Gardens of the World, Berlin
What does a dragon tear taste like? How does it feel to inhale the fogs of the Huo mountain?
Stepping into the Chinese Teahouse at the Chinese Garden in the Gardens of the World (German: Gaerten der Welt) has always felt like disappearing into my secret oasis within the big concrete jungle we call Berlin. The tea set in front of me compares to one of a dollhouse: small teapots with even smaller porcelain cups that fit exactly one sip. I find something so peaceful in sitting on my cushioned chair, drinking my tea and overlooking the coy pond.
As I get up and walk towards the brim of the terrace, I try to get closer to the shiny orange fish, which speed along the shore, trying to race me. The swimming fish stir the water, breaking its tension, causing the sun’s reflection to sparkle on the surface. Eventually, the fish disappear under the lily roses.
The branches of the weeping willow softly swing in the soft summer winds. I can feel their leaves brush against my skin as I stand at the shore where tourists have thrown bronze and silver pennies into the water to make a wish.
One flick of the coin and flop, another piece of shiny metal becomes a piece of the underwater mosaic. What did I wish for? The best day with my love.
Spoiler alert: It came true.
The Gardens of the World is more dreamscape than landscape.
It’s also the only place I know that allows you to travel to seven countries in one day: Germany, England, Bali, Korea, China, Japan and the Orient (the East). But instead of taking a plane, a gondola and pathways get you from one place to another.
From a platform at the Kienberg, a hill in the parks center, you can overlook all the gardens and even see Berlin’s skyline showing a rather untypical face of the city: concrete panel housing.
Look down the hillside and you’ll see an untamed ocean of colors that has been hidden away under a thick blanket of leafy canopy.
Like teenage girls, the flowers have put on their prettiest look and sweetest scent only for one reason: to impress with success. They compete with their rainbow of colors and tell the stories of the bees and butterflies.
I dipped my toes into the cold spring waters at the Japanese garden. (#summergoals) The spring waters turn into a stream that runs beneath small trees down the hillside. An oversized zen-garden is at the heart of it: A pond of raked gravel imitates the pond that you’d expect the stream to end up in.
Similarly, the pavilion, a place of meditation and peace, thrones at the Korean garden over the waters as a symbol of calmness. Honestly, the moment I got there, I vowed to my husband that if we ever make our way to Korea and have the chance to visit a similar place, I will try out a meditation session. (And surprisingly, he told me he will join in.) I could already see myself laying out my yoga mat and my mind disappearing into complete silence.
While the Japanese and Korean garden are dominated by the color green, the Oriental garden is a kid’s dream: Colors outshining colors only kept in order by water-elements that bow to the beauty of the garden. So many times, I have seen children holding their hands into the arched streams of fountain water, splashing each other or racing along the pink courtyard walls that contain the garden and feature detailed blue and white tile art.
(This exact spot is my secret tip to you, if you are looking for a perfect (Instagram) photo location in Berlin that is unique and not overrun with tourists.)
Yet, nothing compares to Balinese Garden. It is my piece of heaven.
I ain’t gonna lie to you though. The Gardens of the World was the most beautiful at the International Garden Exhibition last year: more ornaments, more colors more gardens. (Although, unfortunately also more people. So I guess it evens out.) Yet, every single time I go to this tucked away gem, I come home with even better memories of this place.