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The best of Berlin in April

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The best of Berlin in April
Photo courtesy of Exberliner
15:20 CEST+02:00
Exberliner, Berlin's leading English-language magazine, spends April watching some skater girl action, discovers a hip Neukölln bar, finds new ways to get pampered plus gives a run-down of the best wholesome Easter weekend fun.

Skater görls

Although International Women's Day was last month, there will be an unofficial second one on April 23 when Cassiopeia in Friedrichshain hosts Berlin's first ever all-female skateboarding competition, which bears the subtle moniker, ‘Suck My Trucks.' The Berlin-based ‘Görls Skateteam' were tired of never being taken seriously at mixed competitions, always standing in the shadows of the men, so they decided to take the matter into their own hands. Around 30 women from France, Denmark and even Brazil will show off their tricks for €2,000 in prize money beneath the coloured windows in the Skatehalle. Next door, at Cassiopeia, visitors can view an exhibition containing photos of female skaters. The contest is divided into three categories: ‘Street,' ‘Vert' and ‘Best Trick.' In the latter, the competition takes the form of a running award ceremony, where the judges announce a trick and the rider doing it the fastest or the best receives money. The event's promoters say they ran into gender bias when they tried to find sponsors. Many large companies were initially interested, but as soon as they found out it was an all-female competition, they jumped ship. Finally, a handful of Görl-power-loving smaller companies stepped forward, and in addition to cash, the winners of the competitions will be awarded gifts from Wesc, Berlin streetwear company Iriedaily and perfume company Les Ettes, among others. After the contests, the party continues at Cassiopeia into the wee hours of the morning.

SUCK MY TRUCKS, Apr 23, 14:00 (exhibition at 12:00) | Skatehalle Berlin, Revaler Str. 99, Friedrichshain, U+S-Bhf Warschauer Str., www.suckmytrucks.de, €5 for a day pass

Neukölln poison

When we heard about Das Gift, a new ultra-hip bar in north Neukölln owned by a group of expat artist friends including Glaswegian multi-instrumentalist Barry Burns of Mogwai fame, we were frankly skeptical. We expected something showy and affected. Yet the first surprise is that Das Gift doesn't look much different than your typical neighborhood Eckkneipe; the owners maintained the original décor from the bar's prior life as the Donau-Eck. In fact, Das Gift resembles a cosy chalet – and we mean that in the best sense. The emphasis here is not on ‘coolness' but rather on warmth: big candles flicker on large wood tables against a soundtrack of low-key indie pop (minimal techno is as good as barred round these parts). Settle into one of the two comfortable armchairs at the back and taste one of the Scottish beers on offer– there's a changing selection every week (around €3 per pint), or try their Scottish version of a long vodka, which includes a shot of bitter lemonade. If it's slow, you can have a chat with Burns' wife Rachel, who often works the bar. And for the peckish, there's still one more gift in store - salt and vinegar crisps, the ultimate pub snack!

DAS GIFT | Donaustr. 119, Neukölln, U-Bhf Rathaus Neukölln, Tue-Sat from 20:00

Dare to sweat

For centuries, Turkish women have headed to the hamam to soak, sweat and gossip for hours, so it's no surprise that Berlin's ‘Little Istanbul,' Kreuzberg, has its very own women's bath, called, fittingly, ‘Hamam.' In 1988, the bath opened as a branch of the Schokofabrik women's center, with which it still shares a building. It began as a bathhouse for local women without showers in their apartments and only later took the plunge into the hottest concept of the 2000s: wellness. Yet for the most part, the old traditions have been preserved; for €14 you get three-hour access to a round bathing room covered in detailed mosaic with nooks adorned with ornate sinks and basins for bathers to douse themselves. A heated plateau in the middle is traditionally for massage, but modern times call for that sort of thing to be moved behind closed doors, leaving the hot stone as a place to lie and warm up while gazing at the blues of the mosaic ceiling. Around the room are cold showers, a sauna and a salon, where bathers can lounge on soft cushions, read magazines and sip complementary Turkish tea. These days, in spa-culture fashion, Hamam offers a variety of beautifying services for an additional charge. Popular options are the Kese, a traditional Turkish bodypeel with scrub (€10) and the more gentle soap massage (€20). Also available are mani-pedis (€15 and €20, respectively) and Agda sugar hair removal (€6-28). Unfortunately the tradition of semi-naked manservant masseurs hasn't made it to the menu.

