I was delighted to be asked to accompany the Madrid based skate school (madridpatina.com) on their annual international trip with their clients, this time to Berlin. Working and skating with MadridPatina for me is always great fun as the instructors are my friends and colleagues with whom I can talk about skating, work, teaching techniques and all aspects of running a skate school. It is so valuable to have access to different ideas and resources. I jumped at the chance to join them in Berlin, also allowing me to do my Berlin trip research (look out for details for September this year or spring next).
I arrived late thursday evening and imagined I might wake up my room mates (8 in a dorm youth hostel). I forgot, they were spanish and the room was deserted until they returned from ‘dinner’ at midnight. They have endless amounts of energy.
We started skating on Friday at 11am after a briefing my Javi (the big boss who very seriously showed us the route map…) The day’s tour followed an outer city loop through different neighbourhoods and some of the more industrial areas, but often skating alongside rivers on cool shaded paths. The weather was boiling hot and sunny, just how I like it. I noticed that Berlin’s pavements were a mixture of 3 different types of cobble stones (all skateable although some tricky) and cycle paths of smooth tiles. The roads are beautiful smooth (no gravel) tarmac (like Paris pavements). We were a group of over 100 skaters and we followed the cycle lanes whether they were on roads or pavements. This worked very well.
The tour took us all over the north of the city to lunch stop in Alexanderplatz and returning via the south to our hostel. Total 35km. It was good to get closer to some of the famous Berlin sites like the Brandenburg Gate, Holocaust Memorial and of course The Wall.
Saturday 5th June
I had heard about Fleaming skate and how beautiful is was but nothing can really prepare you for the perfection that is the largest recreational rural skate environment in Europe (located 40mins by train from Berlin). A series of interconnected pathways (totalling 115km), Fleaming Skate is a skaters’ paradise where the surface is so smooth it feels like you are indoors and there is almost zero debris (they sweep it every day so no nasty twigs). You can skate for miles and just enjoy the scenery passing by, forests and woods filling your head with the fresh scent of pine, fields of grasses and other crops, hedgerows and pasture land. Everything was lush and green and better still the weather was boiling with clear blue skies to greet us.
We skated for 50km and yet it didn’t feel that taxing or difficult (due to the surfaces, lack of slopes and engaging scenery). The lunchtime stop in a sunny pub garden saw the pub run out of glasses and also cakes – when you skate that much in a day, any cake is doable. I was also lucky to exchange a short treatment with one of their clients, a physiotherapist with an interesting muscle testing and correction procedure. There were options during the day so skate faster or slower, do additional loops and control the total amount of kms skated. I felt stronger at the end than I had during the morning and experienced many exhilirating feelings during the day. The pure magic that is skating truely hit me over and over when such a perfect environment for it exists. I felt light, and full of energy. Those Germans are lucky. I have noticed however that in countries where the surfaces are perfect, there is less of a culture of having tuition and the ‘average’ skating standard is not very high. This confirms my theory that if you can skate well in London, you will stand out anywhere.
Sunday morning I did not feel so light and my knee was grumbling in the first 2 hours of Sunday’s city tour. But it did get warmed up and started enjoying Berlin’s buildings and monuments, riverside paths, bridges, squares, parks and large boulevards. The city is very quiet on Sundays and we enjoyed being on the roads and being very free to enjoy. Lunch in Alexanderplatz was possibly the longest wait for food ever, but the ice cream afterwards was enough to make up for it. Hazelnut is truely a German speciality and worth trying!. We made use of our breaks doing short dance classes and playing skate games, providing ‘entertainment’ for the onlookers.
Berlin is a very skateable city and small enough to really get a feel for it over a day or two of skating and going out to eat. I’m told the beer is of superior quality and the Spaniards definitely seemed to confirm that in their enthusiastic consumption. Not such a great deal for vegetarians although I did enjoy the saurkraut (which noone wanted to eat) which came with everyone’s assorted sausages.
I finished off my work trip by seeing 2 old friends who live in Berlin and had the opportunity to step into their lives for a day each. Mark and Tanja, I thank you for your self less hospitality and open hearted welcome. I find this deeply relaxing, not having to make any decisions and just follow and be. One thing I know for sure; Skatefresh will be doing our next overseas trip to Berlin, possibly in Septmber this year (or if not in spring 2011). Please let us know if you wold be interested in a September trip. There is more to do in Berlin but mostly I want to skate there with my clients andshow everyone Fleaming skate as soon as possible.