Berlin, summertime. The city’s famous green spaces burst with people and life - children falling off swings, ice-cream dribbling down legs, dogs rolling on their backs. The parks are the place to be. There are impromptu techno parties and Turkish families hosting elaborate picnics that run late in to the night. And there are people sunbathing all day long, in their swimmers, just roasting in the grass. As an Australian, my summertimes were always spent by the water. But in Northern Europe, the action happens in the parks.
OK so I live south-side, borderline ghetto, Neukölln deep. Most of the time it’s fine and I don’t really notice the trashed up streets, overwhelming Turkish population or boarded windows. Thankfully I don’t live on the main drags Sonnenallee or Karl-Marx Straße with their bustling pedestrians, honking cars and screaming shisha bars. Those streets drive me mad, too many people, too much going on. My place, my little corner of the world is tucked away, parallel to the action in a neat little “kiez” or neighbourhood - close enough to the Neukölln buzz but still surprisingly quiet. Plus it’s cheaper down here, on the southern part of Weserstr. But really the coolest thing about this hood is the local characters. There are several, each with their own particular charisma and strangeness. They bring a certain life to the streets, a sort-of subliminal life that you don’t notice at first. It bubbles away in the corner of your eye until one day you start to catch the routine, see the local people and all the mad little intricacies of their lives…
(and yes, that’s a full moon above the rooftops)
When a friend is leaving Berlin the appropriate way to farewell them is to graffiti a wall.
ICH LIEBE DICH ANNA
As soon as the temperature creeps over 8 degrees the ice-cream parlours of the city sweep the floor, mix fresh batches and throw open their doors for ICE CREAM SEASON. I thought ice cream was big in Australia what with the hot weather and beaches and all. Berliners take it to another level. Any day the air is tinged with a hint of warmth you will find queues down the street with people spilling on to the pavement, pockets jangling with coins and mouths watering for a tasty eis kugel. There are countless shops, from your friendly neighbourhood Mr Whippy style van-version at Tempelhof to the more upmarket café-style ice-creamery Fräulein Frost in Kreuzkölln. Flavours range from peanut butter to rhubarb to honeycomb to peppermint. You name it, somewhere in Berlin will have it.
Ice cream culture is what marks the warmer months here. Add an open-air party, picnic by the canal and beers in the park and you have a Berlin summer right there. Although 2013-sommer hasn’t quite kicked off yet, the eiscafes are open and ready for business. Already it has become a daily habit of mine… it’s dangerous, delicious and it means summer is on it’s way!
Even dogs get their own ice cream (seriously – this was taken at Eispiraten in Friedricshain)
Dancing with friends during a heavy rain storm, singing Edith Piaf’s ‘Je ne regrette rien’ at the top of our voices. Hair lying in messy, wet strands on our forehead as our clothes are soaked to transparency. Nearby a group cheers on the spectacular lightening show with beers and laughter. Having pizza with the owner of a successful start-up company on the rooftop of hyper-exclusive Soho House Berlin. A new moon hanging above us and the TV tower twinkling in the background. Chasing the little boy I babysit around a Dahlem park, until we fall in a heap, laughing and covered in mud. That evening attending a fancy wine tasting event held at the Hotel De Rome on Bebelplatz. Standing on the terrace and looking out over the site of the infamous Nazi Book Burnings while rubbing shoulders with an elite crowd of diplomats and ambassadors. Partying on Gneisenaustrasse during Carneval de Kulturen and being approached by a stranger who liked my freckles and wanted to take portraits of me. Turns out he is a successful art photographer with exhibitions throughout Europe and Russia. Singing with a friend in loud, operatic voices as we ride our bikes through Kreuzberg. Working as a waitress at Yohji Yamamoto’s vernissage during Berlin Art Week. Offering Yohji himself some sushi and watching the uber-stylish art-fashion crowd as they wander about, their outfits sharp and fabulous against the cavernous white exhibition space. Drinking a beer with a stranger who passed by as I was graffitiing a wall! Spending the night dancing up a sweat at an old swimming pool complex that was badly bombed during the war but is now home to hardcore, underground techno nights.
… and on it goes. Sometimes I spin about how seriously bizarre life can be here in Berlin. You can never anticipate what is around the corner. I don’t know if it is me, or just the general madness of the place but each day has a new story to tell…
See what I mean? This ridiculous little sound byte is proof that the best thing about winter… is your friends.