Movies in the park

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I was just looking at the schedule for the open air cinema in Ravensburger Park and there are some great movies this summer, starting  July 14th and running through to  September 1st.  I don’t see the schedule on the website just yet but there are lots of brochures around in town.


Forest and Siggies

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Inspired by Sam’s description of the ‘hobbit village’ in her post on Nordic walking trails, we went to investigate further. At the top of the steep path, leading up from Burger Park to the woods, we took a right onto a small road Sieben Hügel. We strolled along enjoying the forest on one side and great views across Bielefeld on the other. Sure enough we came across the little gardens and their cute garden sheds. They are what we would call allotments in England. Although in England they are used mainly for growing vegetable and here they are planted with flowers and the sheds are much bigger, almost tiny houses. They enjoy an amazing view across Bielefeld. We keep walking until we reached the café Gartenlokal Sieben Hügel (there’s a small sign), it’s an eclectic old fashioned place and easily reached from the forest too if you were hiking by. There is no set menu – the owner cooks whatever she feels like on the day. It’s a rather magical setting alongside the ‘hobbit village’. Thanks Sam for sharing your adventure and inspiring us to visit too!

Der Koch is a cozy place to eat in the winter but in the summer the action moves outside to the Super Tram. Tables appear in the square and it’s a great place to get a drink or dinner on a warm evening.  I love the sense of space and the fun atmosphere of Siegfriedplatz in these warmer summer months. Also the back room of Der Koch turns into an Eis cafe with delicious ice cream.



Catherine’s favourite eats



just a small selection of the incredible cakes on offer at Cafe Passon (now Cafe Gutzeit as of July 2012)

Bielefeld is small enough to feel like one borough in another major city. Nevertheless, it still has distinctive areas with their own particular character.  Being the particular nook of Bielefeld where I live, I would like to put my favourite Eateries on the map located in the East of the city, as well as the centre.

Favourite Eats in the East

Garten Eis Cafe – a family run business serving homemade creations such as the “Bielefella” – a yoghurt ice cream with crocant and liquid chocolate . Relax in their courtyard garden complete with sandpit, goldfish pond and beach chair.  They have also installed a canopy, so don’t let a bit of Bielefeld rain put you off getting your fix.

Café Passon  – Run by mother and daughter team, you’ll be pinching yourself believing you must be in a dream because surely cake cannot taste this good. And the news gets better, they only use vegetable based gelatine in their cakes. Update: Sold in July 2012 to a former trainee, and now called Cafe Gutzeit. Here’s hoping the cakes stay just as good.

Zum Siekerfelde – This pub is on Ehlentruper Weg, just behind the City hospital. It reminds me of pubs in England, as it attracts a mixture of customers. There is a great beer garden with a playground, so it is perfect for eating out with kids. You can get good pizza here and it is not too expensive.

My faves in the City Centre

Brauhaus Joh. Albrecht

A good place to bring the in-laws. Located in the historic centre, it specialises in home brewed beer and Fassbrause. Serves down to earth German meaty menu with food like schnitzels and steaks. Has some vegetarian options, though. A large beer garden and spacious restaurant.


This is an interesting café around the corner from Brauhaus offering home-made ice cream (including vegan) and soups, all using organic ingredients.  As far as I know, not licensed, but Fair Trade coffees and teas and soft drinks.  Thirty percent of profits are donated to social and environmental projects. There are exhibitions and regular events, such as yoga for kids. Self-service, you weigh the ice cream, and pay per bowl for soups.  Staff very friendly.

Cafe Casa

Just around the corner from Karstadt, this is a nice place to go if you are in town. Special offers at lunch-time, and a very nice courtyard garden with a Mediterranean flair.

Restaurant Café Karstadt Bielefeld

I am going to fess up here, and admit I love eating with all the old grannies and grandpas in Karstadt restaurant. Though I don’t want to think about what they put in those sauces to give them that special gloopy texture, I always find myself back there.  My son once raised a few eyebrows from staff when he asked for vegetables with his kids’ meal.


Ice cream without the e numbers?

Bielefeld Shops of Note – Kräuterladen Paracelsus

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Heiner Scheller, in his shop, Kraüterladen Paracelsus

Something nice about Bielefeld, and Germany in general is that there is still a culture of the small independent shop. Though this may invariably change as Germany catches up with the UK and the US, for now I would like to celebrate and point out just a few of these speciality shops still to be found in Bielefeld.

