Sunny spring days make me want to take a big picnic to the nearest park.
The recent earthquake in New Zealand and now Japan (and the sad loss and disruption of so many lives) made me think about my own; and how instead of embracing it the fullest, I sometimes whine and bitch too much. So since the sun’s been on his best behaviour recently, I decided to embrace the day and spend an afternoon in Kreuzberg’s Victoria Park. (Sans picnic basket because there’s a really delicious Doner Kebap stand on the way there.)
One is the view. The park is on a small hill, from the peak, you get the most amazing view of the city (that you don’t have to pay for), in particular of Grossbeeren Strasse, the street that radiates from the park. Grossbeeren means ‘big berry’ in German – isn’t that a cute name for a street!
At its highest point sits a large iron monument to a Prussian King (Frederick William III) – it’s a nice place to have a quiet chat with friends or just to sit and reflect as you take in the view. Bring a small picnic, some coffee and cake and your camera.
The short climb to the top is a bit steep, so it’s not a good idea to take your bike, but the walk up gives it gives you plenty of time to appreciate the pretty little man-made waterfall that flows down from the monument to a small pool at the foot of the hill.
The second reason is Mustafa’s Gemuse Kebap, one of the better doner kebaps I’ve tasted so far.
This is a truly delicious tasting doner kebap…sluuuurp!
A big hunk of chicken turns and roasts on the spit. Paper thin strips are rapidly sliced off and stuffed into pockets of warmly toasted flat bread. The juices of the kebap collect in pool at the bottom. Mmm…what I wouldn’t give to spoon some of that over my doner! At the front is a long glass counter filled with all kinds of salads: ruby red cabbage, peridot green iceberg lettuce, glistening gems of cucumber and tomato seasoned with parsley and other herbs.
Gemuse means ‘vegetable’ in German and Mustafa’s actually specialises in vegetarian doners. So instead of having the meat, you can have a generous helping of roasted vegetables – sweet carmelised nuggets of zucchini, eggplant, carrots, onions and potatoes
I’ve heard that the kebap has overtaken the currywurst as the most popular fast food here. You can make the comparison for yourself at Curry 36 (just next door), one of the more ‘famous’ currywurst imbisses here (imbis means ‘snack’ in German).
There is also has a long line of people (including many tourists) who come here just to try the currywurst. Their home-made ‘curry ketchup’ sauce really very good and they roast the wursts (sausage) to crispy-skinned perfection. I wouldn’t go especially to eat it, but if you’re already there and the queue isn’t too long, it’s worth a try.
These are just two of the attractions of Kruezberg. There are lots of other interesting things to explore in the neighbourhood, with its busy restaurants and bars and the crazy mix of artistic and Turkish influences (including the amazing Turkish Market on Maybachufer), but those are posts for another day…
To get to Victoria Park: the closest Ubahn station is Mehringdam (U6, U7).
Exit on the Yorckstrasse side, pick up a currywurst or doner, walk down Mehringdam past the Yorckstrasse/Gneisenaustrasse cross street until Kreuzbergstrasse. Make a right on Kreuzbergstrasse and walk down until park entrance on Grossbeerenstrasse.