Signs that Summer is Coming to Berlin

by James Glazebrook

With GIFs curated by When You Live in Berlin.

Finally – winter is over! Now that we’re well into April, we seem to have survived the darkest winter on record, as the last ice thaws on the pavements and the sun has started burning through the uniform grey of the Berlin sky. But it’s not all blue skies from here on in – we’re hearing rumours of everything from 20°C heatwaves to even more snow. So while we wait for the all-clear from Mr Sun, click on that SAD lamp and study these signs that summer is indeed coming to Berlin.

Berliners show off their “summer outfits”

Forget shorts and flip-flops, that’s not going to fly in Germany. You might find the natives donning their sensible sandals (with socks), summer edition breathable dayglo Jack Wolfskin anoraks and parasol-cum-umbrellas – because it could still rain at any minute. Neukölln hipsters’ beanies will rise with the temperature, to let the warm breeze caress their pretty heads, and they’ll pull on pastel socks and deck shoes or whatever yacht rock bullshit Williamsburg is exporting this season. But don’t despair – while annoying, this is a sign that summer is just around the corner.

You have to queue for ice cream

Our nth sublet was above an ice cream stand and I shit you not, as soon as the temperature inched above zero and the year’s first sun-rays hit the street, there was a line across it of eager Berliners waiting for their first taste of summer. While this may not be an indicator of what Australians or Brazilians would recognise as summer, this is a sure-fire sign that Germany’s pale imitation is on its way.

People appear at table tennis tables…

You’d be forgiven for thinking that football is Germany’s national sport, but it’s not; that would be table tennis. Did you know that there are more Tischtennis tables than football pitches in Berlin? FACT.* Because, while football requires a certain amount of agility and stamina, literally everyone can play table tennis. It’s the kind of sport that can be mastered on a series of quiet, constructive, not-too-cold Sundays.

*not a fact.

…and tables appear outside cafés and restaurants

Ice cream isn’t the only food Berliners like to consume in unseasonably chilly conditions. If there’s a sliver of sunshine burning through the heavy clouds above the city, you can bet that every square metre of direct daylight will feature a table full of food, and a huddle of locals each wearing a winter coat, pashmina and a wistful pair of shades. Because they know, as soon as summer proper hits in a few weeks, all the good tables will be taken up by verdammten Touristen

Tourists start flooding in

How do they know? We Berliners have all spent the month or so fearing that the whole of 2013 will be one long winter – but at some point during our darkest days, some tourist somewhere was like, “Oh yeah, by the middle of April Berlin will be glorious” *books Ryanair ticket*. Now we have to spend the next few months being confused for tourists, with everyone in our Kiez speaking resentful English to us and forgetting that we hate the invading hordes as much as they do. (Joke.)

Open Airs

As soon as you start getting Facebook invites for open air parties in abandoned amusement parks/Cold War monuments/meat separation plants, you know the weather’s going to improve any day. Because, with the exception of the mentalists who organised Berlin’s first winter open air this January, promoters of sun-dependent parties have a better handle on local weather systems than the Met Office.

Dog shit.

The sight of months-old Hundescheisse thawing on the street outside your apartment might just have you wishing for more snow.

Balkon envy

Summer is the time of year when you stop mocking your friend with the 20m² apartment, whose balcony accounts for half of the total floor space… and start wondering whether you could get away with pushing them off said Balkon. Now that the ground isn’t covered with snow, someone’s bound to notice – it would take a hell of a lot of dog shit to cover the body. But it can’t be that often that Berliners plunge to their death from their own balconies, and in the time it takes the local police to work out what happened, you could be working on your tan. 

So… can you spot any signs that summer is slowly sneaking up on Berlin?