The best of Berlin in April

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.

The best of Berlin in April
Photo courtesy of Exberliner

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.,, €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

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,

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, Kloster Chorin | Amt Chorin 11a, Chorin Brandenburg, Tel. 033 3667 0377,

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,

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EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.