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Day trip

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Gräflicher Park, just beyond Paderborn, is a nice place for a day trip and to enjoy the autumn leaves.  The schloss is a spa hotel so not open to the general public, but for $5 euros you can walk around the park and admire the old buildings (the 5 euros includes $2.50 off your bill in the cafe).  The park is lovely and with pretty gardens around the back.  My kids enjoyed playing the with the giant chess set and there is a beautiful water sculpture.

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There is a cafe for tea and cake, also a restaurant in the old stables which has good food although you may to wait awhile for it to arrive…

 

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Skiing

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For a fun afternoon of skiing (and nothing too fancy) I can recommend the small ski resort at Bruchhausen / Olsberg. It’s only 1 hour 20 mins from Bielefield. It’s very much a family place and has a bunny slope with a pony lift alongside the main run. It’s not the Alps, but a good place for kids learning to ski (and a nice run for the adults). Winterberg is bigger ski resort 20 mins further away (more runs) and worth a visit too.

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There’s Moore to Bielefeld than Meets the Eye

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Last week in our trailing spouses art collective meeting, Patty asked us to create out own personal advertisement for what we liked best about living in Bielefeld to cheer us up over the winter months, (see We HEART Bielefeld ). The idea was, the more over the top the better! So here goes:

 

My niece Madeleine gets an earful

My niece Madeleine gets Moore of an earful

In my opinion, one of the best things to do in Bielefeld is to visit the Henry Moore statue “Oval with Points” in the Sculpture Garden of the Kunsthalle (the main art museum).

First of all, it won’t cost you a cent. You can admire it from afar, circle it slowly, eye it warily, stroke it, hug it and put your head between the points and become part of the sculpture itself. Seriously, there is no limit of the fun to be had with this sculpture. And if you are lucky, you may draw a crowd with your antics.

 

If you live in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, for example, where the Local Council recently sold their Henry Moore statue to the highest bidder to pay off some debt, you are welcome to come here and enjoy our statue. Especially those of you who live in one of the tower blocks on Stifford estate where the statue used to stand; Henry Moore had you in mind, the ordinary folk, when he sold it to the council cut price. Perhaps we can ask the wealthy citizens of Bielefeld if they would cough up the money to pay for your flights over here.

 

Perhaps your local statue has been stolen, and sold for scrap? Like the reclining nude from the Henry Moore estate Hertfordshire worth 3 million, which was melted down for scrap in 2005 for a mere 1,500 pounds.

 

And, if you are from the London Borough of Greenwich where you statue was taken away after a 25-year loan, only to mysteriously appear again during the Olympics, we promise you, our one isn’t going anywhere in a hurry.

 

The Bielefelders are generous by nature and will happily share their Moore  with you.  Perhaps you can find a few locals willing to link arms with you to form a circle of solidarity around the statue.

Come to Bielefeld. Discover Moore. !!!

 

Public transport in Bielefeld

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Ways of transport:

  • bus (Bus)
    Buses go everywhere in Bielefeld, they are clean and usually on time. You can get on buses at the front door, and show your ticket to the driver. There is normally at least one screen inside, that shows the next bus stops, and a voice telling the actual one. If not, the drivers are willing to help, they don’t necessarily speak english, but if you know at least the name of the bus stop, it will work.
  • tram (Stadtbahn, Sraßenbahn)
    There are 4 lines in Bielefeld. They are also usually on time, and faster than buses. It’s actually a mixture of tram and metro, there are some stops underground too. All the four lines meet in the center: at Hauptbahnhof, Jahnplatz, and Rathaus you can reach them all. If you have to change between tram lines, I suggest to do it at Jahnplatz, there is only one platform, you don’t need to go anywhere, not cold, and no chance to get lost…:) They also have screens inside with the next stop and the picture of the tram-network above the doors.
  • train (Bahn)
    There are a few smaller train stations inside of Bielefeld. If you are lucky to have one close to your home/work it might be the easiest and fastest way to get somewhere. You can get for example from Bielefeld Ost to Hbf in 5 min instead of the approximately half an hour by bus and tram. But you can do it maybe only once in an hour, you can find out more about it at the office at Hbf (they speak english).

