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Catherine’s favourite eats

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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.

Deine-Eisb@r

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.

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Ice cream without the e numbers?

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Two lidos under the Bielefeld sun

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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.

Wiesenbad

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.

Prices:

Adults 4 Euros

Children/Students/unemployed card holders 2 Euro

Family Card 8.50 plus 1.50 additional children

children under 4 go free

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The beach and lake, Naturbad Brackwede

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

Rainy Day fun with the kids

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On a rainy Sunday we visited the recently renovated Ishara swimming pool. We were really impressed with the huge kids area. Lots of different pools to splash around in for all ages, a pirates ship, giant slides, Jacuzzi, water fountains etc. Everything was very clean with lots of chairs to relax in and nice thoughtful touches – like car seats and playpens for babies to sit in by the pool, armbands and toys. Mornings are the best time on a weekend to visit as afternoons get pretty crowed.

A great place to take kids on one of those cold rainy Bielefeld days.

http://www.ishara.de

Dino Park

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We went to the Dinosaurier Park near Hannover this weekend. It’s a fun place if you have youngsters interested in dinosaurs. Visitors walk around admiring life sized models in the woods. Some are huge and there are plenty to see, a few can be climbed on. There are a couple of nice playgrounds and several picnic areas.  There were also extra activities for additional charge (panning for gold, cracking open fossils etc). Overall my son and husband enjoyed it but I felt it was rather overpriced. So more of a place to visit as a one off.

To our amusement, we also saw signs to a stork museum and a herring fishing museum on the way.

http://www.dinopark.de

Classes for kids and adults

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My son loved his toddler gym class at the Hedwig Dornbusch Schule. They have a great selection of kids classes from art, movement to music. They are very affordable so places fill up fast. They also have a good selection of adult classes too.

http://www.hedwig-dornbusch-schule.de

For adults the Volkshochschule has a lot of affordable classes too, including learning german http://www.vhs-bielefeld.de

second hand kids clothes & toys

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Kinderflohmarkts are great places for second hand clothes and toys, held at kitas around Bielefeld. To find out when and where they are online
http://www.facebook.com/l/BAQGH1nvSAQE5o6lOjS8uiKWmzAs3vYwZVLuubOGACTdCyQ/www.lz-veranstaltungen.de/ Just put in *Rubrik* :Flohmarkt and in PLZ/Stadt: Bielefeld  Or look on the notice boards at local supermarkets.

There are two second hand shops

Second Hand for Kidshttp://www.2hand4kids.de/

Liebeskind – Arndtstrasse 52

Adventure Parks

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We found two great places to take kids for a fun day out. They both have low admission charges and are beautiful parks with lots of play areas, swimming pools, kids museum, animals etc.  There’s lots of different things for the kids to wear themselves out on while the parents picnic on the grass. Bring a change of clothes and a towel for the water play areas.

http://www.maximilianpark.de/  (50 mins from Bielefeld)

http://www.vier-jahreszeiten-park.de/ (30 mins from Bielefeld)