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Insider tip II: Give away / Swap website in Bielefeld

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Here is a very good place to look for furniture (among other things) for free.  People post an article they are willing to either give away or swap (usually for a crate of beer or some washing powder).

Coralie

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Quick insider tip: M Kaffee

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As mentioned in another post I am a big fan of M Kaffee.

And even if I have been there a lot the past year, I only discovered a few week ago that if you become a fan of their Facebook page, you will get promotion offers for different drinks as below (on Sept. 04):

 Yeah!!!!!
Coralie

In search of hobbies and friends

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I guess everyone who moves to a new place is going to struggle at first to meet new people and make new friends.  For me Bielefeld was the 4th country  I moved to and the best trick I learned when it comes to get into your ‘new life’ is to start looking activities to enrol for as soon as possible.

As my level of German proficiency is quite high, you might think the range of activities that I can chose from is bigger. For sure I won’t advise you to join right away a debating club or theater class, but any activities where you need to ‘mirror’ the teacher works even with the most basic understanding of the language. For example, some 5 years ago, my husband and I joined a salsa class in Zürich. At the time we already knew a fair amount of  German. However the class was in the local dialect (Swiss German) and adding to this the music as a background we spent the first few weeks mirroring the teachers in the middle of a merry jibber-jabber ;). Moreover after the first class we had to rotate partners every few dances: there is something quite funny in dancing closely with a stranger who from time to time will make a remark to which you will just smile and say ‘I am sorry I don’t understand Swiss German’- to which he probably replied: ‘jibber jibber jabber-don’t understand-jabber’ and smiled back. But my point is that it is doable. Moreover during the break people started to speak with us in high German or English and after a few month we had enough grasp of Swiss German so that it wasn’t a problem anymore. So through this class, not only did we learn to dance salsa, but we also improved our Swiss German and met new people, some of which we are still now in contact with.

So here I want to share a list of things you might be interested to do in Bielefeld:

  • Except if you are already proficient in German, you might want to visit a language school. This is an excellent way to meet new people who are in the same situation than yours. Also while learning the language most teachers are going to use examples of every day life in Germany and it will be a nice way to get to know your new environment. The 2 schools I would recommend are BIBIS Schule and Tandem Schule. The school won’t necessarily tell you this but you can always ask to attend the class for 1 week (and pay for it) before enrolling for the next 2 month.
  • If you are interested in sport, the  Sportbund Bielefeld has a great offer for a very small price (for example 12 classes of 1 hour of Pilates for a total price of 52 €). You just have to make sure you register early enough.
  • Another great source of classes for reasonable prices can be found at the Volkshochschule. Their website is not very easy to navigate but you can also go there if you have question or call. They also offer German classes but they are known to be pretty bad. I personally took a theater class which was great fun :).
  • I looked for a good yoga studio for quite a long time until Loft Yoga opened near from Adenauerplatz. The teacher Edyta is great. There are also a couple of classes in English. After the class you can hang out a while at her studio and discuss with the other students. This is quite unusual in my experience as I have been to other place where people would leave without a word as soon as the class was over (not really a ‘namaste’ attitude).
  • After having tried salsa dance in Zürich, my husband and I wanted to learn a new dance style. We found a Lindy Hop school and had a great time learning the basic steps, etc. The teachers are both doing their phd at the Bielefeld university and are just great! As the school is still relatively small you get to know people very fast. They also organize social dance events during which people can take an introductory class for free.

These are just a few ideas of what you might want to start doing in Bielefeld.  If you know of other great offers for classes,etc., please do not hesitate to share in the comments!

Coralie

 

Restaurants and bars

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After writing about the coffee places in Bielefeld, here is a non-exhaustive list of the restaurants and bars my husband and I enjoy going to:

  • Milestones changes its menu daily and has a great selection of drinks. I have never tried out their brunch but everyone tells me it is worth checking out. In the summer you can sit in the Biergarten, which is nice even if the road is a little bit too noisy for me. But the best in Milestones are the waiters/waitresses. They are super friendly and will speak to you in English. If you have a late-late night there, they’ll keep the place open for you and/or start to tidy up while you can still have drinks.

