SPRING IS IN THE AIR
A couple of months ago, I was walking around Chamissoplatz in Kreuzberg, one my favorite Berlin squares, and suddenly I found myself trying to remember what exactly it was that I liked so much about it. It was a monochrome day, maybe the greyest of the whole winter, and the Platz seemed to have lost all of its charm: the building facades all looked similarly flat, the trees were, well, almost invisible, and the shop signs appeared blurred and dull. I couldn’t even find names for any of the colors I saw. All of this sounds depressing, especially if you are as weather sensitive as I am, but believe it or not, awful days like these do have a purpose: they make the Berlin spring all the more longed for, gorgeous, and unexpected. Every year, sometime around Easter, the spring suddenly explodes with its colors and scents. From one day to the next, Berlin wakes up and discovers blue skies and green leaves once more. The entire color palette magically reappears. If this hasn’t already happened as you read this, be patient, as tomorrow could be the day. Meanwhile, start celebrating the new season by embracing the season’s colors. Here are our tips for a multihued stay.
The color of growth and relaxation is also the color of the first leaves, and there’s nothing like going on a green binge to welcome the first days of spring. Maximize your chances of catching as many leaves as possible with a walk in Berlin’s oldest public park, Tiergarten. Once the Prussian kings’ favorite hunting spot, the park was enclosed in the 1600s, when its very first gardeners neatly trimmed its hedges and planted flowers in geometric arrangements in authentic Italian style. When such elaborate designs went out of trend in the late 1800s, architect Carl von Linné was called upon to add natural landscape elements such as ponds, small hills, and statuary, turning it into a more en vogue English-style garden. The park’s structure has remained the same since, but its most important element, its trees, had to be entirely replanted in the 1950s, as war- and poverty-stricken Berliners had chopped all of it for firewood.
The park is filled with interesting memorials and picturesque corners, but my favorite attraction is the little-known Gas Lamp
Museum (on the northwest edge of the park), an outdoor display of 90 working lampposts from all over Europe, each labeled with its hometown and date. For a romantic experience, visit the “museum” at dusk when the lamps go on, possibly after an idyllic afternoon at nearby pond-side
Café am Neuen See, where you can also
rent small boats.
It is the color of freedom, of vacation, of escapism. There’s only one place in Berlin where large skies come together with leisure and carefree life: the Tempelhofer
park. This former airport is not only the place where airlift planes landed during the Berlin Blockade, saving West Berliners from starvation after the Soviets blocked road access in 1948. It is also one of the quirkiest public parks in the world, and precisely because it was built to be an airport, complete with runways, huge signs once used by planes for landing, and a historic airport terminal. Today, Berliners use the runways to fly kites, skate, rollerblade, kite-surf, and picnic. If this 360° view of the sky has left you longing for more blue, take the S-Bahn to Wannsee and visit
Pfaueninsel, or “peacock island,” where you will run into dozens of the beautiful birds, with their iridescent blue-green plumage and marvelous tail displays.
For the mystic types, it is the color of purity and innocence; scientists say it’s simply a non-color, though it contains all the wavelengths of the visible spectrum. But over here around this time, white mainly recalls the quickly moving clouds dashing though the blue skies in spring, responsible for the raindrops you’ll feel on your skin every now and then. After all, May flowers need those April showers to grow, don’t they? To celebrate the candid clouds, visit the bright, minimalist interiors of the Camera
Work photography gallery (Kantstr. 149, www.camerawork.de). Until 18 April, the gallery will be presenting 20 large works