Travelling with a pram, wheelchair, suitcase etc

With buses you can use the second (bigger) door, the driver normally pays attention to people with prams or wheelchairs. In theory you still have to go to the driver to show your ticket, but I’ve seen mums with prams only lifting up the ticket while standing at the bus stop when the bus arrives, so that the driver sees it.

With trams there are some special places for prams etc., you can see a sign on the door outside. (see ’Possible problems: Tram-stairs, Crowd&pram’) And there are elevators at the underground stops.

Possible problems:

  • Tram-stairs
    Most of the tram stops have a platform at the height of the doors, but there are some , where you have to get on/off from the street using pretty high stairs. It might also be a problem alone after shopping, or having some difficulties with moving, but with a pram or suitcase it’s a big problem for sure. You can ask for help, but… (see ’People’)
  • Winter
    When it snows, they clean the pavements, but not necessarily all. There are longer buses with 3 doors, and there are smaller bus stops, where they clean only up to the second door. Result: if you don’t want to jump over a half meter high snow-hill (with shopping bags, children etc), or run through half of the bus to the other door (with shopping bags, children etc) be prepared and use the second door. Trams can simply stop because of the snow, and nobody knows when can it be fixed. Try to find a bus. 🙂
  • Crowd&pram
    On buses there is only space for up to two prams or wheelchairs, including big suitcases and grannys with their ’cars’. So there might be a twin-pram and a granny already on the bus and you have to wait for the next bus(sometimes with 2 other prams…) If you have to be somewhere on time, count on it. On trams there is more chance to fit in, but they can also be full.
  • People
    I thought it’s only a problem for me (coming from Hungary), but after some international conversations it seems to be something real, and it’s also not nice to say, but better be prepared.
    So the problem is: they just don’t care. Don’t care if they step on your foot, push you, or if you have some difficulties with opening a door, standing, or getting on a bus or whatever. If you ask for help, of course they will help, but don’t ever expect someone holding a door for you as a woman (sometimes even letting you go first… or even not pushing you), giving you the seat just because you are pregnant/older, or helping automatically at getting on a tram with a pram. (yes, I must be naive, but these things were natural for me)
    And that might be a real problem for those who just don’t speak german, not necessarily able to ask for help…
    Just to be clear: I am NOT saying everybody is like that, there ARE people helping, but it’s simply not usual

Tickets

There are prices are for different zones but the whole of Bielefeld belongs to the price-zone (Preissufe) 1, which makes things easy. You only have to think about the zones when you go outside of the city. The chart with the zones, prices and all are on every ticket automat nachine. You can buy almost every kind of ticket for every zone.

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My pictures are taken on the 10 January 2013, they are now the actual prices, but they might change!

Tickets

Einzelticket – Single ticket: you can travel wherever, however, changing as many times as you want with it, (inside of the zone) for 90 minutes after stamping it.
Short ticket (Kurz) you can travel up to 4 stops, one way without changing.

4er Ticket – 4 x single ticket: Either up to 4 people or for 4 journeys. Cheaper than buying them individually.  You can buy either 4 short tickets (see above) or 4 regular tickets.

9 Uhr Tagesticket – Daily tickets

  • Single daily ticket: for 1 person for the whole day, from 9 in the morning valid from stamping.
    (if you would need at least 3 tickets for the day, already worth it)
  • Daily ticket for 5: for up to 5 people travelling together, for one whole day from 9 in the morning, valid from stamping
    (if you use it with 2 people, and you would need at least 3 tickets/person, already worth it, if are using it with 5 people, and would need at least 1 ticket for the day, already worth it!)

7 Tage ticket, (9 Uhr)Monatsticket – Ticket for 7 days, Monthly ticket
They are for your name, valid with ID, for a week/month. Monthly tickets you can also get the 9Uhr version.

Sechser Abo, 9 Uhr Abo
It is a great thing! It’s actually a monthly ticket with a contract. (also in 9Uhr version)
You are not buying your ticket every month, but make a contract and they are sending it to you by post every 3 months, and taking the money from your bank account every month. (don’t be scared of the ’contract’ thing, you can easily quit, you might have to pay for those which are already sent to you so maximum 3 months, but I’ve seen advertisements to sell them in newspapers or e-bay. And if you don’t have the money on your account they are cancelling it anyway 🙂 )

It’s without a name, so more people can use it (problem: the ’I forgot my ticket at home’ excuse is not working with it)

And the best: It’s cheaper than the normal monthly ticket, and weekdays after 7pm and all day weekends you can take one more adult and 2 children and a bike for each with you!!!

