Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ich Liebe Call-A-Bike


When I first moved to Munich, a friend of mine generously announced 'I brought you my Mom's old Bike from Austria, so you can use it around the city' I looked at him like he had lost his mind. I grew up in Los Angeles, who the f*ck rides a bike?

"Oh Thanks, but, I don't ride bicycles"

He encouraged me to take it anyway. I soon noticed that almost half the sidewalks were elevated bicycle paths (usually when some Münchner was aggressively ringing their bell like mad for me to get out of the way, while practically running me over). It dawned on me that if you didn't have to embark on a life-or-death battle on the street with cars, that maybe riding a bike did make sense. And unlike San Francisco (where I had moved from) Munich was flat, flat, flat.

I decided to give it a try. Oh Mein Gott! Who knew! Riding a bike! What a revelation; riding my bike through the English Garden, rolling past the street musicians past Odeonsplatz, woozily departing from the Biergarten. I love f*cking-fahrraden!

Fast forward thirteen years and "I don't ride bikes" has become:

"I don't ride bikes in the snow"

or the rain. Which brings me to my point about Call-a-Bike. As much as I like bike riding through the city, I've found I have a bad touch with bikes; namely I lose them. How do you lose a bike? Easy, you're at the Biergarten, it starts to rain, or hail - HARD - and you decide 'hmm, better take the U-bahn instead'. You don't use the bike for a few days and when you go to get it out of the Hof, it's not left it somewhere...but where? I accidentally left my last bike on Weissenbergerstr. in front of the Fielmann for over a year!

Enter Call-a-Bike. Hop on, hop off, leave it wherever you like. I use the iphone app to tell me where the closest one is, usually no further than around the corner. No annoying stations to park it at, I can leave it wherever I want. Now that it is Bundesweit I can pick one up in Hamburg, Berlin and Karlsruhe, which I did easily last summer while traveling. Fahrräder at your fingertips!

To top it off, they now offer a Jahrespauschal. Pay €48 for the year and any trip less than 30 minutes is free. I went through my bills and all my trips averaged about that. What a deal!

Ladencafé Marais

Marais window
A couple of weekends ago I set off on my Call-a-Bike to go checkout 'Open Westend'An open studio day showcasing 'The Kreuzberg of Munich'. Unfortunately I had my timing wrong and was too early and none of the Ateliers or spaces were open to the public before I had some other things to take care of.


Fortunately, I decided to spend the morning at Marais instead. The day was gorgeous and sunny and Westend was definitely hopping. Lots of sidewalk cafés, people on the street and on their bikes. One of my first apartments in Munich was a sublet in Westend on Kazmairstrasse. This was about 12 years ago and it was DEAD out there. Not any more. I found myself thinking 'Hmm, I could live out here'. I hope to review a lot of the gems in the neighborhood in forthcoming posts, but for now let's talk about Marais.


Many of you have probably long since heard of it and been there. I even mentioned it in my Design*Sponge Munich City Guide. It is a really charming café which used to be an old housewares store. The owners cleverly left the interior intact, wooden apothecary style shelves and all, and organized the café around it. Delicious homemade cakes, along with out of this world jam (I could have eaten my apricot jam by the spoonful) paninis, pastas and really good coffee are the order of the day. My cappuccino was one of the best I have had in years, really.

Marais Coffee

Despite it being charming and, let's face it, pretty hip, the vibe is low-key and unpretentious. The clientele was a mix of groups of younger people meeting for brunch, families, couples and older folks. It was comfortable and fun without feeling to scene-y.

Little nick-knacks, candies and items like jewelery are also for sale which makes the place also a feast for the eyes.

The next time I draw a blank on where to go for brunch, I will make sure not to forget Marais!

Ladencafé Marais
Parkstrasse 2
80339 München
dienstag bis samstag 8.00 - 20.00
sonntag 10.00 - 18.00
montag ruhetag