I was walking through Wannsee in the summer, and I was thinking about how lovely the woods that surround Berlin are. I got quite into outdoor sports last summer, and I thought to myself “I should find a good way to enjoy the outdoors in winter too.” I’ve always been a skier, and I feel that skiing is the only reason for winter existing. I hate winter and think it’s just overall too cold and dark, but skiing made up for it a bit. However, Berlin is lacking one key element to downhill skiing- mountains. Back home, we have lots of mountains and skiing and snowboarding are popular sports, but here, one needs to have the time and money to go elsewhere, and when you grow up being able to drive to a ski hill in less than an hour, it feels really inconvenient and unnecessarily expensive. My summer walk inspired me, however, and I decided to take up cross-country skiing, aka “langlaufski fahren” in German. It’s a ski sport that doesn’t involve hills, so it seemed perfect for Berlin!
I managed to find some used skis from the DDR on ebay. I also got some poles and boots. All together, the lot cost me about 40 Euro. I’d say that if you’re interested in buying cross-country skis in Germany, ebay is a good bet, and it’s cheaper to get everything separately. Also, items in your city for pick-up only are a lot cheaper, as they wont get bids from people out of town. I found that the only problem was that it was a bit tricky to get poles. Most poles that came up on a search were for the nordic walking poles, even when I specifically searched under ski equipment. Also, you have to mind the bindings. Older skis have bindings called NN75 (the ones with the three prongs that the boots clip into), and you have to get boots that match. Newer ones have clip-in bindings.
If you don’t want to buy skis, there are a number of places in Berlin that rent them. A google.de search will get you lots of results, but if you’re lazy, these are the top results I found when I was looking for a friend:
Cheapest, but in Schoeneberg…maybe not so convenient if you’re in Mitte/P-berg/X-berg.
Pricey, but conveniently located in Prenzlauer Berg
Mid-price, and convenient in Tiergarten
Of course, what’s “convenient” depends on where you live. Perhaps you live in the West and Schoeneberg is easier for you. I’m just going by where I am.
There are a lot of great places to cross-country ski in Berlin. Pretty much any park with good pathways will do, and the outer edges of the city contain a lot of park lands. I was considering going to Mueggelsee, but I opted for Wannsee as I was going alone and felt it would be best to go where there would be a few more people. Also, it was a walk through Wannsee that inspired my decision to cross-country ski. I had a fun time. It’s tough if you’re used to downhill skiing, and it’s a definite workout even if you’re fit. The snow was a bit thin (as you’ll see in the photos) but it was ok to learn. I got some strange looks on the S-Bahn on the way there, but I ran into several people on the pathways who thought it was really cool. Apparently many residents of Zehlendorf cross-country ski.
Anyway, now for photos!
(The lake was frozen. People were skating on it, and I was told I would be able to ski on it, but I opted not to, because I figured that if something happened, I was alone and no one would be there to help).
Update, December 8, 2012:
I found another place on Google that rent out cross-country skis! Here is another option around P-berg/Wedding that’s pretty affordable!