Do you have Crowded house in your head after reading the title?
On Saturday evening we headed towards Neukölln in the south east of Berlin. This area is one that I sadly haven’t had a lot of experience with and in fact much of the time I hear expats talk about the district as though it is so far off the map that they refuse to board the U8.
There was an ice cream shop that we had seen reviewed last summer and hadn’t had much luck up until now with their opening hours. On this sunny Saturday afternoon we got there before the doors were closed for the day. I tried two new flavours; Milk and honey and Creme caramel. With our ice creams in hand we walked along the canal which was littered with bodies on picnic blankets with beer bottles.
Our walk took us further and we found ourselves in Kreuzberg in the same neighbourhood we had been standing in on May 1st just a few days prior, but the streets before us looked a completely new shade without the throngs of bodies, food vendors and stages in the middle of busy roads.
After a quick dinner we walked down to Görlitzer park. The serene, lazy afternoon nature of the canal banks we had sat among just an hour earlier seemed so far away as we walked into the chaotic park of Görli. ‘Want some grass?’ was an invitation we walked past at least three times before we sat down on a couple of steps to watch the fascinating groups of people before us.
A large family of mohawked punk rockers were off to one side grilling, while who I assume was the mother was practicing her hand at fire baton swinging within inches of her toddler (also sporting a Mohawk).
A toddler to our left was entertained and babysat simultaneously by his protective dog, and countless groups were taking to the grass with their portable grills and plumes of smoke rose in occasional tornados across the park ground.
As we walked on we conversed at length yet again about the unique distinction which still boggles me as I walk from district to neighbouring district throughout Berlin. It is a conversation I have had so many times before yet it still surprises and fascinates me to witness the diversity of the culture, the people, streets, art, and social behaviour.
The next day we lay in another park in our family thick neighbourhood of Prenzlauerberg to witness these aspects in a new light once again. The grills were out again, but there were also toddlers birthday parties with balloons and streamers temporarily set up in vendor like arrangements at the sides of the park. There were a lot more couples and parents with kids than large crowds laying about in the sunshine.
The parks are alive at the moment. If you're in Berlin make it your mission to do as the locals are doing in this season and grab a picnic blanket and head down to the closest park.