Ringing in Spring: Grilling Out in Berlin’s Parks
It’s time to explore two of Berlin’s many parks! In a city of four million people, parks offer a “backyard“ to those of us living in apartments. Sharing the park with many people allows for a lot of interesting observations!
I haven’t been leaving Berlin and Brandenburg much during my stay, but the change from winter to spring last week sure makes me feel like I’m in another city! Springtime and summer in Berlin means outdoor festivals, dancing and long leisurely bike rides through the city.
It also means something very integral to German culture: Grilling! In Berlin, scores of young people hit the parks and fire up their portable grills with their friends. Two of the most popular parks are Mauerpark. This park was named after the Berlin Wall, or “Mauer” in German. This famous, historical wall used to divide the area into East and West Berlin. The other famous park is the Volkspark in Friedrichshain, which is a neighborhood in Berlin. The title of this second park literally means “the people’s park”. I went around these parks this past week to experience the fun and excitement or everyone taking part in the collective celebration of springtime.
Local Time: 6:00 pm
Time Zone: Central European Time (+6 Eastern U.S. Time)
Location (Latitude, Longitude): 52.5233° N, 13.4127° E
How far did I travel this week?
I traveled about 14 kilometers from my apartment in Wedding to the Volkspark roundtrip, and about 8 kilometers round trip to Mauerpark.
How far have I traveled on my journey so far?
Aside from my trip to Prague, I have stayed firmly planted in the Berlin area. There is already so much to do here, I don’t feel a need to leave right now!
How did I get around this week?
I’ve been taking my bicycle around as much as possible, trying to enjoy the beautiful weather!
What was the most interesting place I visited this week?
It was wonderful to see both the Volkspark and the Mauerpark bustling with people. On Sunday, I was at the Mauerpark, where there is a flea market and karaoke available for tourists and native Berliners alike. It is normally very crowded at the flea market, so I decided to sit with my friends on the hill overlooking the park to relax.
In front of us there was an exciting basketball match going on, jugglers practicing their craft and a man with an electric guitar and stereo playing and singing for by-passers. We enjoyed being outside so much that we made plans to grill the next day!
On Monday, the weather was even warmer and we knew Volkspark would be a great place to grill. Once again it was very crowded and it was a bit difficult to find a nice spot to sit. However, we did find one and sat there for hours, chatting and soaking up the Vitamin D, which comes from the sun’s rays, that we had been missing out on all winter.
Other travel news:
This week in Berlin has been busy with balancing the nice weather with all the testing that’s coming up at our school! I’m helping 10th graders prepare for their English tests. In Germany, students can choose to stop going to school after 10th grade to do an apprenticeship. If you do well on your tests, you also have the option to continue with school in order to study at a university. Either way, the tests are difficult for many students. Therefore, I’m busy trying to help make sure the students are comfortable with their English skills!
Weather Tally (enter the # of days for each weather type):
Partly cloudy: 2
Snowy: 0 (finally!)
What is the air temperature right now?
15º Celsius (59º Fahrenheit)
How was the weather this week?
The weather was wonderful. I didn’t want to ride on any subway trains because I wanted to enjoy the sunshine all week!
What animals did I see this week?
The birds in Berlin and Brandenburg have really come out in the warm weather. While walking in Birkenwerder the other day, I heard a bird calling out above me and saw it was a Blue Jay. It reminds me of how similar the wildlife is to my home in Minnesota.
What was the coolest thing I saw in nature this week?
I will have to say the sunshine was the coolest thing I saw this week! If you can’t tell, I’m just so excited to be able to go out without four layers and snow boots!
What languages are spoken here?
It never ceases to amaze me how many different languages I hear on a daily basis. I would have to guess I hear at least two languages other than English and German per day. I was happy the other day to talk to some tourists in English, too.
I would like to take this opportunity to say how thankful I am for the Euro. The Euro is the currency used throughout much of Western Europe. I love having the ability to travel from country to country and not lose money exchanging my currency. It’s no wonder that the Euro features a picture of Europe, for without it the European economy would be much more divided.
How much does a bottle of water cost?
I’m still enjoying my clean tap Berlin tap water, but in an emergency it’s just 60 cents from Aldi. Do you guys have an Aldi supermarket in your area?
What was the best meal this week?
The best meal this week was off the grill at Volkspark, hands down! Steak, garlic bread and cheese was the perfect outdoor meal combination.
What music did I listen to this week?
This week I heard a lot of street musicians playing for the public.
What activity was the most fun this week?
Aside from hanging out in the park, I got to see a funny video made by 12th grade students about their trip to Ireland and heard some great presentations from 9th grade students in English.
What did I read this week?
I get a free magazine from my gym, and the cover story was about Justin Bieber hoping Anne Frank would have been a “Belieber.” There was a bit of an uproar about that here in Germany, so it was interesting to read that perspective on the story. Did you also hear about this news story?
What games or sports did I play this week?
Even though it was crowded at Volkspark, we still found some space to throw around a football. Unfortunately, the ball went over my head a few times and ended up in the middle of a nearby BMX mini-course, but everyone here’s used to the cramped space so it wasn’t too much of a problem!