HAMAM | Mariannenstr. 6, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Kottbusser Tor, Mon 15-23, Tue-Sun 12-23

‘Naturally' Berlin

We were intrigued when we heard that local brand i+m Naturkosmetik was launching a line of body care products designed as a homage to “always changing, exciting and innovative” Berlin. One hundred percent vegan and made with fair trade Ugandan shea butter and Moroccan argan oil, the lemony-ginger scented gels and creams are bio and über-ethical! Too bad the packaging is so reminiscent of a generic luxury cosmetic line you'd find in a fancy Berlin hotel bathroom. The black-and-white pics of the TV Tower and Oberbaumbrücke adorning the bottles convey images of a bygone idea of urban grittiness rather than the promise of freshness and nature. Maybe a good gift for nostalgic ex-Berliners?

I+M NATURKOSMETIK | Berlin line from €8.40-11.90. Available at www.iumn.de

Hop to it: Easter in Berlin

If you're a good Christian soldier, no doubt you'll be at Mass on April 24, but for all you heathens, there are plenty of ways to maximise your Easter (family) fun during the weekend.

FARM FED: The Lübars Family Farm sets the table for a family brunch on April 24 from 10-12:30 (€8 for adults, €4 for ages 6-12 and free for the younger kids). After brunch, there's an afternoon of activities: you can ride a pony, draw some eggs and participate in the traditional egg hunt. More hardcore egg-hunters should head to Schloß Diedersdorf at 10:00 to search a 55,000 sq. metre area for some 2,000 eggs! And at Diedersdorf, there's not just one Easter brunch, but three. The prices vary according to location: it's €22 to eat in the forge (10-14:00), €28 to eat in the country house (11-14:00) and only €12 to eat in the cowshed (10-12:00 and we're not making this up).

Lübars Family Farm | Alte Fasanerie 10, Berlin-Reinickendorf, Tel 030 4140 8859, www.familienfarmluebars. de Schloß Diedersdorf | Kirchplatz 5-6, Diedersdorf, Tel. 033 7935 350, www.schlossdiedersdorf.de

IN EXCELSIS BIO: To celebrate Easter the organic way, visit Domäne Dahlem on April 25 from 11-15 to hunt for coloured organic eggs scattered throughout the eco-farm's property. The event is free and even comes with a tractor ride. At Kloster Chorin near Eberswalde from April 22-25, you can visit a petting zoo filled with rabbits, Easter lambs and chickens, bake Easter bread (13-16:00) watch a puppet show (in German, April 24,25, 15:00) and even catch a concert. Berlin-based medieval singer Amy Green performs in the old church April 22 at 14:00. Festivities start at 9:00 and cost €4 for adults, €2.50 for children.

Domäne Dahlem | Königin-Luise-Str. 49, Dahlem, U-Bhf Dahlem Dorf, Tel. 030 6663 000, www.domaene-dahlem.de Kloster Chorin | Amt Chorin 11a, Chorin Brandenburg, Tel. 033 3667 0377, www.kloster-chorin.com

FIRE ABEND: Last, but not least, the German Ostern can't go down without the traditional Easter Fire. Schloß Diedersdorf lights the match at 18:00 on April 25. FEZ (Berlin's youth and family centre) starts their fire for early birds at 16:30, and they have one every day between April 22 and 25. Happy Easter!

FEZ | Apr 16-May 1, Strassezumfez 2, Berlin Schöneweide, Tel 030 530 710, S-

Bahn Wuhlheide, fez-berlin.com

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