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This Stage would tackle eight bus routes that run through the southwest districts of Berlin. I would also meet up with Nick for his next attempt at completing a Stage of the Grand Tour de Öffentliche Verkehrsmittel. This is proving rather difficult for him after a non-start in Stage 43, chaingate in Stage 44 and then tubegate in Stage 50, so keep your fingers crossed for him!
We arranged to meet up at Platz der Luftbrücke (Square of the Air Lift) as this was a convenient place for the both of us on the way to Hermannstraße for the start of the first bus route (the M44). Before heading out the door, I reduced my bolus and basal insulin and then cycled along the Landwehrkanal (Land Army Canal) towards Platz der Luftbrücke.
I was a little early so I explored the grounds of Tempelhof Airport. This airport was closed in 2008 after being in use for around 85 years! It was also the centre of the Berlin Airlift (commemorated by the place name and a monument) in 1948. The airfield is now a public park and it’s lots of fun to cycle on the runways and taxiing pathways that airplanes used.
On many of the airport buildings, there are many eagle statues – the eagle being a historic symbol of Prussia and then Germany. The Nazis also created a specific eagle and erected many of these in Berlin including Tempelhof Airport. A particularly large eagle was built on top of the main building of Tempelhof Airport, this was taken down by the American forces and taken to the West Point Military Academy. The head was returned in 1985 and placed in front of Tempelhof Airport in “Eagle Square” where it is majestically perched.
Once Nick showed up – partial success! – we cycled to Hermannstraße for the start of the short M44 bus route. We left Neukölln and headed into central Britz, this was full of people out and about shopping on the main street. Once we got close to the Britzer Garten (Britz Garden), I spotted the magnificent Britzer Mühle (Britz Mill). The final stop of the bus route was in the neighbouring district of Buckow right next to the border between Berlin and Brandenburg.
In fact, we used the Berliner Mauerweg (Berlin Wall Trail) to cycle to the start of the next bus route – the 179. This bus route initially passed through some nice quiet back roads before getting to the main Mariendorfer Damm road. Thankfully, we didn’t have far to cycle on this road as the final stop was at Forddamm which is near the Alt-Mariendorf U-Bahn station on the U6 that I tackled in Stage 29.
We cycled around the village green of Mariendorf for the start of the M77 bus route. Before heading along this route, it was time to refuel. My blood glucose was a little on the high side but I still ate an energy bar without injecting any bolus insulin to see if the cycling would balance out the carbs of the food.
The M77 bus route headed along Großbeerenstraße (Large Berries Street) towards Marienfelde and even looped around the S-Bahn station of Marienfelde. Once reaching Marienfelde, the final stop was at Waldsassener Straße which was also the final stop of the M82 bus route that Nick also joined for during Stage 44 before chaingate hit.
The next bus route – the 112 – started at Nahmitzer Damm, the main road that we had just turned off. So we cycled back there and discovered a flock of sheep huddled together to get out of the sun. The poor sheep must have been really warm because of their wool but huddling together penguin style was still preferable to standing in the sun!
The 112 bus route headed out of Marienfelde and into Lichterfelde. We crossed the Teltowkanal (Teltow Canal) using the Eugen-Kleine-Brücke (Eugen-Kleine-Bridge). Nick was feeling a bit peckish so we stopped so that he could have a bite to eat and I would take a picture of the Heizkraftwerk Lichterfelde (Lichterfelde Thermal Power Station). Something on the water caught my eye and it was a snake! A grass snake was swimming near the banks of the canal looking for food (and probably cooling itself too) and then crossed the canal. A very graceful swimmer too.
After Lichterfelde, we crossed through the Swiss Quarter and into Zehlendorf before heading in the direction of Nikolassee. The final stretch along Spanische Allee (Spanish Avenue) passed by some lovely houses. The area near the Nikolassee S-Bahn Station – the final stop of the 112 route – was pretty cobbled. I had reconned this during Stage 49 so I knew that some rough cobbles were imminent – I warned Nick as well to avoid any potential mechanical issues as in Tubegate!
With the 112 bus route complete, we decided for the stereotypical cyclist break – coffee and cake! We found a Café nearby and ordered a slice of a yummy homemade chocolate almond cake plus coffees. My blood glucose was still on the high side so I injected one unit of bolus insulin for the cake and to help my body use the glucose flowing around my blood vessels.
After this stop, we walked through the Nikolassee station for the start of the next bus route. This was the 312 bus route which is a circular route operating during summer months to take people from the Nikolassee station towards the Strandbad Wannsee (Wannsee Open Air Lido). This is a hugely popular lakeside swimming resort that was opened in 1907! The weather during the Stage was not optimal swimming weather so the buses and the area around the Strandbad were pretty deserted.
Once we returned to the Nikolassee S-Bahn station, we started on the N18 bus route. This is a night bus route that shuttles passengers between Nikolassee and central Zehlendorf. We cycled along Spanische Allee and Potsdamer Straße just as earlier for the 112 bus route. The final stop of the N18 bus route was opposite the Zehlendorfer Eiche (Zehlendorf Oak) in downtown Zehlendorf.
From Zehlendorf, we cycled northwards towards Rathaus Steglitz (Steglitz Town Hall) for the next bus route which was the circular 386 bus route. This short bus route headed into Lichterfelde towards the Benjamin-Franklin-Campus, one of the campuses of the Charité – the large university hospital based in Berlin. A 386 bus set off at the same time as we did from Rathaus Steglitz so it was a bit of a race to see if we were quicker than the bus. It was a close call but I think Nick and I prevailed!
The final bus route of this Stage started near the Blissestraße U-Bahn station in Wilmersdorf. So Nick and I cycled through some lovely streets in Steglitz and Friedenau to get there. Once we reached the start, my blood glucose was too high for my liking so we stopped so I could inject one unit of bolus insulin.
After the injection pitstop, we followed the 310 bus from Wilmersdorf into Schmargendorf. The 310 bus passed the impressive Rathaus Schmargendorf (Schmargendorf Town Hall) and here we could see some pretty grey clouds bearing towards us. It was not exactly clear whether we would get caught in the rain or not despite this being the tail end of the Stage.
From Schmargendorf, we followed the 310 bus along Paulsborner Straße where there are plenty of impressive houses. We reached Adenauerplatz, meaning we were near the end of the 310 route. The final stop was just further north at the Charlottenburg S-Bahn station.
With that, Nick successfully completed all eight bus routes of this Stage! We parted ways at Bismarckstraße, however there was a sting in the tail as he got another rear wheel puncture at Turmstraße. Really tough luck, but he got back home using the U-Bahn – an improvement from walking 20 km in Stage 50.