Bowled over by Berlin's Kegelbahnen
There's an unexpected sporting opportunity hidden away in a surprising number of Berlin's bars and restaurants: nine-pin bowling alleys, or Kegelbahnen.
The game itself is similar to the American ten-pin version, albeit slightly harder to play. (Sure - there's one less pin to knock down, but the bowls are smaller and lack finger holes).
A common attraction in Berlin's 1920s entertainment venues, bowling lanes remained (dwindlingly) popular for decades afterwards, often tucked inconspicuously into the basements of local pubs.
Nowadays, these gloriously retro Kegelbahnen are making a comeback, rediscovered by a new generation of Berliners.
Think you'd enjoy a little exercise with your beer? Roll on up.
Once a rather musty gathering place for Wedding's more senior citizens, in recent years this '50s gem has transformed itself into one of the district's hipper creative hangouts.
Live music, art shows and, of course, that all-important original bowling alley all add up to a rollicking, all-round entertainment experience.
Kugelbahn: Grüntaler Straße 51, 13359 Berlin
Dating from 1911, the bowling alley in this Prenzlauer Berg boozer is easily Berlin's oldest - so much so that you'll need to manually set up the skittles each time you knock 'em down.
It's a small price to pay, though, for a gaming session that oozes old-fashioned appeal, from the thoughtfully provided finger-moistening sponge to the ancient pins themselves.
(Extra tip: even if you're not tempted by the Kegelbahn, the Bornholmer Hütte is well worth a visit for its gritty, traditional Berlin ambience).
Bornholmer Hütte: Bornholmer Straße 89, 10439 Berlin
The vintage vibe at this long-established Kreuzberg bar/cafe is complemented by a basement bowling alley that's the real, late '60s deal.
Head downstairs for one of Berlin's most charismatic old-time Kegelbahnen: louche, Scandinavian looks coupled with temperamental retro-technology.
Tante Lisbeth: Muskauer Straße 49, 10997 Berlin
There's little better than a perfect pizza - except, perhaps, the opportunity to bowl while you binge.
Indulge in both at Kreuzberg's Figl, a cosy, revamped ex-Kneipe that's not only consistently rated as one of Berlin's very best pizza joints, but still boasts an old-school Kegelbahn. Fantastico!
Gasthaus Figl: Urbanstraße 47, 10967 Berlin
Tegel's Greenwich Promenade is time-warp Berlin - a lakeside esplanade that reached the height of its popularity in the '70s.
And dominating the walkway is Seeterassen, a dining and entertainment venue exuding a faded (though verging on rather fabulous) quasi-modernist charm.
Enjoy a few games in its three-lane bowling alley before heading off for ice-cream and a jaunt round the lake in a pedallo.
Tegeler Seeterrassen: Wilkestraße 1, 13507 Berlin
Other Berlin nine-pin bowling alleys
This family-run Italian restaurant gains consistent praise for food and service: its bowling alley provides yet another reason to visit.
Austrian fare and in-house bowling just off Charlottenburg's Schloßstraße.
This boozer with bowling is what Wedding's Kugelbahn (see above) used to be: a no nonsense, no frills local.Scroll