|Distance in km
|Elevation in m
|Amount of newly ridden kms in Berlin from wandrer.earth
This was another Stage of the Grand Tour de Öffentliche Verkehrsmittel taking place during the Covid-19 pandemic and the first one after Angela Merkel imposed stricter rules on social interactions. Exercising outdoors alone is allowed while keeping a distance of at least 1.5m between people. Gatherings of more than two people (except families under the same roof) are banned, perhaps explaining more police presence during the Stage – but maybe I’m noticing them more since there is also less vehicular traffic.
Today’s stage will cover six public transport routes – 4 bus and 2 tram routes – and since it hadn’t warmed up significantly since Stage 24, I was back in full winter gear. I had rather optimistically packed my overshoes away. After reducing my basal and bolus insulin and a good breakfast, I headed out towards Hackescher Markt for the start of the M4 tram route. There are two M4 routes, both start at Hackescher Markt but have different end terminuses – one ends at Zingster Straße and the other at Falkenberg. Today I would be travelling on the M4 – Falkenberg route.
On the way to Hackescher Markt, I passed through the Brandenburg Gate and it was eerily empty. Even the police officers here must have been shocked at the reduction in traffic – I guess that explains the police officer taking a picture of Straße des 17. Juni which is usually packed full of vehicles at this time. The James-Simon-Park back at Hackescher Markt was also empty, normally there are people walking along the promenade since the Museum Island is nearby.
Just before I got to the Brandenburg Gate, my CGM alarm went off to alert me that my blood glucose was dropping. I checked my numbers and they were in a good range but as this was quite early on in the ride, I didn’t want my blood glucose to dip too low. So I had an energy gel before continuing on towards Hackescher Markt. This turned out to be a bit of an overreaction as my blood glucose was a little on the high side for the rest of the ride. But better safe than sorry!
The M4 route heads from Hackescher Markt over Alexanderplatz and here again the lack of people was stunning. This is normally a huge commuter hub because of all the office buildings and shopping centres in the area. The tram then heads north into Prenzlauer Berg and I was stopped by the huge memorial to Ernst Thälmann, who was a leader of the German Communist Party (KPD) and murdered by the Nazis during the Second World War. The memorial has all the hallmarks of the imposing communist-style statues.
Next up was cycling through the Weißensee district and this was quite an experience. There are no cycle paths on the main roads and you have to share the road with large trucks plus the usual traffic. I was happy that there was a reduced amount of cars because of the pandemic! There really needs to be something done here to make cycling safer.
Neu-Hohenschönhausen district was the final district for the M4 tram route. Here the pavement served as a multi-use path which, while not ideal for cycling, is at least a safer option than that provided in Weißensee. I passed by the numerous high rise blocks characteristic of this district before ending this route at the Falkenberg tram and bus terminus. Interestingly, although the terminus is labelled as “Falkenberg” it is not in the Falkenberg district of Berlin but in Neu-Hohenschönhausen.
The 294 bus route which started at the Falkenberg bus terminus and ended in the industrial area of Marzahn was next. The first section of this bus route passes through the large highrise buildings in Neu-Hohenschönhausen before crossing into Alt-Hohenschönhausen over the S-Bahn tracks using the Gehrenseebrücke. The 294 bus does a loop of the main square in Alt-Hohenschönhausen before getting into Marzahn. This final section passes through the large industrial park full of factories – there are four bus stops in this park!
After this tour of the Marzahn industrial park, I made my way back to the Falkenberg bus and tram terminus for the next public transport route. This was the M17 tram that goes all the way South towards Schöneweide. Before that though, I was feeling a bit peckish and ate a homemade energy bar at the Falkenberg bus and tram terminus.
The M17 tram route takes a different path than the 294 bus towards Alt-Hohenschönhausen and from here follows Rhinstraße into the Friedrichsfelde district. Although this is a major road, there is a good cycle path along this stretch – very much appreciated after my experiences earlier. I passed by the Tierpark which was completely deserted because of its closure to stop the spread of Covid-19.
The M17 tram then passes through Karlshorst using Treskowallee. During Stage 23, I cycled in the opposite route and found it difficult because of the construction work. Today was a little easier but I still had to weave through the pedestrians since the pavement was made into a multi-use path. After passing along the large Wuhlheide park, the M17 tram makes it to Oberschöneweide where there are still large factories that belong to the now-defunct AEG company.
The final leg of the M17 route was to cross the Spree and arrive at the Schöneweide train station. This is a large transport hub with S-Bahn tracks as well as the large bus and tram terminus. In the times of East Germany, it was also an important stop on long-distance train routes but since the 2010s most of the long-distance trains bypass the Schöneweide station.
From Schöneweide, it was a short trip to the Köllnische Heide S-Bahn station which was the start (and end) of the 341 bus route. This is a short circular bus route intended to shuttle people to the nearby industrial park. This industrial park has factories for cigarettes, coffee and baklava – I’ll pass on the cigarettes but the rest are very welcome.
The next bus route – the 365 – is also a circular route this time starting at the nearby Baumschulenweg S-Bahn station. This bus route heads out across the Spree using the newly built (in 2017) Minna Todenhagen Bridge. Minna Todenhagen seemed to be a remarkable person – in the 1920s she advocated the separation of church and state and the equal participation of women in social life.
Once across the Spree and back in the Oberschöneweide district, the 365 bus also passes through the industrial park along the Spree banks. It then makes a small loop towards the large AEG factory that the M17 tram passed by earlier before heading back to Baumschulenweg over the same bridge.
The final bus route of today’s stage, the 246 route, started at Grenzallee and to get there I navigated through the major construction works at the Grenzallee Autobahn exit. But I also discovered a nice bike path that passes underneath all the Autobahn lanes and along the Britzer Verbindungskanal (Britz Connection Canal). There was a nice little bridge to cross over the canal and into the next industrial park before getting to the starting terminus of the 246 bus route.
The 246 bus route heads westwards through Neukölln parallel to the S-Bahn tracks and passes through yet another industrial park. I passed through this park during Stage 10 but unlike that Stage – no smells of yummy biscuits. Rather disappointing.
Once the bus route makes it to the Tempelhof district, it heads South on Manteuffelstraße and passes by the Priesterweg S-Bahn station. I must say, I quite like this station – it’s got a nice touch to it and I like the font on the front of the station! Next up was Grazer Damm, with its large historical apartment complexes before heading over Grazer Platz where the impressive Nathanael Kirche (Nathaniel Church) is located.
The final stretch of the 246 route passes over the Autobahn which was remarkably empty – another good sign of Berliners keeping their distance socially. The final stop of this bus route is at Friedrich-Wilhelm-Platz which also has a large church.
With that, I could tick off all the public transport routes planned for this stage and head back home. I certainly missed not having a coffee stop during the Stage, especially as an opportunity to warm up, but better to reduce social contacts for the time being. I was rather pleased with my blood glucose during this ride. It never really dipped below 120 mg/mL which is not normal. Looking forward to the next Stage – hopefully I won’t need full winter gear again!