Ship Ahoy

Com­ing from the east coast of Aus­tralia, Annabelle Mallia was pleas­antly sur­prised to dis­cover wa­ter was still close to home.

Where Berlin - - CONTENTS - BY ANNABELLE MALLIA

Jump on­board a boat and dis­cover Ber­lin's wa­ter­ways – sea legs not re­quired.

Nau­ti­cal fans, re­joice! Though not on the coast, Ber­lin is un­doubt­edly a city on the wa­ter. It is said to have five times as many bridges as Venice and over 180km of nav­i­ga­ble wa­ter­ways, count­ing nu­mer­ous lakes, rivers, and canals that even­tu­ally flow into the Baltic and North Seas. His­tor­i­cally serv­ing as ship­ping chan­nels and borders in a di­vided city, Ber­lin’s wa­ter­ways have since been trans­formed into a hub for sight­seers, and the best way to ex­pe­ri­ence them is, of course, aboard a boat.

JUST CRUISIN'

A river cruise is a great way to sit back and dis­cover the city's his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural riches. Boat tour com­pa­nies Reed­erei Riedel (www.reed­erei-riedel.de), Reed­erei Bruno Win­kler (www.reed­erei­win­kler.de), and Ex­clu­siv Yachtchar­ter Ber­lin (www. ex­clu­siv-yachtchar­ter.de) all of­fer sim­i­lar routes as well as food and bev­er­ages. Hop on board for a one-hour tour of the city cen­ter along the Spree, cut­ting right through the mod­ern gov­ern­ment dis­trict and the ar­chi­tec­tural trea­sures of Mu­seum Is­land. For more leisurely sight­seers, the three-and-a-half-hour "Bridge Tour" is a good choice. It takes a wide loop on the through met­ro­pol­i­tan Ber­lin and the col­or­ful dis­tricts of Friedrichshain, Char­lot­ten­burg, Kreuzberg, and Neukölln on the Landwehr Canal. Along the way, the boat passes un­der 64 bridges, some so low that a warn­ing sig­nal tells pas­sen­gers on the top deck when to duck their heads. Tours de­part from nu­mer­ous moor­ing points.

The "7 Lakes" tour with Stern und Kreis (www.ster­nund­kreis.de) takes you along the chain of lakes between Ber­lin and Pots­dam, al­ter­nat­ing between stun­ning na­ture and his­tor­i­cal mon­u­ments such as Prus­sian cas­tles and the Glienicker Brücke bridge, where Rus­sian and Amer­i­can spies were ex­changed dur­ing the Cold War. Al­ter­na­tively, you can catch the F10 ferry across the lake to Kladow, pass­ing the se­cluded Pea­cock Is­land and re­quir­ing no more than a valid BVG trans­port ticket for board­ing. When you get off, take a walk on the prom­e­nade and check out the resteau­rant and play­grounds. There's even a swim­ming spot for the warmer days.

ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR BOAT

For more boat­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties where you pro­vide the mus­cle power, head to the green­ery of Trep­tower Park. Walk along the Spree River to Insel der Ju­gend, soak­ing up the lively at­mos­phere along

the es­planade. De­pend­ing on your mood, you can rent a pedal boat, row­boat, or a mo­tor­boat and go ex­plor­ing. Kids will have fun just cir­cum­nav­i­gat­ing the is­land, and you can dock for a re­fresh­ing drink at the is­land's beer garden. Al­ter­na­tively, at pond­side Café am Neuen See (www. cafeam­neuensee.de) in the mid­dle of Tier­garten you can fill up on wood-fired pizza and Ger­man beer, then rent one of their pad­dle­boats for a splash about with the ducks in the sun. If you're look­ing for more ad­ven­ture,

Ber­lin Kayak Tours (www.ka­jak­ber­lin­tours. de) of­fers a range of op­tions from night events to East and West tours. Or join the lat­est stand-up pad­dling craze from Hawaii at Stand Up Club Ber­lin (www. standup­club.de). Lo­cated cen­trally at Arena Ber­lin, their tour steers you past ru­ins of the Ber­lin Wall and the city’s club­bing scene, while yoga en­thu­si­asts can take part in one of their float­ing yoga classes on the pad­dling board. Af­ter­wards, sim­ply re­lax on the beach at the Arena Bade­schiff.

DIN­ING AFLOAT

No need to dock onto dry land when the ap­petite builds. Res­tau­rant ship Alte

Liebe (www.alte-liebe-ber­lin.de), lo­cated on the Havel River and sur­rounded by the Grunewald for­est is a leg­endary spot for West Ber­lin­ers on a first date. It dishes up an ex­ten­sive range of hearty and mar­itime Ger­man-style cui­sine op­tions against a back­drop of boats sail­ing off into the sun­set. Or, on a lovely sec­tion of the old Kreuzberg har­bor, din­ers can climb aboard Van Loon (www.van­loon.de) into a sur­pris­ingly roomy boat hold, re­con­structed with ex­pan­sive win­dows to en­sure great views of the wa­ter. The menu is suit­ably seafood-fo­cused, in­clud­ing mod­ern vari­a­tions on the clas­sic fish and chips.

But by far the most novel way to dine is with Grill-boot.de (www.grill-boot.de) or bbq-donut (www.bbq-donut-ber­lin. de). Shaped like big or­ange donuts with a bar­beque in the mid­dle and and um­brella over­head, these float­ing grill boats can be seen sail­ing on the Havel River and Tegeler See lake, both of­fer­ing sim­i­lar deals for up to ten hun­gry sailors.

DAY TRIPPER

Now that you’ve taken in all the city sights, it’s time to head a lit­tle fur­ther afield. Neu-Venedig (New Venice) in the far south­east­ern dis­trict of Rahns­dorf is renowned for its canals, rem­i­nis­cent of the Ital­ian name­sake city. Rent a ca­noe and go ex­plor­ing, pass­ing small garden cot­tages and multi-story vil­las. The weep­ing wil­lows and wa­ter lilies make it a truly idyl­lic spot, so peace­ful that you'd never be­lieve you're still in Ber­lin. A bit far­ther away, at an hour's drive from Ber­lin, the Spree­wald UNESCO bio­sphere of­fers a spec­tac­u­lar maze of about 200 small canals to­tal­ing 1300km in length. The clos­est town, Lübbe­nau, which is also the home­town of the leg­endary pick­les, is a great start­ing point for a tra­di­tional punt­ing tour and for a na­ture ob­ser­va­tion ex­pe­di­tion, but you can also rent a ca­noe and head off solo – just don’t lose the map.

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Stand Up Club Ber­lin

Clock­wise from this photo: Pad­dle­boats on the Neuen See; tour ship from Stern und Kreis; The Van Loon res­tau­rant ship; Boats on the Spree; The beer garden at Café am Neuen See; Yoga on pad­dle­boards at Stand Up Club Ber­lin

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