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Day at the Races

October 11, 2010

We took advantage of a recent sunny sunday by going on a bike ride to Hoppegarten, a community bordering Berlin made famous by its horse race track. From the S-Bahn stop Frankfurter Allee we rode straight east for about an hour – fascinated as Plattenbauten gave way to some countryside scenery. We arrived just in time for a nice couple to hand us two free tickets. So we splurged on a program complete with detailed information on the art of betting, stats about each racing horse as well as the name and weight of each jockey.

Unlike race tracks in America (which I understand can be quite sleazy), Hoppegarten is a polished venue filled with men in nice suits and women in big hats. There is a grandstand complete with flower-laden balconies, white tablecloths and champagne glasses for folks like this dapper fellow. In the accompanying lounge, bets can be placed on races which are taking place all around the world – at Longchamp in France and Abu Dhabi in the UAE.

There are also some less glamorous bleachers for the more common folk. Plus a big band of grass which is occupied by families on blankets. You can bring your own drinks and food so the atmosphere here is that of one huge communal picnic.

Even the youngest, though not legally allowed to gamble, participate and have their dads place 1 Euro bets on a horse of their careful choosing.

At the end of the day, all the bets have been made, all the wine has been drunk, all the picnics have been eaten, and I hope everyone’s losses are within a bearable limit and maybe someone has won big.

Before our ride home trough the dusk we strengthened our spirits with some surprisingly tasty Radeberger Bitter. I don’t really like their beer but this Bitter has a nice taste of cinnamon and cloves like the Czeck Becherovka. Perfect booster as the days are getting shorter and colder.

The next day or racing will take place on April 17th 2011.

Rennbahn Hoppegarten GmbH & Co. KG
Goetheallee 1
15366 Hoppegarten 

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