Kräuterladen Paracelsus 

My midwife originally told me about this amazing apothecary hidden away in the back streets near Bethel. The owner, Heiner Scheller is an expert in the field of Phytotherapy (herbal medicine). Apparently his early career hopes as a violinist were thwarted by an injury, which prompted him to start a career in medicine. However, his interest in music and stringed instruments never abated and he has an amazing collection of restored instruments in an adjoining studio space, which also has acted as a meeting point for music sessions with likeminded enthusiasts.

As I entered the shop, I felt I was in a sanctuary of calm, partly due to the orderly aesthetics of labelled apothecary drawers and rows of smoked glass jars on shelves but also to the wonderful aromas coming from the hessian sacks of herbs stacked around the shop. I discovered that 25 years of experience as a herbalist had enabled him to sum up a person’s disposition and needs surprisingly quickly, and soon I had a bag of mysterious looking leaves all of my own, called the Tiger Root, to brew up in the rather more unordered aesthetics of my home.

I have to confess, though, that I didn’t even make it half way through the bag in the end. I was under strict instructions from the herbalist not to drink caffeine in combination with the herbs, as my blood pressure could go dangerously high. At 18 Euros for 250 grams, the cost of these precious herbs should have been enough of an incentive to give up the coffee kick but, I am afraid to say, I am still waiting for that day, and so are my herbs!

Despite that, I can highly recommend a visit to this wonderful shop, and its gracious owner.

The shop is generally closed between 1pm and 3 pm for lunch so look up the website for opening times.


Still on the shelf, but hopefully not for long.

Refreshment in the woods

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When the sun comes out in Bielefeld, we love to eat outdoors. We found this cafe last year up on the walking trails around Schwedenschanze ‘Sweden Hills’. A lovely view of rolling fields and forest from their balcony terrace and they serve light meals and refreshments. A nice end to a hike, or just come for the view and to relax.



English Conversation at the pub!


Germans love meeting in groups to discuss their favourite hobbies, sport, anything really. They often meet in pubs at a regular table, hence the name Stammtisch.  When I first came to Bielefeld I hardly knew any English speakers and I was at home all day with my son so longed for people to talk to. I heard about the English Stammtisch through the university which has been meeting regularly for over 30 years. Originally a group of students, now a small group of professionals, mostly German, who enjoy meeting to talk in English. Conversation ranges from literature, politics, culture, just about anything. They are very welcoming to newcomers and love having new people come along. I found the group to be a great support when I first moved here and happy to explain German culture to me and advice on Bielefeld.

The English Stammtisch meets at 8.30 pm  7.30 pm (thanks Margarete for pointing out the time change) every Friday at the Augustus Pub,  August-Bebel-Strasse 47. If the weather is warm they sit outside at the back. You can also ask the owner where to find them.

The Augustus Pub is also a great pub to visit anytime. It has a nice laid back authentic feel and I hear nothing has really changed in 30 years, except for the local artwork on the walls, ( so beware the chairs have been know to fall apart under you).

UPDATE: Augustus Pub has since closed and so the Stammtisch has been moving around. They are currently meeting at CORNER Mühlenstraße 2 . You can check their website here for further details and up-t0-date info.


Two lidos under the Bielefeld sun


In a valiant attempt to make for the lack of lakes, rivers and water in general, Bielefeld has a lot of open-air swimming pools to choose from in the warmer months. Here are the two that I have frequently visited:

Naturbad Brackwede

Popular with families, this lido has only been open a few years and is the only non-chlorinated swimming pool in Bielefeld. It is not only the natural filtering system that gives it its name but also the design. In fact, as you wiggle your toes in the sandy beach or sit lazily on the woody jetty, you may think you were at a real lake, rather than at a municipal pool, if it wasn’t for the blue 45-metre slide.

I would describe the water as a beautiful emerald green, though my kids described it as ‘murky’. They preferred the clear, chlorinated waters of the Wiesenbad, and noticed that the water is slightly colder, 24 degrees compared to Wiesenbad’s 27 degrees. I found it much easier to supervise children of varying ages here, as they all enjoyed playing on the beach and could play by or in the same lake together.

In addition to the beach area, there is also a water play and playground area for kids as well as a beach volleyball court and diving tower and a café. Most important of all, you can buy a swim nappy for a Euro for the little ones.

We don’t have a car, but you can get to this pool on the Tram 1, direction Senne.  Get off at Brackwede Bahnhof, and it is about a 10 – 15 minute walk from there via the railway station underpass. It is not signposted, so look it up first.


