You’re not always guaranteed a hot summer in Berlin. In fact, some years it seems you don’t get a summer at all. It can feel cool to downright cold some days, and it can be rainy and dreary too. A particularly low point for me this summer was when I wore a turtleneck sweater and boots to work one day in June, because it was just that cold. In June. Yes, I’d rather not talk too much about that dreary day.
After spending the better part of half my life in hot, humid south Georgia, I appreciate that Berlin does not reach sweltering temps and that humidity is very rarely high. Because sweating as soon as you step out the door, like you do in the hotter-than-hot Southeast is really not fun. On the flip side, with the 6-month winters you get in this part of the world, you really really really want summer to come. Trust me.
But occasionally we get lucky and have days that are sunny and warm just as summer should be – like this week when temperatures reached at hot 100 degrees (Fahrenheit, that is!). Yes, it was hot. And no, most places here do not have AC. However, after a few years of long cold winders, I’ve grown to enjoy the days when it’s actually hot here, because you (a) get to break out that bikini that gets way to seldom worn here, and (b) you get COLOR – maybe not Cali beach tan, but you can at least get rid of the winter pale and look alive again, which is of course good!
My favorite place to escape to when it’s hot – and when I don’t have my kids with me, as they’ve turned into city kids in the meantime and don’t love the mucky mud at the bottom of the lakes or the bugs – is one of the many lakes here in Berlin. I won’t list them all here because I’m much to lazy to do so, when a quick Google search show them to you. But my personal favorites up to now are Weißensee (pictured above and which I’ll tell you more about) and Krumme Lanke (which will have to wait for another time, because all this writing about the lake is making me want to head that direction!).
Weißensee is about a twenty-minute bike ride from my place, so it’s easy to reach without the hassle of public transport. It’s in the former East – meaning it’s a tiny bit run-down is (see photos below), and there is lots of graffiti and some of the rougher folk you tend to mostly see most here on the East side. But it’s also quaint and inexpensive. You can rent a paddle boat for an hour for about 3 Euros, and there is food and drink available for sale at the Strand (beach) bar that is not too pricey either. And somehow, unlike more popular places like Wannsee, you can find a quite little spot to sunbathe even when it’s crowded. In short, I love Weißensee. There is even one of those swings you can jump in the water from (see below!), although I’m not sure you can reach it unless your the better part of six feet tall.
If you live in Berlin and haven’t been to Weissensee, head that way for an afternoon for a nice, unpretentious place to cool off. You won’t be bored – I heard no less than six languages spoken there yesterday (yes, I counted! Among others were French and Arabic, two of my favourites). And with paddle boats, a playground by the “beach,” food and a bar – you’ve got just about everything you need to make a day great.