Walkabout: Spree ahoi! Terra firma and wobbly planks
by Julia Cornelius / translation by Rachel Marks
North of Rignbahn station Treptower Park, three high-rise buildings huddle together, trying to look as downtown as they can; the abrupt glass and concrete needles mark the edge of the city and the beginning of nature. In the shadow of the Treptowers  a path leads across the multi-lane street to the southern bank of the Spree. In the distance you might catch a glimpse of the Molecule Man  and a half-sunken ship . The first buildings of the hotly debated Mediaspree development project - a major bone of contention that aims to conquer both sides of the river from here all the way into the city - are slightly visible. Further up the river, an old saloon steamer awaits. It was a harrowing journey from Szczecin's harbor to Berlin, even if the Restaurantschiff Hoppetosse  (its current guise) didn't have to deal with Fitzcarraldo-scale difficulties. The low bridges between here and there were obstacle enough, forcing the crew to weld off the upper deck, pull it to the Treptower pier by tugboat, and then re-weld it back on top. Enjoy a coffee or bier from the deck to ogle the bathers at the Badeschiff  and the onion-top towers of the Oberbaumbrücke.
On the weekend the Treptower flea market  in the former bus depot offers a treasure trove of oddities; cross the Arena Halle to the Landwehrkanal on the banks of which a flight of stairs leads down the slope to Club der Visionäre . Creatures of the night gather here on massive pontoons while soft electro beats pulse in the air. On the opposite bank, across the small Oberfreiarchenbrücke, the somewhat more sedate café-restaurant Freischwimmer  also offers coffee, cake, and dinner directly on the water's edge. At the watchtower  you'll find surely one of Berlin's best beer gardens, Heinz Minki , whose main building also has a cocktail bar, and then it's back toward town along Schlesische Straße to the café-bar Cake , complete with 1960s décor and a stocked jukebox. A few strides further down the street you'll find Myslivska , which at the right time of night is not merely a bar but a state of being. At Falckensteinstraße take a right back toward the Oberbaumbrücke, where the charming café San Remo Upflämor  with its 1950s flair offers you a terrific view of the elevated tracks and the U-Bahn cutting through the city. Similarly, from the Oberbaumbrücke, take a moment to enjoy the fantastic view out over Treptower Park.
Follow your growling stomach to Schlesischer Tor, a veritable trove of snacks and the night owls consuming them, before continuing to Falckensteinstraße until you reach Görlitzer Park. If it's a weekend night, you'll be pressed to find a quiet nature-filled experience in this park among the grilling and partying masses. Follow Görlitzer Straße past some quiet older residential buildings to the Heckmannufer and from there back to Schlesische Straße. Just past one of the few remaining watchtowers of the Wall, Puschkinallee will take you back to Treptower Park station.
1. Treptowers | The high rises look a bit lost there on the river's banks, and the "Sink Mediaspree" initiative hopes to keep it that way | An den Treptowers 3
2. Molecule Man | The 100-foot steel figures supposedly represent the reunification of East and West | Spreepromenade
3. MS Dr. Ingrid Wengler | A pitiful-looking wreck in the former GDR border-control port | Promenade at the Twintowers
4. MS Hoppetosse | Afternoon coffee or late-night party - the view of the Oberbaumbrücke is beautiful in any weather | Eichenstraße 4 | www.arena-berlin.de/hoppetosse
5. Badeschiff | Topless in the summer, during the winter it's covered - the Badeschiff gets the Berlin scenesters wet | November through March - sauna, heated pool; May through October - pool, beach | Eichenstraße 4 | www.arena-berlin.de/badeschiff
6. Hallentrödelmarkt Treptow | Those who want to stay dry during their weekend-long bargain hunt should head to this indoor flea market | Saturdays and Sundays 10 am - 5 pm | Eichenstraße 4
7. Club der Visionäre | Club and Pizzeria | Dance and party outside by the water while waving to the café clientele across the canal | Am Flutgraben 1 | www.clubdervisionaere.de
8. Freischwimmer | The more sedate version of canal-side romanticism across the way from Club der Visionäre: restaurant and "water lounge" | Am Schlesischen Graben 2a | www.freischwimmer-berlin.de
9. Wachturm Typ BT 9 | The Wall is gone; only this watchtower still remains at its post on the death strip-cum-sunbathing lawn | Puschkinallee, Schlesischer Busch
10. Heinz Minki | The enclosed garden is one of Berlin's best spots for an outdoor beer; well-made cocktails preside indoors | Vor dem Schlesischen Tor 3
11. Cake | A cozy flashback to the 1960s, jukebox and all | Schlesische Straße 32
12. Myslivska | This bar is not a place but a state of being; accordingly, it doesn't open until 8 pm | Schlesische Straße 35
13. San Remo Upflamör | Music, café and the raised tracks of the U1 train - pure urban romanticism | Falckensteinstraße 46