A teenagers’ paradise, and centrally located, it has the most visitors of all the lidos in Bielefeld. As its German name suggests, it is set in a large meadow and also has a football pitch and a beach volley-ball court. The daring attempts of kamikazi divers jumping off the 10m tower becomes a real spectator sport, which you can watch from the comfort of the Jacuzzi, if you don’t mind sharing your bubbles with ten strangers. My nieces loved the 110 metre slide, surprise sprinklers, and being swept along in the artificial current corridor.

The toddler water play area is set back from the main pool, surrounded by deck chairs and a hedge, and is a safe area for the little ones to play. If you have children of varying ages, though, it makes it a bit difficult to keep an eye on them all. There is a tribune area overlooking the swimming pool giving the baths a feeling of long lost glory, the seating area scattered with bodies, presumably trying to get nearer to the sun.

The restaurant area is much nicer in Naturbad Brackwede, but here you can also get some chips, hotdogs and ice creams from two stands in the grounds of the lido.

Be prepared for long waits for the sinks in the bathrooms, though, as you have to contend with packs of young teenagers preening themselves in the mirror.


Adults 4 Euros

Children/Students/unemployed card holders 2 Euro

Family Card 8.50 plus 1.50 additional children

children under 4 go free


The beach and lake, Naturbad Brackwede


Emerald green or “murky”. You decide! Adult/Swimmers pool Naturbad Brackwede


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I don’t know if it is because I’m from Finland but I must say my blood just drags me to the beautiful forests that surround the Bielefeld area. We have made this forest searching a family hobby and try to get out there as often as possible.

The forests, Puck tree I believe? are just amazing. They are tall like Gothic Cathedrals and have not much under growth. This makes it amazing for the kids to move around and play princesses, or treasure hunters (we have found a deer antler so far). Another major difference to a Finnish forest is the lack of mosquitoes and elk flies, and this really is a bonus! You can so easily have a picnic in the forest.

Unfortunately I can’t even tell you where these forests are as I don’t pay attention to the actual location, they are everywhere and you are allowed to park at the side of the road and roam around unless there is a private sign. We go towards Werther I think, but I advice you just to explore and see where looks nice and where the sun is at that particular time of the day.

We have always travelled by the car, many people cycle. Unfortunately I don’t know how to get to the forests by the public transport. Anybody any ideas?



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A couple of weekends ago, we got to enjoy Nachtansichten in Bielefeld (a.k.a. Museum Night). For about 8 euros each, you can gain entry to all of the city’s museums, galleries and churches. We went to see the Historiches Museum, the Kunsthalle, and the Bauernhof Museum. It was a beautiful night, one of the first comfortably warm summer nights of the year, and it was incredible to see how many people Bielefeld actually has. Highlights: seeing massive weaving machines; learning about the microphotographer/artist Carl Strüwe.

Bielefeld Nordic Walking Trails

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We live just on the edge of the Teutoburger Wald, famous for maybe(?) being the site of a battle between the Roman Empire and Germanic tribes, and also for being kinda pretty.

We chose a beautiful day to talk a walk through the forest, which is full of tall, narrow trees. I was a little concerned that we would fall into a hobbit house or be stolen away by fairies. However, before any of that could happen, the shaded forest opened up onto this field:

People were studying, sunbathing and playing with their dogs. Something that has been really difficult for me here is not interacting with dogs when we see them out and about. I’m totally cool with not interacting with people, but I’m used to being able to at least give a smile and a nod to someone with a dog, and maybe stopping to pet him (the dog, not the person), and maybe having some “dog talk”. Here, that is not the case. If the dog is on a leash, the owner will generally tug him away from other people. Most dogs, however, are not on a leash, and are ridiculously well-behaved. (They also seem to be allowed in most restaurants, which is a whole other post). They follow dutifully, and stop and come when called.

German dogs are only allowed to poop pleasant things.

It doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for the dog to, well, be a dog and run over to strangers to say hi. However, on our hike we came across a yellow lab with huge eyes and a tennis ball shoved in his mouth, and I got to quell my canine craving by throwing it for him a couple of times.

We really thought we’d wandered into a fairy tale when we saw the windmill on the horizon. It turns out it’s part of an historical re-enactment village for kids. We continued on our way, and stumbled onto a little village. Of…hobbit huts?

The land is divided into plots, with stairs and paths winding through. It covers the side of the hill, so there is a beautiful view of the city of Bielefeld. Apparently, on a nice day, you can see all the way to Detmold. Each plot has a garden, and the houses are too small to be houses, but too big to be just garden sheds. Google Translate tells me that it’s called a “Garden Hermitage.” There is a restaurant on site that serves food and drink, and my guess is that some of the food was grown right there.

This was all on the shortest of all of the Nordic walking paths available. When spring rolls around, we’ll be checking out the rest.

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