Monday, September 3, 2012

Parks in Berlin: Mauerpark

Mauerpark, in the district of Prenzlauer Berg, is one of the most popular parks in Berlin. 'Mauer', which means 'wall' in German, is a reference to the fact that the park made up part of the 'death strip'  during the times of the Berlin Wall. The park itself is an ok place just to hang out and relax with friends but there are lots of other reasons to visit, especially on a Sunday. 

I've been to the park three times. In fact, this weekend a friend was visiting me from Spain so we decided to go there for a look around. There are many regular flea markets in Berlin and the Flohmarkt am Mauerpark has to be the most famous. It takes place every Sunday and has everything you would expect of a good flea market. 

You can buy anything from designer clothing and jewellery, used bikes, second-hand clothes and shoes, posters, tools, toys and household goods, even, for some reason, a surprising amount of decorative door knobs! The market is always teeming with activity and aside from the usual offerings there are plenty of bars and food stands where you can grab a beer, a currywurst, burgers, pretzels, refreshments and more. 

Not only can you do some bargain-hunting in the flea market or relax on the grassy area with a pic-pic, but there is normally some kind of organised entertainment going on including live bands and street performers.  You can't go to the park on a Sunday without catching a bit of the famous Bearpit Karaoke Show which has been taking place on Sunday afternoons since 2009. It draws huge crowds to the stone circular stage area within the park and thousands of people head there to listen to the brave performers singing karaoke classics. 

If you sing really well, the crowd goes wild. I'm not sure what the reaction would be if you don't sing well but I've heard there is a certain amount of boo-ing involved. I don't know if I'm ready for that kind of public criticism just yet so instead of getting up to give it my all, I sat on the hill with a beer and enjoyed the music! 

We had the pleasure of listening to a few performances including a very well sung rendition of Creep by Radiohead and an impressive Frank Sinatra impersonation. Both of which received very enthusiastic responses from the audience. 

So, if you can't think of anything to do next Sunday and you are in the mood for getting out of your pyjamas and heading into Berlin, keep Mauerpark in mind. Beware though, if you plan on playing frisbee, watch out for excited dogs! We decided to play on Sunday and within two minutes a dog came pounding up and stole our frisbee. He seemed very happy with his find at least for the two seconds he played with it before biting the plastic in two and destroying any flying capability it may have had. Note to self for my next trip to Mauerpark - Either A) buy a better quality 'dog-proof' frisbee or B) just take beer!  

The flea market takes place in Mauerpark every Sunday between 8am and 6pm (although in my experience it's better to go in the morning). The Karaoke starts at around 3pm but there is usually some kind of entertainment going on all day at the stage area. 

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