Picnic and Grill Culture

Picnics and BBQ in the Park

Couldn’t ask for a nicer way to spend an afternoon.

On a sunny afternoon, or even cloudy for that matter, walking the short distance to one of the large open spaces of Clara-Zetkin-Park is a perfect way to spend a few hours outdoors. It’s the largest park in the city. The river Elster flows through it, there are ponds, playgrounds, trails, paths, biergartens, and a gazebo.  Different types of trees are all over the place, there are waste bins located at every entrance and throughout on the more traveled upon paths. Individuals, families with small children, friends, partners, large groups of all ages go to the park. You can watch as people canoe or kayak along the river, see type-rope amateurs practicing, people playing soccer and other games, or sit and read a book.

river

I am thrilled with my apartment location in the city because I am a short walk away from this park.  Spring has taken the city by storm (not literally, we’ve been lucky to have some pretty sunny days – and yes, irony, as a Canadian I am talking about the weather). There is so much green space everywhere, and people love to be outside. So do I!

On any given sunny afternoon or evening, if I walk through Clara-Zetkin-Park, I know without doubt I will see at least a few small groups having a picnic or grilling. As it is very common for people in Germany to own a grill, usually the portable kind for making their way to a park.

backyard

Comparison note: while living in Southern Ontario in Canada, I chose to live in apartments located in houses instead of apartment building complexes, meaning that I always had a lawn (and therefore, was able to barbecue).  Perhaps part of the reason why picnics and BBQs in the park are so popular here (and I assume larger Germany), is because people don’t have the individual space for it, so going to one of the many green spaces makes for a community-esque experience.  Also, legally able to drink anywhere I’m sure contributes to the BBQ culture.

smoker

There’s also some German game that I see people playing while they are picnicking with friends in the park.  The game contains small, wooden blocks that seem to be positioned in a certain way, followed by people taking turns gently tossing another small piece of wood at the positioned pieces. My assumption is that it’s something along the lines of lawn bowling?  Anyone want to shed light on this for me?

block game

At nearby super markets, you can buy a disposable grill for around 6 Euros that comes with the little grill, fire starter, and the charcoal.  Alternatively, I’ve seen charcoal grills as low as 20 Euros that pack up compactly and look easy to transport. A bag of charcoal also isn’t very costly – it is just a matter of carrying it plus all the food and drinks along.  I understand why grilling happens often in groups = more people to evenly distribute the weight of carrying supplies!

I don’t own a BBQ, yet. Friends recently bought one on Amazon for about 20 Euros and it reminds me of a metal turtle shell because it is a lighter green.  It was a delightful evening to have a BBQ picnic with these friends. We had potatoes and top sirloin beef, along with Sekt and wein. It looks as though Germans usually bring along a salad, depending on the group size different kinds of meats, and maybe some fruit or yogurt (or quark – Germans LOVE their quark) for dessert.

grill

Get outside, soak up the vitamin D, and enjoy the environment. I think I am hit by Seasonal Affective Disorder, and affects millions of people each year. So when the opportunity presents itself, I encourage myself – and you – to enjoy the blue sunny skies, on incredibly green grass.

Happy Spring fellow folks in the Northern Hemisphere!

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