Summer: an ongoing Berlin love affair

It always comes upon you suddenly, the Berlin summer. One day you’re shivering in your down coat at the playground, lamenting with friends how it is already May but barely 10 degrees celsius. The next day you’re sweating in your shirtsleeves, the powerful sun beating down on your cycling helmet. Though the daffodils peeping out in the park might have been hinting at warmer weather for a while, the abrupt shift leaves no time to adjust your wardrobe. England makes up for its lack of a proper summer by giving you a long and promising spring. Here, there is no such gradual move from thick woollies and heavy boots to a cotton cardigan and lightweight shoes. However sudden, the glorious thing about that day, that first day of sunshine, is that Berlin erupts into summer – the streets busy with ice-cream eating children, cafes spilling out onto pavements, parks filled with rich barbecue smoke, families packing cars for lazy lake days – and you fall in love with the city all over again. Four highlights of our early summer season so far, which you might consider if you’re heading to the Haupstadt before October.

Ice-cream at Rosa Canina on Arnswalder Platz (Prenzlauerberg)

Finding the best ice-cream in town

This title will be challenged by other Berlin residents, but I’d call Rosa Canina the best ice-cream dealer in town. The quality of the ice-cream is unbeatable – creamy, sharp, inventive (buttermilk lemon right through to pumpkin seed), not too sweet – all whilst not being extortionately expensive. We have two Rosa Canina parlours within a stone’s throw of our place. We are frequent summertime visitors to both, but the just renovated one on Arnswalder Platz has the advantage of being slightly less discovered, large and airy, on a shady side of the street for hot summer days, and just opposite a playground which pleases most age groups. Continue reading

Berlin’s desk revolution

“It’s like being interviewed for a shared flat,” my German friend, the freelance TV producer, says to me one Wednesday morning over one of those pungent Berlin coffees. Having left our laptops gently purring on our dining table desks, we are now sitting outside a local cafe reinvigorating our brains with caffeine and a vitamin-C-laden fruit salad. After three years working from home, the washing machine peeps have interrupted the flow of my friend’s creative juices one time too many and she has finally decided to find herself a real desk in a co-working space.

She is not alone: approximately 80,000 people worldwide are currently using co-working spaces, and Berlin is one of the capitals for it. In the post-financial-crisis digital age, swathes of ambitious young people are shunning traditional careers and looking instead to freelance projects or setting up their own business as alternative paths to professional greatness. And it turns out that not all of these digital nomads are happy to work surrounded by last night’s dirty dishes or with the ever-alluring TV in the corner telling them it really is alright to watching two hours of N-TV (the German new channel) every lunchtime because its ‘educational’. Continue reading

Berlin Eulogy

“Aren’t you homesick?” people ask when they first note my German’s British shades. “What do you miss most of all?” they continue, adopting a sympathetic tone. I take their questions seriously and think hard about what I could say. A series of frivolous consumer products and old favourite, high street shop fronts flickers through my mind – Cadbury’s chocolate, Yorkshire black tea, a preferred face cleanser, the shoe shop on London’s Bond Street where each shoe fits like it has been made especially for me – all of which seem far too superficial to be worth mentioning. I hesitate some more.

See, the truth is I am still too much in love with Berlin for any of my idle fancies to count as homesickness. Expat life here, two and a bit years and a pair of twins later, remains charmingly novel; Berlin’s prominent and more hidden gems are mine to discover and then proudly revel in with our many visitors. Continue reading