After seven months of living in Berlin, I had not been to Weissensee, one of the many lakes luxuriously located within city limits. It's only a fifteen minute ride from my house--but I blame autumn and my subsequent first winter in northeastern Germany for unintentional delay. Spring and summer are more pleasantly spent 'am Strand' (on the shore) and so it was finally an April afternoon, a sense of adventure, and my roommate who were the first, pleasant companions to this now regular route.
The way is quite simple. From the door of my apartment I turn right, following Prenzlauer Allee north until it becomes Prenzlauer Promenade. Here the street is wide, heavy with cars heading out towards the Autobahn; at street level is the variegated mixture of discount grocery chains, turkish and chinese food stands, corner bars, and second-hand furniture shops that describe the city generally enough. To the east stands a housing development realized by weimar architect Bruno Taut, painted peach with primary accents. Perhaps unremarkable to any but architectural enthusiasts, its presence reinforces the peaceful, egalitarian tone of the neighborhood of settled homeowners that sits beyond the busier street. Further on, a pack of leather-clad types with plastic bottle collections and a pack of sleepy hounds gathers about a fountain attached to a small square. Their society is not so startling in a place where punk is not yet dead, their conversation bubbling only partly boisterously; spilling out amid softening sounds of falling water.
At the transitional intersection marked by the name change of "allee" to "promenade," the feeling of urban fringe collects itself into a more defined border, separating the districts of Prenzlauerberg and Pankow. The autos and I separate, too, my destination perhaps not as far, and quite easily reached by bicycle. East on Gustav-Adolf-Strasse and straight ahead: the rapidly decreasing density acquires a more rural feel within minutes, past the last set of tram tracks. The bike path here is cobble stoned, tree-lined, only lightly trafficked. At certain hours, pre-teens toting backpacks loll loosely about nearby schools--the older art students at Weißensee Kunsthochschule (Weissensee School of Fine Art) have a less invasive presence, recognized in the shapes of abandoned storefronts cum sculpture studios.
Turning south on Amalienstrasse leads past a parking lot, a cemetary, a row of cottages along a street wide enough for only one car, a couple trimming a prolific hedge. Crossing a sidewalk to finally reach the 'See', I encounter other Sunday strollers with ice-cream cones, old men smoking in shirtsleeves, couples sunning themselves with novels in hand. It's a splendid, if non-spectacular route, ending in a cul-de-sac of cold water, and satisfaction.