It was our final day in the beautiful city of Berlin and with the day promising to be a hot and sunny one, we thought we’d spend it outdoors exploring the city’s parks. We decided the best way to get around would be on push bikes, so we hot footed down to Fat Tire Bike Rentals and paid €8 for a half day rental. We could have had a tandem bike but given how much Barry complained about my slow biking speed when we rented bikes in Nantucket, I didn’t want the pressure of having to cycle at his super speedy pace so we settled for a bike each.
Our aim for the day was to explore Tiergarten which is one of the world’s largest urban parks. We entered by the entrance to Berlin Zoo and after a few little wobbles getting used to being on a bike again, we were off. Luckily Berlin is a very flat city, so we had no steep hills to climb. This meant my speed was up to par with Barry’s, so he had no reason to moan about my pace!
The park itself is a huge expanse of lakes, endless trees and reams of pathways just waiting to be explored. It’s filled with beer gardens and cafés, but our favourite part of Tiergarten was knowing that it was hiding some Geocaches. For those of you that don’t know what Geocaching is, it’s the modern day treasure hunt where you use your phone to locate items people have left in a public area such as a park. Whether you’re a kid or a fully grown adult, if you like to be outdoors exploring then you will love Geocaching. Our aim for the day was to find all the caches located in the park.
As we rode our way through the vast park, we passed so many idyllic spots. There were gorgeous little lakes so still that they homed crystal clear reflections of their surroundings. The gardens were filled with people enjoying the hot sunshine that was warming us on our last day, enjoying picnics and catching some rays. Some people were taking this to the extreme though and we were quite taken aback when we found ourselves riding through a nudist part of the park. I’ve since learned that being publicly nude is a German way of life, but being the English prude that I am, this did shock me. They really weren’t shy about it, or discreet. People were standing up and walking around letting it all swing free, some couples were full on cuddling, laying on their blankets. I don’t actually see anything wrong with this, if it’s not illegal then why not, but we did pick up the peddling pace and escaped this section pronto!
The park was scattered with different memorials including the 1873 Victory Column which although originally erected to celebrate the Prussian military victories, has since become a symbol of Berlins gay community. The column was situated in the middle of large roundabout where all the roads that ran through the park met.
Just outside the park, we came across the Carillon. We had no idea what this was, but was a very unique and interesting structure. Turns out it is actually a musical instrument. It’s made up of 68 bells and is connected to a keyboard. Every Sunday at 3pm a carillonneur plays a concert on it.
Whilst in the park we stumbled across a beautiful gated section where you had to disembark from your bikes and walk through. It was called Luiseninsel and was a garden created in celebration of the return of Friedrich Wilhelm III and Queen Luise after they were exiled. Amongst the vibrant array of flowers was a marble statue of Queen Luise. The garden was so tranquil we could’ve rested here for a while, but with so much to see we had to get on our way.
3.5 hours of peddling and 2 geocache finds later, we stopped for a quick Burger King. It was a welcomed rest, it what was working out to be a very hot day. After a quick ride along the canal which was situated right by some of the enclosures for the zoo animals, it was time to return the bikes. Whilst on the tour of the park, I’d seen some signs for row boats. I’d always wanted to take a row boat out on a lake, even if it did always remind me of the scene from the film Friday the 13th so if there was an opportunity to do it, I was going to take it. We dropped the bikes of and made our way back into the bike to find the lake with the boats. After passing through a pathway which was lined with a variety of old gas lamps, we found the lake – Neuer See. For about €5 we got to take the boat out for half an hour. Barry being his usual self, decided to rock the boat as I gingerly stepped into it. He did this a few times throughout our time rowing, but I soon realised that these boats were pretty safe and they were not about to capsize from a little rocking. The lake itself wasn’t very big so we could still see the dock from wherever we went, but we did have the whole lake to ourselves and I got to experience rowing a boat!
Once our half an hour was up and I’d just managed to narrowly avoid directing Barry into a tree, we made it back to the dock still dry. Next to the lake was the Biergarten and after shelling out for two beers we sat and watched the remainder of the Euro 2016 football England game.
We finished our day by tucking into some ice-cream from the Haagen-Dazs shop as we strolled back to our hotel.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Berlin, perhaps more so than what we imagined. The people are so friendly, it has such a chilled out vibe and the buildings and their architecture are fascinating. I was concerned initially that there wouldn’t be enough to keep us entertained for a whole week, but in actual fact there is so much we didn’t get to see that we have plenty of reasons to go back again!