It’s counterintutive, isn’t it? But Berlin actually has quite a few beach bars along the Spree River. They come in all shapes and sizes. My first taste of the beach bar scene came early in my time here, at a Latin music/dance night at a huge beach bar by the main train station. Lots of sand, tropical drinks (and, of course, beer, which I went for), the whole shebang. It was cool, if a bit kitschy. (Incidentally, this bar was either part of or next to the Bundespressestrand, or federal press beach, which I don’t think is actually owned or run by the press, though I could be wrong.)
Last night, I went with a friend to a beach bar behind the East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain. The atmosphere was quite different — more Venice Beach, certainly, than Venice. A Brazilian reggae/jazz/samba band was playing (later replaced by a talented Brazilian rap duo and a dancing guy on stilts in a horse costume). An alternative young crowd was spread across the ample sand and along the river. Smoke from the odd joint wafted our way. Nearby, some people played beach volleyball.
The weather was gorgeous, and we drank beers by the river and watched the sun set. It was all quite beautiful. And — it goes without saying here, though it would be inconceivable in New York or DC — there was no cover, the drinks were cheap, the place wasn’t crowded, and the atmosphere was relaxed.
Walking out, as the rappers continued their rapid-fire Portuguese and the setting sun gave way to dusk, I had one of my more powerful “I’ll miss Berlin” moments.