  • The Irish Pub is a great place to hang out. On Monday night, it’s quiz night (in German and English). I have only been once but it was fun. Make sure to come with a group of 4 or + people. Some groups seemed to be coming regularly to this quiz night and are pretty good. You can also order pizza but that’s all there is to eat and it is not specially great. But it is nice to have some Irish beers from time to time :-).
  • Verve makes very good burgers. They also stay open pretty late. In the winter the place tends to be a little bit cold or at least that is my impression, so I always made sure to have an extra jacket with me.

  • Brauhaus serves typical dishes from Southern Germany and brews its own beers. In the summer, they have the best Biergarten in Bielefeld. Among their own brews, my favorite is Messing. I usually order the Schnitzel Jägerart. The staff is friendly enough. You don’t need to make a reservation when coming for dinner as the place is huge. However, without fail the waitress responsible for seating you will make a troubled face and ask you to wait while she checks for a free table (Halllooo there are 5 empty tables just in front of us 😉 ). It has become some kind of a joke with my friends. Still, I would recommend to make a reservation if you are with a big group (8 or more people).
  • Glück und Seligkeit is trendier than the places mentioned above. It consists of two parts. The main lobby is a bar/restaurant with a fair choice of foods and some awesome cocktails. Upstairs they have a gastronomical restaurant that my husband and I tried for our wedding anniversary. In my opinion it wasn’t really good, especially the service.
  • Bernstein is located on the rooftop of one of the buildings near Jahnplatz. It has a unique view of Bielefeld and surroundings, especially in the summer when the terrace is open. It is a little bit pricey and the food selection isn’t much except for the brunch (available daily) where they have a large buffet of warm and cold dishes.

  • Der Koch is ideally located at Siegfriedplatz. The place doesn’t look very big when you enter but there are two additional rooms in the back so you will always find a table.  They have a quite good choice of  traditional German dishes. For example, in the winter they offer Grünkohl with sausages from Northern Germany and Rouladen. These 2 dishes can also be found at the Brauhaus but they are far tastier at Der Koch. But my favorite winter dish is the Sesamknödel with chanterelle. Sooooo goood you would wish winter to last more than the average eight months we have in Bielefeld!!
  • Can Ocakbasi is in my opinion the best kebab place in Bielefeld. All the products are really fresh and you can have turkish tee for free. They also have a wide range of other dishes. I haven’t tried them yet but what I saw ordered by other customers looked very yummy!

  • Argentina Steakhouse makes very good… Argentinian steaks. This is clearly not a place to be vegeterian 😉 but if you enjoy your piece of meat then it is really a nice treat. Be careful to either come a little bit late or to make a reservation on weekends.
  • Kado Sushi is THE sushi place in Bielefeld. Sushi is good and the restaurant itself is really lovely. But it is always packed so you have to make a reservation. If you are going with a group of four or more people you might want to book it as early as 1-to-2 weeks in advance. I know as I once tried to book a table for four two days in advance and the next available spot was two weeks from then. A good value for money is to take one of the bentos (a wide selection of sushi served on one plate). You should also try the hot sake. All the bentos come with a miso soup.

  • Bombay, situated near the train station, is the best Indian restaurant in Bielefeld. I specially like the chicken tikka masalah. The owner is very friendly and the service is good if not very fast. They also do home delivery but a friend told me he once waited almost 2 hours to get his order so I would recommend that you’d rather go dine directly there!
  • NichtSchwimmer is located near the Kado Sushi and the Mocca Klatsch (See article on coffee places). It is worth mentioning as it offers great pizzas with real mozzarella (most Italian restaurants in Germany replace the mozzarella with gouda). The terrace on the square in front of the restaurant is really nice in the summer.

