Grand Tour de Öffentliche Verkehrsmittel Stage 16/59 – Cold Cosmonaut

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Date14.02.2020
Strava Activityhttps://www.strava.com/activities/3098983605
BikeBolt
Distance in km56.0
Elevation in m138
Amount of newly ridden kms in Berlin from wandrer.earth20.4
Blood glucose values throughout Stage 16 of the Grand Tour de Öffentliche Verkehrsmittel

Storm Sabine had finally blown over after battering Berlin with strong winds for the previous five days. Berlin was not as badly hit as other areas but I didn’t fancy the idea of cycling outdoors for hours in gale force winds. It was still pretty cold, grey and windy for today’s Stage so I chose to complete one of the shorter stages heading out to Ahrensfelde and back. I started the Stage a few hours later than usual so I didn’t reduce any bolus insulin for breakfast. But once I was preparing to head off, I noticed that my blood glucose was trending downwards so I ate an energy bar in order to reverse that trend.

The very cool VWS building near Tiergarten

The first public transport route of the stage was the M8 tram starting at the central train station, Hauptbahnhof, and ending at Ahrensfelde. In the time of East Berlin, trams were chosen as the main mode of public transportation at street level; while West Berlin chose to use buses. After reunification, some of the tram routes were extended (slightly) westwards past where the Berlin Wall stood and districts of West Berlin. The first section of the M8 tram route is an example of this where all of the tram sections up along Invalidenstraße until Nordbahnhof were not used before reunification.

The Nordbahnhof station

Cycling along Invalidenstraße can be pretty sketchy as there are parked cars, single lane traffic, plus – of course – the trams to deal with. Some parts do have a dedicated bike lane but there are long sections where you have to cycle on the road. I was following an M8 tram on Invalidenstraße and it certainly didn’t feel safe cycling between a moving tram and the parked cars so I gave the tram (and it’s passengers) plenty of leeway. 

Rosenthaler Platz

After the adventures of Invalidenstraße, the M8 tram route passed over Rosenthaler Platz and on Torstraße, which is another obstacle course for cyclists. Torstraße is heavily trafficked without dedicated cycle lanes so you have to be extra alert to all the cars weaving past. At least this street has two lanes for traffic, so I could take the right lane to prevent cars from overtaking too closely. I’ll give Mitte some credit for using Linienstraße which runs parallel to Torstraße as a bike street (Fahrradstraße) in order to get cyclists off Torstraße. However, cars can still access Linienstraße (especially to park) which means that some cars (especially taxis) use the dedicated bike street as a shortcut. 

Rainbow Plattenbau in Lichtenberg

Finally I got to the dedicated bike paths of Mollstraße and Landsberger Allee and the cycling was much better. Getting to Landsberger Allee meant that I was now in the heart of former East Berlin and in the land of Plattenbau (the prefabricated concrete buildings that former communist countries were known for). I personally like the regularity of these buildings especially when they are painted with patterns or just made more colourful. 

Colourful highrise building typical of Marzahn

A nice thing about the M8 tram route is that it doesn’t stick to the big streets, it passes directly into housing areas so that it can service the people residing there. The next street – Allee der Kosmonauten – has my favourite street name in Berlin! As a child, I wanted to be an astronaut, so a whole Avenue dedicated to cosmonauts is just wonderful. There is also a historic windmill for the cosmonauts before the avenue turns into Raoul Wallenberg Straße. 

Marzahner Mühle/Marzahn Mill

The final stretch of the M8 tram between Marzahn and Ahrensfelde passes through dedicated tram tracks in between residential areas. There is also a multi-use bike path right next to the tracks which was very useful – although you have to keep an eye out for pedestrians crossing! I followed this bike path until the end of the M8 route at the tram terminus right at the end of the Berlin section of Ahrensfelde. 

The Ahrensfelde tram terminus for both the M8 and 16 trams

I was pretty cold and wet at this point as it had started raining when I was on Allee der Kosmonauten. I needed a nice coffee break and found a coffee machine in a Netto supermarket where I could drink my coffee inside – such luxuries! I tried to dry my gloves as they were particularly wet and made my hands even colder. This didn’t work so I decided to do the rest of the ride without gloves. This turned out to – eventually – be a good decision. I did have to keep blowing on my hands when waiting at traffic lights but it was bearable.

Marzahn Plattenbau

The next route was the tram 16 route starting at the tram terminus at Ahrensfelde and ending at Scharnweberstraße in Friedrichshain. The initial part of the 16 route used the same tracks as the M8 route so it was a case of cycling on the same paths as before. The routes of the 16 and M8 trams differ at the point of Allee der Kosmonauten where sadly I had to cycle down the Marzahner Promenade instead.

Sporthotel Hohenschönhausen

The tram 16 route then heads down Landsberger Allee through the huge DIY shopping centre including the Lichtenberg branch of IKEA and Höffner. The tram then heads towards Konrad Wolf Straße where I was greeted by the sight of the rundown Sporthotel. This was a hotel used by the athletes of the GDR – a lot of doping was done in this hotel! The sports complex including the athletics track is still used today but the hotel has been left untouched. You can read a nice write up with pictures of the interior here

Colourful Plattenbau on Landsberger Allee

The 16 tram route then heads south towards Friedrichshain along Möllendorffstraße where the impressive Rathaus (Town Hall) Lichtenberg greets you. I passed under the Ringbahn tracks at Frankfurter Allee before turning onto Scharnweberstraße where the 16 tram route ends. 

Rathaus Lichtenberg/Lichtenberg Town Hall

The final public transport route of today’s stage was the 300 bus route, a very recent addition to Berlin’s public transport, which starts at Warschauer Straße and ends at the Philharmonie in Tiergarten. The 300 bus route starts just opposite one of the new malls in Berlin, the East Side Mall, and heads on Mühlenstraße along which the famous East Side Gallery runs. 

East Side Gallery with it’s famous artwork on the former Berlin Wall

The 300 bus route takes a detour towards Alexanderplatz before passing the central Berlin town hall, the Rotes Rathaus. Since I was now in tourist central, I added teenage boys riding scooters to my list of things to be aware of. I headed on Unter den Linden towards the Brandenburg Gate where the bus route takes a left turn on Glinkastraße. The route continues down Wilhelmstraße past the Embassy of the Czech Republic until Leipziger Straße. This indicated the final stretch of the 300 bus route as all that was left was to cycle through Potsdamer Platz until the Philharmonie which was the end of the 300 line.

Rotes Rathaus/Red Town Hall – the main Town Hall of Berlin

Despite being a cold and grey day, this turned out to be an enjoyable stage especially seeing the different ways many Plattenbau buildings are decorated. My blood sugar was also stable throughout the ride and I didn’t have to inject insulin or eat any more energy bars after the one before I headed out. Tomorrow the sun should be out so I plan on doing a longer stage to make the most of that.

Potsdamer Platz and the Philarmonie
The % distance I cycled in each district during Stage 16 of the Grand Tour de Öffentliche Verkehrsmittel

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