After a few weeks of what felt like non-stop travel, I’ve spent the last two weekends in Berlin. Berlin has transformed into a seemingly new city these past few weeks, since the grey skies that have loomed since I landed in February have moved aside for blue skies and sunshine. As someone who grew up in Buffalo, New York, I am no stranger to the urban shift that occurs when Spring suddenly arrives. Experiencing Spring in Berlin has shown me a new side of this city.
Berlin is a very social city, even when the temperature is less than desirable. Brunch in Berlin can sometimes feel like a competitive sport, since most cafés do not take reservations, so waiting in line can span over an hour. Add patio seating and sunshine and getting into a café feels like securing a spot in the Olympics. Restaurants, cafes, and bars seem to spill out into the street as people lounged in the sun. Ice cream stands have popped up on every corner. The sidewalks are filled with dogs, strollers, and couples holding hands. Hibernation is over, and Berliners are flocking to outside.
Another quintessential part of a Berliner’s weekend agenda is digging through boxes of antiques and trying on vintage jean jackets at the various flea markets that pop up around the city on Sundays. My favorite flea market is Mauer Park, which is a common opinion based on the amount of people who flock to the market. I like it because the flea market is filled with a mixture of antiques, original art, street food, and records. It is predominately attended by young people, but it also has lots of families who bring their kids to run around the park. I went to Mauer Park this past Sunday, which was Easter. The park was filled with musicians playing live, kids playing basketball, and dads manning grills. I loved the hodgepodge of people and activities happening simultaneously. I also have no complaints about the fried chicken sandwich I got that technically was my Easter brunch.
I also used my free time this past weekend to explore my own neighborhood. I live in Charlottenburg, which is on the opposite side of the city than where my friends live. Because of this distance, I typically spend my weekend commuting to Kreuzberg or Schöneberg. I took advantage of the extra day off on Monday to find the gems in my neighborhood. I spent a large portion of the day writing and eating more than one ice cream cone on the patio of a gelato shop. I also found a little park filled with people hanging out and listening to music.
The sunshine and the carefree attitude it has fostered makes me love Berlin even more. My time here is starting to run out, since my program ends in less than a month. Part of me is starting to get a little homesick, and I definitely miss my family and friends. However, I plan to spend my next few weeks hanging out at the park and eating as many ice cream cones as possible. There are definitely worse ways to close out a semester, so I’m not complaining.