Thursday, 9 June 2011

A day trip to Müggelsee

My brother left Berlin on Monday after almost a week's visit. His girlfriend, K, was new to Berlin, and sneakily A and I pretended to have to go to work and so we let them do the shopping and the sightseeing on their own. The weather was fantastic except for on one day out of six: it rained on Wednesday when M and K were emptying their wallets at TK Maxx Charlottenburg. We did get stuck in a thunderstorm in Treptower Park on Tuesday, too, but we had a great time sitting under the roof of at an outdoor café, drinking Krombacher and waiting it out.

Thursday was Christi Himmelfahrt and M&K's third day in Berlin. I had to do a work assignment that took us to the Müggelsee in Köpenick – a lake I've wanted to visit since last summer when I read about a floating wooden house in the middle of the water, the Spreearche restaurant. The four of us packed sun screen, bathing-suits and bicycles on board the S3 train (which involved a lot of carrying the bikes up and down the stairs) and rode for about 15 minutes until we got off in Friedrichshagen. After cycling south along Bölschestrasse for about 1,5 kilometres we reached the Müggelsee shore. It was crowded with middle-aged people spilling over from the loud biergartens and teenies carrying crates of beer and barbecue equipment around, trying to impress each-other with the loudest music or the biggest amount of drink.

We carried on and crossed the river through the Spreetunnel. The other side was less crowded and noisy. A little bit further from the tunnel (to the right) we found a grassy little plot that was the beach. We had no problem in finding space to sit down, and later we took over the jetty where no one else was sitting. The views toward Friedrichshagen and the old Berliner Bürger Bräu brewery were beautiful and the river was busy with rented motorboats and proud sailboats. The water was pretty cold, but seemed very clean. We all went for a little swim – except for M, who didn't bring a dry pair of shorts to change to.

When we finished our swim we found that the natives had joined us on the jetty: four tattooed 20-something guys. That would never happen at home in Finland – people just don't want to impose on strangers and would find it awkward to have to interact at all. These tattooed Köpenicker boys were there to drink and barbecue, and I have to admit that I was a little intimidated and thought that they might not take kindly to tourists and foreigners. Quatsch! They made friendly chitchat in their restricted English and said they were happy to see tourists visit Köpenick, because it's "the most beautiful part of Berlin".

After drying up a little we started to feel hungry and made our way even further on, towards a little jetty just after the beach. On the jetty we found a big sign saying "Bitte hier klingeln!" with an arrow pointing towards a doorbell. The doorbell sends an alert to the floating restaurant, and they send a wooden raft to collect their guests. Just a few minutes after ringing the doorbell we were on board the Spreearche. We boarded with a big group of twenty middle-aged Germans, but they were escorted upstairs to the roof terrace, and so it was pretty peaceful downstairs and we got one of the four bigger tables without a problem. We started to get really hungry and ran back and forth between our table and the menu written on a blackboard indoors, translating the different food options. The menu didn't have a single vegetarian dish and only two meat dishes, but us flexitarians were happy about the selection of fish: butterfish, plaice, scampi, shrimp, smoked salmon and Matjes herring, all fresh. The cuisine represented a typical German, straightforward style and most dishes came with potatoes in different forms. The plates weren't pretty, but the food was absolutely delicious, and I'd go back to Spreearche in a heartbeat just for those Schwenkkartoffeln and the Frühlingsquark my butterfish was served with. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!

Müggelsee was a huge success and I can't wait to go back. Coming with our bikes was definitively an advantage, but there's a tram running between the S-Bahn and the shore, too, so you could do without. Maybe next time at Müggelsee we'll rent a boat and dock on to the Spreearche with our own little vessel!

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