Berlin on a Bicycle: The World in an Afternoon Interlude

Berlin, cut clouds moving quickly. Crisp autumn air. Wide streets. Unfathomable history.

We set out on borrowed bicycles. They give me pause: Audrey’s back tire has a leak and my handlebars wobble like something out of the Wizard of Oz.

I begin to move. My apprehension fades, those handlebars steadier than I imagined.

It’s like riding a bicycle,” I laugh to myself.

A Perfect Day - Biking Across Berlin
Berlin on a bicycle.

The wideness of it all makes me feel unassailable, like I can take on the world. I cannot imagine a better way to consume this city: at street level.

Turkish woman with covered head, her baby in a car seat. Man in rich, forest green velvet pants and a checkered shirt. Maybe he is an artist. Maybe he is today’s fashion. Or perhaps he is both.

This is Berlin. This is their home. It speaks freedom, opportunity, possibility.

Everyone is cycling. And most are breaking the rules. Cycling in Berlin is the most un-German of German sports. I’m thankful it’s not easy to be called out for my transgressions.

I see a juggler performing at a stoplight. He struggles to make ends meet yet he gives his all at each light change. I drop a few coins into his hat. “Danke schön,” he says with a smile.

There goes Alexanderplatz. To some, Berlin doesn’t have the edge it used to. To me, it still tries to figure itself out. This is oddly loveable.

Our journey: the open air. Our destination: lunch.

“Grazie mille,” we bubble to an Italian waitress as our pizza arrives. Cherry tomatoes, chunks of buffalo mozzarella. My mind wanders briefly to places like Amalfi and Palermo.

If there’s a heaven and I make it, I just may cycle the streets of Berlin to get there. And when I arrive, something like this might be waiting for me.

Fantastic Pizza at Papa Pane in Mitte, Berlin
Perfect Pizza at Papa Pane in Berlin

I am thankful for a moment like this — all two hours of it.

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Comments

  1. says

    @Cathy: We’ve visited Potsdam and a few areas outside of Berlin. But this time around, we’ve focused on combing the city and various neighborhoods, east and west.

    @Lola: It was pretty fabulous, but the item that made the surprising difference: fresh cherry tomatoes. In any event, well worth the cycle.

    @Laura: I definitely don’t think of Berlin as a pizza town. More for Turkish food. But there are pizza moments and this was definitely one of them. Well worth going out out of the way for. However, we’ve had this pie twice. And the second time, while good, was not great like the first time around. And like I said to Lola, I think the difference was in timing and the freshness of the tomatoes. In any event, I would cycle across Berlin for döner.

    Actually, come to think of it, we have.

  2. says

    Berlin is on my bucket list and planning a trip hopefully this summer. It sounds wonderful! Enjoyed reading your adventures.

    Happy Travels,
    Beverly Mann

  3. says

    @Beverly: Certainly, keep Berlin on your bucket list. Great city. And in our experience, where you stay and spend your time will have an impact on your impressions. While living in Prague, we visited Berlin about six times or so. But our most recent visit, we focused our attention in and around Kreuzberg, the neighborhood where our flat was. We also, for the first time, spent a lot of time on our bicycles exploring all the other neighborhoods. For us, this was the perfect recipe. Speaking of recipes, be sure to check out our Food in Berlin: Top 10 Under 5 Euros piece which we just published. Wonderful food.

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