Spring, and even summer, does not often spoil Germany with warm evenings, when you can sit outside at a street café or a Biergarten.
Yet whenever the sun has been out all day, and the temperatures are still moderate enough, you are sure to find Germany’s folks sitting outside, at their local café, in front of an ice cream parlor, in a beer garden, on a manmade beach in the middle of town, or even in their own back yard.
To “chill and grill,” is the motto for warmer summer days like that. Since they are rare and eagerly anticipated, they are not wasted with visits to a museum or the cinema. Instead we love to sit outside for hours and enjoy a Milchkaffee, or a glass of wine, some ice cream, or – even better – something directly off your own barbecue.
We can sit outside with friends at a street café for hours without having to buy anything much after the initial drink. So we can really enjoy a whole evening just sitting there talking and watching others stroll by.
Equally fun is a “grilling evening” with friends where everyone brings something to share. This includes, meat, which of course includes Bratwurst, and lots of salads and breads. Bringing a bottle of beer or wine, or sparkling water for the driver, is appreciated.
Although we are allowed to drink (moderately!) and drive in Germany, the limit is low, so you are wise to stop after one beer. It’s not really important what you drink, or what you eat, just being together is what counts, and that is probably why “Grillen” is sometimes called the number one German sport.
If we don’t have our own yard, and if we don’t own a “Schrebergarten“, a garden plot in the suburbs, we pack our stuff, including a little disposable barbeque, and go directly to the nearest public park. Barbeques are so much a part of our lives that it is allowed in most of the parks.
Take notice next time you are walking down Germany’s streets. You are sure to hear whispering and mumbling, mingled with a whiff of music, from every direction – from behind every hedge and around every street corner. All this wonderful commotion comes from people sitting outside, meeting friends, having something to drink or a bite to eat. That at least is what I’ve experienced as a typical warm spring or summer day in Germany.
I’m looking forward to many, many evenings this year, sitting around bonfires in our yards, somebody strumming a guitar, sharing a glass of wine or champagne with friends and singing old songs until we’re exhausted. Then we’ll just sit there quietly, enjoying the warm breeze, gazing into the flames and listening to our friend’s quietly sing, as we dream…. Another German Sommermärchen.