Its Sunday, So You Have to Take Things Easy
My first Sunday in Berlin was a bleary one. Staying at a hostel close to the Oberbaumbrücke, I had no job and was failing quite badly on the taking it easy and not spending too much money side of things. So after dragging myself out of the dorm room at a halfway reasonable hour, I collected what bottles there were in the room thinking that maybe I'd be able to get enough on the Pfand to get a coffee or another beer.
Upon reaching to the Kaisers, I was greeted by an empty shop with darkened lights and two punks with dogs. They were leaning against the front door looking like they had doing what I'd been doing all weekend, for the last twenty years. Slightly confused I made my way back to the hostel and asked for the nearest supermarket that was open. With a befuddled look and a slight laugh the receptionist tells me “it's Sunday, all of them are closed.”
Ladenschlussgesetz ("Shop Closing Law"), is something that is not much use to you if you work in the food service industry. But if not, it can be one of the greatest things about living in this city. It is a micro-holiday from a consumer capitalism that has its roots in Catholicism, and that is still held onto by secularist and non-secularist alike as their right to just chill out for one day a week.
Having grown up in Ireland, where this used to be the norm but having been long abandoned for an extra day to shop, I was surprised that this still happened anywhere. It can be difficult if you forget to pick up milk, bread, etc or realize that right now is the only time you'll have this week bring back that crate of empty Sterni, but you get used to it. Spending time with friends or just taking it easy seems to be worth the packed queues on Saturday night.
Now with this hilariously mild winter slowly breaking into spring again, I try and get down to my spot by the boules court in Xberg to watch the myriad of people pass. Couples with shouting children, old men with their dogs trailing behind, the occasional pack of clubbers in dark shades keeping out what light there is. They all pass slowly by with an ease that is rare in other cities, each taking their time between the clacks of the balls and the pops of caps from cold bottles.
Francis T. Spurling