Day Trips, Cafes and Restaurants, Events, Living in Berlin, Parks & Neighborhoods

Things to do on a fine spring day

That's the smell of huge meat being barbecued wafting through the air.

That's the smell of huge meat being barbecued wafting through the air.

Summer in Alberta doesn't really start until the middle of August. I lived there for 22 years, and I should know. May and June, there is still a risk of snow. July, it rains every day. It's not until August that you finally feel like you can safely leave the house without a jacket or umbrella, and that's if the wet weather hasn't made going outside a swarming hell of mosquitos and biting flies.

It wasn't until I moved to Europe that I finally understood what spring is like in normal parts of the world. For my whole life, I abhored spring because it generally meant a series of starts and stops where you *think* it's getting nicer only to get a blizzard the next day. I just didn't trust spring as a season.

[In fact, when I was in grade 2 we had to write a short story about spring and I wrote about springs (the coils that make things bounce) instead of the season. It just never occurred to me that I should write about green grass and new flowers considering I had never seen spring in action...]

We've definitely been making the most of it.

1. EAT DELICIOUS FOOD: We recently went for dinner at Drei Schwestern ("Three Sisters") in Kreuzberg, just around the corner from our apartment. Incidentally, the head chef is the husband of one of my coworkers. Amazing food, beautiful location, and very reasonable prices. 

I'm not a foodie blogger so I'm not sure by what standards you can judge a meal to be fantastic, but I give Drei Schwestern two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Die Drei Schwestern (The Three Sisters) Restaurant in Mariannen Kiez, Kreuzberg.

Die Drei Schwestern (The Three Sisters) Restaurant in Mariannen Kiez, Kreuzberg.

I had chicken breast with vanilla buckwheat polenta and it was like food from the gods.

I had chicken breast with vanilla buckwheat polenta and it was like food from the gods.

2. THE OPEN AIR CINEMA: I suggest Freiluftkino Kreuzberg at the Art Quarter near Mariannenplatz. Tickets are only 6 euros. This night we saw Kriegerin (Combat Girls).

Tip: come early (30 mins) to score a thick wool blanket and the best spot. Folding beach chairs are provided and half the fun is watching other people struggle to put them together after you're comfortably seated. Bring your own candy, food, beer, and extra blankets for a super cozy evening.

Kreuzberg Freiluftkino (open air cinema)

Kreuzberg Freiluftkino (open air cinema)

3. LOUNGE NEXT TO A BODY OF WATER: I highly recommend a visit to Schlachtensee, a 15 minute ride on the train to the southwest 'burbs of Berlin. There are over 20 swimming lakes within the Berlin area. This is the second most popular one, and it's obvious why. It's absolutely stunning. It is difficult to imagine a more scenic and lovely place to relax.

Score a good spot in the sun at the Schlachtensee.

Score a good spot in the sun at the Schlachtensee.

4a. AVOID BAD FESTIVALS...

Myfest, also known as annoying the hell out of Stephanie-fest.

Myfest, also known as annoying the hell out of Stephanie-fest.

4b ...AND ATTEND GOOD ONES

Some people see Myfest (May 1st - pictured above) in Kreuzberg as the ultimate street party. I see it as my ultimate 7th circle of hell on earth. Sweaty drunk people crammed together in the sweltering heat? Broken glass and the stench of pee? Ear-pounding electronic music that you can't escape from? The very thought turns my stomach.

Call me elitist but I much rather prefer cultural street fests like the World Carnival near Hallesches Tor. Probably had the most delicious and refreshing drink "African Dream" served out of a hollowed-out rhino skull. Maybe not the rhino skull bit, but it was served from a very authentic looking vat. The variety of food here was incredible. If we hadn't had bulgur burgers waiting for us at home, I probably would have gone for the Hungarian Kringle. 

Much more scenic and peaceful than Myfest. Also with tastier food and better drinks.

Much more scenic and peaceful than Myfest. Also with tastier food and better drinks.

5. GET YERSELF SOME TASTY TREATS: Herr nilsson not only has the coolest website for a candy store, but on their facebook page there's usually a link to a 20% off bulk candy coupon! AMAZING RIGHT? I definitely invented an excuse to leave work early on Friday so I could get a seriously obscene amount of bulk candy. Those from Scandinavian countries will understand the importance of Fredag Slik, but I believe a healthy portion of the population of any civilized country will agree that the ideal way to spend a warm Friday evening includes at least some kind of sugar high.

6. DO SOMETHING EXERCISE-ISH! I took a refresher course last Monday for rope climbing at the t-hall. This is in preparation for lead-climbing lessons which we plan to take... soon. When I get a harness. It is fun and I feel like a graceful, hairless monkey when I reach the top. I bet that you can't beat the sweat of hauling your wintery ass up a 40 foot wall. To offset all those burnt calories, go eat a Sudanese Falafel from Sahara, on the corner of Weserstr. and Reuterstr. in Neukölln.