As the winter chill begins to thaw, Berliners emerge in droves from hibernation to soak up every glorious ray of sunshine, from sunrise at 5am to sunset at 9.30pm.
The parks are crowded with picnickers and “beach bars” line the Spree River. Patrons relaxing in deck chairs on the sand, sipping beverages under beach umbrellas.
People flock to the lakes to swim, barbecue, play volleyball, badminton or boules and relax in the sunshine.
Sunday in Mauerpark Berlin
It was to Mauerpark we headed one sunny Sunday to experience some local Berlin culture and drink in the relaxed, friendly atmosphere.
Located in Prenzlauer Berg, the name translates to “Wall Park” and previously formed part of the “death strip” dividing east and west Berlin. A strip of the former wall remains and is a popular spot for graffitti artists.
The “Flohmarkt” (flea markets) are bustling hive of activity, with an eclectic mix of stallholders selling everything from nick-nacks and clothing, antiques and furniture, to vinyl records and retro goods.
We enjoyed a lazy Sunday morning browsing through the stalls and haggling for the odd bargain.
The aroma of local delicacies- currywurst, falafel, mackerel, freshly baked pretzels and more wafts through the markets from the rows of street food vendors. Tables are packed with diners taking a break from their morning bargain hunt.
In the adjacent park, hundreds of picnickers fire up the disposable barbecues available at every grocery store. Similar to our disposable foil baking trays, the bottom is lined with heat beads, with a grill on top. Simply cook your sausages, enjoy your picnic, then throw away the mess.
Games of volleyball, basketball, badminton and boules are hotly contested, with anyone welcome to join in.
Visitors throw their picnic blankets on the hill to laze away the afternoon, enjoying the free entertainment from musicians, jugglers, mime artists and comedians busking their talents.
The highlight of the day comes at 3pm with “Bearpit Karaoke”. Up to two thousand spectators cram the stone steps of the amphitheatre to take advantage of what has become a local cultural icon. Anyone can sing, from 11 year old kids to the elderly gent whose rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” sung in German has become a weekly act.
Entrepreneurial vendors carry crates of beer and soft drink to and from the local supermarket, providing the audience with a ready supply of refreshment, collecting the empties to take advantage of the bottle return.
Despite what we would consider “lax’ liquor laws – beer is readily available in aisle six of the supermarket at approximately 90 cents a bottle- there are no evident problems. Beer is flowing freely, yet nobody is obviously drunk or obnoxious.
The atmosphere is fun and supportive, everyone cheering, laughing and having a general good time relaxing on a Sunny summer afternoon in Berlin.
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