The real first days of Spring are finally here and the summer is luring in the distance. After the long days of Winter, you find yourself in dire need of outdoor entertainment. What better way to quench that thirst than going on a urban trip on the 1st of May? All the right ingredients are there after all: free concerts, cheap booze, & general sense of laissez-faire with the occasional fight. In a nutshell : the perfect occasion to meet up with some friends and spend some time in a joyous atmosphere around Kottbusser Tor or Görlitzer Park.
However the reality is far from ideal. The 1st of May is best defined by the following:
- Unmanageable crowds in narrow streets meaning it takes about 45min to walk 200m
- Permanently losing friends that didn’t follow the group properly, thus spending half of the time trying to back-track them, instead of enjoying
- The impossibility of contacting them via cellphone since connection is non-existent (refer to 1st bullet point for explanation)
- A tons of concerts way too close to one another, with never-ending sound system competitions. This means you either can’t hear the music properly or risk hear loss.
- Pick-pockets & fights
My point: Here are some 6 free ways to better use your time around the city.
1- Have a pique-nique in Babelsberg Park
Along the Havel, between Berlin & Potsdam, this lovely green area has it all: the water, the tall trees, old mansions, castles & towers, lovely green fields. This is a perfect location to relax away from the busy city with a great sight onto Potsdam across the water.
2- Be Ostalgic – Back to DDR times
While East-Berlin & DDR times was synonymous of a policing state & limited access to bananas, a growing nostalgia has led former East-Berliners to collect and conserve traces of that special time. Alongside the excellent but crowded DDR museum, this original East-Berlin appartement makes you feel like the Glasnost never happened, left untouched since the fall of the Wall. The many stories told by the guide is also gold.
3- Visit where Ziggy Stardust once lived
I admit this alternative feels a bit opportunistic but it’s still a good field trip. David Bowie famously lived in Berlin for a while, where he composed a few of his hits. You can see where he lived together in a WG with Iggy Pop at Hauptstraße 155 / 10827 Berlin
4- Go on a hike to the Peacock Island
Not too far from Babelsberg Park, this island is also renowned in the region for being the perfect day-trip. A small bridge lets you access the Island where peacocks are left freely wandering the beautiful nature there. Spring is also mating season; the perfect time to see males try to impress the ladies with their colorful apparatus. Don’t come too close though, they run fast.
5- See a Soviet Masterpiece
This surprisingly little-known monument is the biggest soviet WW2 memorial outisde of Russia. In a very communist fashion, the architecture is overwhelming, grandiose and a great piece of propaganda. This stunning place is a perfect stop before heading to Treptower Park for a BBQ.
6- Play Tchoo-tchoo in the middle of the nature in Schöneberg
Built on-top of a former fret railway station, this park is part of project where Art meets Nature. Many art pieces are spread through out the woods where a full-size locomotive is still waiting for its next assignment. It’s a great place to take pictures, especially with the trees growing on top of rails.
So now, do me a favor, avoid the crowds, and enjoy the day. 🙂
There are of-course many other alternatives out-there like you can see on this map for example.
What are you suggestions?
PS: I know that the celebration of May Day doesn’t only happen in the Kotti-Oranienstr.-Görli area. I am just fed up with going there, supposedly for having a good time, and it always ends up being a nightmare. The whole thing is bit over-rated, hence the passive-aggressive tone of this post. No hard feelings. 🙂