Gorgeously green

Berlin has more green spaces than any other major European city. You might almost say it’s as much a park as it is a city. And the same is true in and around Strausberger Platz.

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image courtesy of derProjektor / photocase.de

But first a confession: I suffer from hay fever. And ten years ago, when I moved to Strausberger Platz, I thought to myself, here you are safe. Ha! Then along came spring and plants exploded to life right outside my door. Karl-Marx-Allee: eight lanes with roughly 50,000 cars rushing along it every single day – you just don’t get more urban than this. So what are blossoming Magnolias doing right outside my door? That’s just how it is! The most beautiful of all possible sights: the petals drifting like snow across the Allee. And the lime trees, lined up like an honor guard extending to Alexanderplatz, swaying gently in the breeze.

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image courtesy of Koosinger / photocase.de

The view of the architecture, unshielded by bare trees throughout the winter, is changing: from a display of extraordinary buildings in winter, a transformation into space literally full of life takes place as summer approaches. And all of Berlin is like this. Winters along the River Spree are – and this is putting it mildly – something to get used to. But spring and summer in Berlin, with more green spaces than any other major European city, see an explosion of color and life. And at the heart of it all: Strausberger Platz.

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image courtesy of drsg98 / fotolia.com

The green spaces along Karl-Marx-Allee and at Strausberger Platz are not much more than little luxuries, with botany relegated to the background. For now! Because the urban development plan for 2016 wants to conjure up a greened central reservation all the way from the parking areas at Strausberger Platz to Alexanderplatz. Where cars are currently the stars, trees will soon be lined up. This certainly stimulates the imagination: How about, for example, if the whole stretch of road was switched from above ground to an underground tunnel? We’d have space for another park…but that’s just an idea. And, when you think about the area around Strausberger Platz, maybe there’s no need for yet another park. The area around Strausberger Platz, I hear you ask? Exactly! This is where you’ll find Weydemeyerstraße, running directly parallel to Karl-Marx-Allee. A street where GDR history rubs shoulders with contemporary Berlin. Does the word „Plansche“ mean anything to you? No? Then here goes: while Germany was divided, the government of East Germany – at least when it had the money – installed paddling pools (Plantschbecken) in urban areas for children to play in. These pools soon became known as „Plansche“ among locals. There’s a perfectly functional „Plansche“ to the rear of Strausberger Platz and another one (please, please, please!) is due to be restored at some point very soon.

The pools are the city. Are green. Are life.

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image courtesy of emoji / photocase.de

Sunny afternoons, playful, soaked-to-the-skin kids splashing through the fountain as their parents chat nearby. A scene you’d expect to find in a village, but one that is actually taking place in the middle of an urban metropolis. As soon as the first serious sunshine hits the city you’ll see Friedrichshain’s fanatical nudists stretched out alongside families barbecuing in the park. Speaking of barbecues: barbecuing is a hot topic in Berlin. Even the country’s president, in his official residence at Schloß Bellevue, is not safe from the wafting scent of sausages sizzling on the barbecue.

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image courtesy of kallejipp / photocase.de

A representative online study recently asked 20,000 nationals from 20 developed and developing countries to rate the quality of life in 50 different countries. Which country came first? Germany! And why? An afternoon in Friedrichshain and at one of the paddling pools is explanation enough! There’s togetherness. There’s greenery. And there’s (lots of) laughter.

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