getting reacquainted with my bike

Families enjoying Tempelhof

This weekend was definitely a good’un.  It was cold but clear and sunny, in fact the light was all syrupy and golden, wonderful.  It’s funny how the minute it gets cold you start to notice that the people in the sunshine are actually turning their face towards the light like plants, their eyes are usually closed and you know that they’re savoring the feeling of the warmth kissing their skin, in the hope that they’ll be able to remember it on the endlessly grey days that make you feel like it’s never going to be sunny again.

I was determined that I would use my bike this weekend, and use it I did.  I rode to watch the rugby match on Saturday morning, a journey that started off absolutely freezing and ended unfeasibly sweaty as there were some mini hills and I was late.  The rugby was showing in a deep dark pit, and poor Wales wuz robbed, so it wasn’t quite the sunniest possible start to the day, but the bike ride helped.

I left the bike alone for a little bit to get coffee with Kate and then took it off towards Prenzlauerberg, the market (falafels, crepes, nom nom nom) and the wool shop.  I’ve decided to try and knit myself an earflap hat for skiing, and want to try colourwork for the first time, so I needed equipment.  Hopefully it will result in something like this on the right.  Picture by Tienne Knits, the pattern designer.

Fernsehturm from the Wasserturm

I had a good bummel around the kiez, tried on lots of hats at a fabulous but pricey hatshop, and found a watertower and amazing view over the city.

As ever with Berlin, you have to be mindful of the history, the tower and adjoining machine shed were once a small inner city concentration camp, but it’s now a very peaceful place indeed with Berliners enjoying a quiet afternoon.

Sunday was a sun day indeed, absolutely gorgeous, and so I wobbled off on the bike again in a southwesterley direction, down to the Mehringdamm for a British Sunday Lunch with Danni.  Sadly no roast but the fish and chips and the company were fabulous.  We finally parted company around 4 which meant it was a bit late to head off towards Olympiastadion or the Grunewald, but it suddenly occurred to me that I was near Tempelhof, the ex-airport now park, which I’d heard lots about but never been to.  So off I went and found it.  According to Wikipedia it’s “one of Europe’s three iconic pre-World War II airports” (very interesting wiki actually, have a read) and it still looks fab, don’t you agree?

view of the radar tower and terminal

While the two main runways are still clear, much of the other hard surfaces are adorned with weeds, but this doesn’t stop countless folk from using the park in any number of ways: kiteboarding, windsurfing on wheels, rollerblading, cycling, running, ultimate frisbee-ing and playing a bizarre looking game which the internet tells me is called Jugger (watch, and be confused)….and those are just some of the energetic things. The sheer number of kites in the sky was mind boggling.   I had a lot of fun cycling around as much of it as possible, and taking silly pictures.  I particularly enjoyed shooting into the sun…

runway rollerblading

and the fact that even my leisurely cycling allowed to me to criss cross and circumnavigate, people watching all the while, without being overwhelmed by the scale of it.  Late afternoon autumn light is brilliant, the shadows are long and lean and it just feels like a special, fleeting, must-be-captured-before-it’s-gone treat.

fence between the terminal and where planes taxied to the runway

You’d think that such an empty place would be boring, but in fact I think it’s a boon to the city to have such a versatile space so accessible to so many, and for free too. So I’ve come to the conclusion that not all parks need flowers and trees.   I bet you never thought you’d hear that from me, did you?  I’m not alone, there’s a very nice article by the Independent about it, if you care for more words, but I must admit that I also loved my foray through Hassenheider Park on my way home, which was full of trees.  And now, I’ll finish this extraordinarily long post and let you go.  Auf wiedersehen, pet.

A springy sun day

Have I mentioned that we’ve been having rather super (German pronunciation please, not jollyhockeysticks style) weather here in the last week?  Tis so.  Sunday was no exception so I decided to continue with my Berlin explorations by walking from my house to Sonja’s house for Sprachtandem and taking in the Volkspark Friedrichshain on my way.  It was an excellent decision. The first thing I saw when I went in was this bevvy of crocuses. Lovely.  Spring is definitely sproing.

The Volkspark Friedrichshain was the first public park in Berlin and it still retains a community feel with lots of runners, strolling couples and families with little kids running round causing havoc.  In short it felt homely and I enjoyed my meanders along it’s paths.  Then I got to the star attraction, the renowned Märchenbrunnen.  After a little while “reading” the notice I established that this means Fairytale Fountains, and that the complex I was about to enter was one of the biggest and most expensive of it’s time.  Here’s what it used to look like (so Wikipedia tells us)

Sadly it doesn’t have water in yet, so I’ll have to revisit later in the year, but since many of the stone figures have been replaced/restored it’s still really quite impressive.  Here are a few that took my fancy. Firstly, the turkey girl.  No idea what the story is…

Nextly, the turtles that sit on the edge of the water.  I think they’re my favourites.  Look at his face!  I did like the frogs that you can see in the background too, but I didn’t get close enough for portraits of them.

I also have this funny little guy with excellent glasses, seated on a maiden’s knee.  Again, I’m not sure what the story is but I loves it.

I may adopt the park as my running venue I think, there are some hills and some flat so I could mix things up a bit until I get back into the swing of things and can start putting in longer runs.  Watch this space to see if I keep my word!