Peter and I spent the month of October 2013 in Berlin, a very bike-friendly city. Soon after we arrived, we identified MietRadMitte as the first bike rental shop to try to find our bikes for the month. The shop’s website advertised Gazelles for rent with a slogan that would translate as “Elegance on two wheels.” We imagined riding around town on swanky black Gazelles like so many other Berliners.
When we arrived at the small basement-level shop, we were presented with maroon-colored Gazelles for us to rent at a reasonable price. Yet, these maroon Gazelles were not of the same high-quality standard as the ubiquitous black Gazelles. The rental bikes were not as solid, well-built or smooth-riding as one would expect from the Gazelle brand, but they still served their purpose as our main means of transportation and were no embarrassment to ride. The fact that they were used to the point of being a bit rickety just added some character - like a pair of well-worn jeans.
I commuted from our sublet apartment in Friederichshain to my daily German class at the Goethe Institut in Mitte (center of the city), about three miles away. Dutch bikes and my Fjallraven backpack, which I found to be a common item in Berlin, allowed us to better blend into the city’s population and experience the Berliner everyday.
After five weeks in the saddle of the maroon Gazelle, it was bittersweet to say "tschüss."