There are plenty of other great places to dine out with your friends or family in Bielefeld. For the past year a lot of new places have opened that I haven’t been to. This is the force of habits that we always visit the same places!

Anyway I hope, you enjoyed reading about this and:

Bon appétit!

Coralie

Coffee time in Bielefeld

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There are a lot of place you can go in Bielefeld to have a coffee and a chit chat with friends. Here a few coffee places among my favorites:

  • M Kaffee in the Altstadt has a great selection of coffee and tee and also some very yummy snacks. I usually order a Milchkaffee or a Tiger Chai Tee. I spend a lot of time there because they have wifi and well-placed power sockets. Also for the price of a coffee (2.70 € for a small one) I can spend as long as I want checking my emails, browsing the net or working on my personal projects. You need a password to access the wifi, which can be found at the counter (on the left side of the cashier).

  • Mocca Klatsch up near the Bahnhofstr. is a very nice alternative for a coffee place with wifi. They also have delicious breakfasts and the owner is really friendly. One of my friends once didn’t have enough cash to pay for his dinner (this is also a restaurant/bar in the evening) and told the owner he would just run to the ATM and come back to pay. The owner told him not to worry about it and to pay whenever he comes back :-).

  • Starbucks near Jahnplatz: I use it on Sunday morning f I want to be out of my place to work on my laptop because M Kaffee doesn’t open before 1pm on Sunday and Mocca Klatsch is too busy with people going for brunch.
  • Puro Coffee can also be found at Jahnplatz. It has no wifi but the coffee is very good.

Coralie

Health and beauty

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It took me time to get used to the health system in Germany and find professionals with whom I felt comfortable. I also struggled finding beauty or health products I was used to. So today I thought I will share some addresses and products I have used since I arrived in Bielefeld.

Health / Address:

  • Generalist: I highly recommend the office of Dr. Speitel in the Altstadt. The cabinet has a walk-in service every morning of the week from 9am to 12am and in the afternoon (Mo. 5pm-7pm, Tu.-Th. and Fr. 4pm-6pm). So basically you just show up and they will tell you how long you have to wait before seeing the doctor. And if you want to run some errands during the waiting time, they will just call you on your mobile phone when your turn is coming (in the next 15min). I was there twice and didn’t need to wait more than 10min but I love the flexibility it gives me. Note: for blood tests, etc. you need to make an appointment.
  • Gynecologist: I go to Dr. med. Anke Sklenarz. It is located near the university and easily reachable with S Bahn (line 4).
  • Pharmacy: I go to the Bahnhof Apotheke at Karstadt as they give good advices and have some beauty products I use. I also have their fidelity card.

Health / Product:

  • Flu: Here are 2 products which, taken together, have helped me a lot this winter:

  • Magnesium: I take this to avoid cramp during sport or menstruation. It takes effect very fast (within the next 30min) and you just take it when you need it.

  • Yeast infection: I use the soap (below) on a regular basis and when I have a little discomfort, I use this (magic) cream:

All these products can be found at the Bahnhof Apotheke without prescription.

Beauty / Address:

  • Hair: I go to Creativ Team near Babenhausen Süd. It is also easily reachable with S Bahn (line 3). Unfortunately I don’t think they speak English. My hairdresser is Sylvana. I ususally just ask for a cut (25 €) and I dry my hair myself. This  saves me some money and also I can see directly how good it looks without a professional- impossible-to-reproduce-at-home brushing.
  • Waxing: Wax in the City also has a walk-in service. If possible don’t arrive there after 5pm or on Saturday as they may not be able to take you.
  • Massage: I like this traditional thai massage place.

Beauty / Product:

  • Skin: Dr. Hauschka products are great natural products but you won’t find them everywhere. One place to look is the Bahnhof Apotheke.

  • Hand sanitizer can’t be found easily either and aren’t commonly used but I found some at Rossmann near Jahnplatz.
  • Other beauty products: I usually buy everything at Rossmann.

Coralie