center you will find loads of restaurants catering for every aspect of food culture, with one thing in common: the typical French love for enjoyment of it. On top of other French classics as snails, pate and an assortment pre-dinner drinks like pastis and kir of course! Or try one of the local specialities: Dibbellabbes! And no, I did not make that up. It’s kind of a hash brown, usually served with Sauerkraut.dibbellabbes

Get into the spirit…

… and enjoy the proximity of ancient history with the amalgamation of two nation’s food history before we head out to discover more wonders and pleasures along our trip.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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Bikes, not as you used to know them

And following from our last post a quick update on what’s around before we get into more travelling highlights. The serious cyclists amongst our readers will be well and truly informed about the latest advances in technology and how they get adapted to their beloved mode of transport. And one thing that we were surprised to discover during some recent research, is the leaps and bounds being made on the e-bike front.

E-bike – Pedelec – Moped

Electricbike1raleighAs we mentioned in earlier articles most European cities are extremely bike friendly and want to increase the amount of cycles used. While I grew up using a Moped to get around, this fossil-fuel powered and regulated mode of transport is not attractive to the modern urbanite. Instead a new breed of two-wheelers are catching their eyes: the pedal-assisted bike – only, on-demand and on-demand only versions – powered by a rechargeable battery!

Stylish in the city

675px-E-bike_charging_stationWhile the first models reminded one very much of a DIYer’s mad dream, today’s versions come in all sorts of designs. But not only the looks have improved, the advances in battery technology have made them an easy to use transport vehicle. Reduced battery weight and aluminium frames make them an excellent choice to get started in unlikely places like Wellington for example.

The future on wheels

640px-A_mountain_bike_styled_e-bike,_Cyclotricity_StealthWhile some people still doubt that bikes could ever become the sole mode of transport here in New Zealand, changes in city design and environmental awareness show them as economic and ethical alternatives to the fuel-guzzling square boxes we’re using at the moment. And future changes in regulations around their use in national parks means they can indeed be used like your usual mountain bike and take you to places you might not have considered before.

Cycling in Germany

If you have a look at our tours through Germany you will see that on top of having dedicated cycle tours available now, most will include shorter or longer trips around the cities or country side on pushbikes. If you’re interested to try these fascinating e-bikes, talk to us and we will see what would be best for you.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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Cruising through Germany on two wheels

As you might remember from some of our previous articles, discovering Germany with us will at some stage involve a bicycle. At Sidetracks we think a bike is an excellent way of covering a decent distance and still having the leisure to enjoy your surroundings, town and country alike. So for the next season in Germany we have put together three exciting bike tours that will take you through different parts of Germany and can be combined with our other tours. These tours will not only keep you fit cycling, but take you on a ride discovering Germany’s history, culture and traditions. Today I want to introduce the tours and the regions they cover in general and in the following weeks we will present to you some of the highlights of these tours.

Main River Bike Trail

"Roter Main (Bayreuth)" by Tafkas - Own work.

“Roter Main (Bayreuth)” by Tafkas – Own work.

This 5 star trail will take you through picturesque towns of the Main valley starting in the festival town of Bayreuth and finishing in Würzburg, a UNESCO world heritage city which dates as far back as the 4th century. Along the river you will get to see other stunning examples of architecture throughout the centuries and experience a variety of local cuisine, wines and beers as we move from traditional beer brewing country to wine growing region.

Saar Moselle Bike Trail

Saarschleife by Niesefrosch Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwikiFileSaarschleife.jpg#mediaFileSaarschleife.jpg

Saarschleife by Niesefrosch

This is a wine lovers’ kind-of trail: along two rivers famous for their wine growing and wine making history we will take you on a journey through time. From the UNESCO heritage site (Völklinger Hütte) to breath taking views from mountain tops (Saar Loop), a medieval castle (Burg Eltz) and to the Villas and Baths from Roman times (Porta Nigra, Villa Rustics and Imperial Baths). By the end of the trip you will have enjoyed more than your share of art, architecture and history on top of having a taste of the renowned wines of this region.

Weser River Bike Trail

599px-Minden_an_der_Weser-FachwerkhäuserAlmost smack-bang in the middle of Germany this tour takes you through a region rich in history and stories. Along the river Weser you will get to see buildings dating from the Romans (Porta Westfalica) through the Middle Ages to the Baroque Period, all set in small rural towns and all with different characters. From porcelain manufacturing to perfume making to the birthplaces of some truly unique characters of German folklore. One special feature of our ride will be discovering the huge range of half-timbered houses prevalent in this area. By the end of the tour you will have gained an interesting insight into middle German history and culture.

Last comment…

…for today that is: as electric bikes are becoming increasingly more popular, we will be offering the use of those on our tours as well. All the tours are quite easily manageable with ‘normal’ bikes, but if you would like to, you can experience the difference for an additional charge. Please get in contact with us if you’d like to know more about electric bikes or our tours.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Historic warehouses and offices in Hamburg protected

"Chilehaus Hamburg 2013" by Sebastian Warneke - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chilehaus_Hamburg_2013.jpg#/media/File:Chilehaus_Hamburg_2013.jpg

Chilehaus Hamburg 2013 by Sebastian Warneke

We are proud to announce that another destination on our tour ‘Cosmopolitan North’ has been declared worth protecting and became a UNESCO world heritage site. The distinct brick warehouses and offices along the canals and inner city of Hamburg’s ‘Speicherstadt’, ‘Kontorhausviertel’ and ‘Chilehaus’ have been deemed relevant as symbols of the rapid international growth of trade of the 19th and 20th century. In earlier articles we have already introduced other items of interest in Hamburg, here’s a bit more about the ‘Speicherstadt’ now.

Money talks, even then!

Unicode

To be able to accommodate the need for more storage and processing space in the harbour, over 20.000 people had to be relocated and over a 1000 buildings levelled before building on the new warehouses and office blocks could begin in 1883. Workers and labourers found new homes in the new high rises in Barmbek and Hammerbrook, while other home owners converted their summer batches along the Alster or Elbe into the main family homes.

Bricks, bricks and some more bricks

"Chilehaus (Hamburg-Altstadt).Detail.5.ajb" by Bild: © Ajepbah / Wikimedia Commons /. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 de via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chilehaus_(Hamburg-Altstadt).Detail.5.ajb.jpg#/media/File:Chilehaus_(Hamburg-Altstadt).Detail.5.ajb.jpg

Chilehaus (Hamburg-Altstadt).Detail.5 by Ajepbah

From a New Zealand perspective these buildings must seem utterly incongruous: as far as the eye can see beautiful dark red brick buildings with ornate fronts and highly detailed and decorated rooflines. An earthquake conscious engineers’ nightmare! Their designs are classic examples of Gothic Revival architecture and as such represent the revived mercantile attitudes of the entrepreneurial Middle Ages. Show of wealth was in, so bigger, taller and prettier was the motto of the day for the architects. Photos can give you only a limited impression of these distinct buildings, so come and join us on our two tours discovering the mercantile and architectural history of Germany’s northern cities.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

 

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