Other tickets

I don’t know much about them, you can find out more about it at MoBiel Haus (see below) they speak english.

  • Monatsticket im Ausbildungsverkehr
    Reduced monthly ticket
  • Fun ticket
    Special ticket for children between 6 and 14, valid only for the afternoons and weekends
  • Zusatzticket Fahrrad
    Ticket for transporting bicycle.

Where and how to get tickets

  • At most of the tram stops from automat machines (except for weekly/monthly tickets) they  take 5 and 10€ banknotes and bank cards too

ticketautomat

  • At the bus drivers (except for weekly/monthly tickets), but it costs approximately 20 cents more,
  • At Jahnplatz, underground at MoBiel office
  • At MoBiel Haus the central office: from Jahnplatz, walk towards the direction of the Rathaus and it’s on the first corner on the left

What to do with them

Single, 4er, and daily tickets need to be stamped. (4er tickets once for each person, and once for each ways, 2 on the front and 2 on the back side). On buses there is an orange box for it near the driver. If you buy single ticket ticket from the driver, you don’t need to stamp it. At trams there are orange boxes at the tram stops and on the tram also, you can choose where to stamp. But if you want to travel longer with them, it’s only valid for 90 minutes, better to stamp on the tram, so you won’t lose 10-12 minutes at waiting.

Timetables

  • You can find timetables at every bus/tram/train stop. They are normally actual and useful.
    Important: pay attention to the little tricky signs which might be near the leaving time, and might mean either nothing to you (goes through an other street as usually, has an other number from halfway, or goes further than the end station) or something very very important (goes only till halfway or doesn’t stop in your bus stop or working only on fridays). If you don’t know what does it mean, better try to ask someone there or the driver (works only by telling the driver the name of the bus stop, and getting the answer: ’ja’ or ’nein’), I had already some unpleasant surprises.
  • You can have your own copy also. For all the tram and some of the bus timetables you can simply take from the office at Jahnplatz. But you can ask for every bus or tram timetable, not only the general, but the one-for-your-bus-stop version at MoBiel Haus (see above). They are simply printing them for you.

You can find everything at mobiel.de but of course it’s in german. For timetables on the homepage click on ’Auskunft’ on the blue line, then click on ’Fahrplanbuch’ on the list on the left side. It will give you the list of all the tram and bus lines both directions. There is also a journey planner which can show you the best route to your destination.

Flying to London?

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Travelling to London became harder when Air Berlin cancelled their flights from Munster Osnabruck, Paderborn and Hannover last year. So I was excited to hear  City Jet (part of Air France and KLM) are now flying from Munster and also Paderborn (starting April 22nd). Tickets are reasonably priced and include a bag, plus they fly to City Airport in London, which is tiny so less delays and much easier to get into central London. And with the new highway extension to Paderborn now open, it’s even quicker to get there. Getting home is getting a lot easier!

Now I’m just waiting for the long promised euro channel train service  to run direct from London to Köln….

Rheda-Wiedenbrück Christmas Market (visited by Sam)

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On Saturday, we took a twenty minute train ride to the small town of Rheda-Wiedenbrück to check out their Christmas market. (The town is technically two parts, Rheda and Wiedenbrück. The Christmas market is located in Wiedenbrück and the train station is in Rheda. If you’ve come in on a train, you’ll want to take the 78 bus to the Ratskeller stop.)

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The Christmas market is nothing huge, but it’s a beautiful little town. These are the sorts of pictures everyone is looking for when you tell them you went to a quaint German village. It’s right out of a fairytale. A very cold fairytale.

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We stopped and got a little something to warm up. Glühwein with blueberries, chile con carne and potato cream soup.

blueberry gluehwein

soup

Before we went, we were told that the lights were beautiful. As the sun started to set, we realized that the it wasn’t so much the lights in the market, but the lights decorating the whole area surrounding the market, that are a big deal. The sky was not too shabby, either.

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It was bitterly cold – though maybe the ice on the water wheel gives that away.

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