When the Calgary Stampede Princesses contacted the Berlin Loves You crew for a tour of Kreuzberg, it was like getting a message from a different dimension.
After all: it’s easy to pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist in Berlin. We fall into the kneipe-cracks of our kiezes, swap stories of “what Berlin used to be way back when—” and feel a genuine love for the weirdo lives we’ve created. In that, we shake off knowledge of anywhere else.
But the Calgary Stampede Princesses, from “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth,” were storming in from their purple-mountain-majesties, ready to spread word of their incredible festival, the city of Calgary and the Indian Princess’ nearby tribe, and pick up a bit of Berlin knowledge along the way. And, perhaps only out of curiosity, Berlin Loves You decided we were ready for them.
Calgary Stampede Princesses Storm Kreuzberg
Calgary Stampede Queen Lindsay Lockwood, Princess Jaden Holle, Princess Jessica Wilson, and Indian Princess Cieran Starlight from the Tsuut’ina First Nation meet us on a particularly dreary, snow-speckled day, near the entrance to Tempelhof Airport.
Indian Princess Cieran wears a tribal coat—turquoise and dynamite-reds that sizzle against the grey of the airport, along with a full hood of fur. The Calgary Queen and Princesses smile in bright red lipstick, protected from the sleet with glowing white cowboy hats. These aren’t typical “pageant” girls: they’re Canadians, used to frigid temperatures and mud and horses, unafraid of a march through one of the worst Berlin winter days. Already, I respect them.
Immediately, it’s clear why these women are Calgary Royalty.
They speak eloquently, tell light jokes and “rein” (ha) us in with warm smiles, bantering about their travels, the Calgary city they so love, and their first impressions of Berlin.
As Andy-the-tour-guide delivers facts of Tempelhof Airport (what was meant to be the entrance of the world, had Hitler won), the “Candy Bomber” aircrafts that brought supplies to West Berlin during the late ‘40s, and the rubble women, responsible for yanking post-war Berlin up by the bootstraps and clearing the bomb-debris away, the Princesses ask hard-hitting questions with genuine interest.
For them, this is a different world—a first trip to Europe, centuries of dynamic history at their feet.
We stride through the grey chill, toward Viktoria Park. Indian Princess Cieran asks us questions about the flora and fauna of Berlin and tells us stories about life on the reservation—their celebrations, her many siblings (and her brother’s love of Rammstein), highlighting the fact that, despite an ocean and so many cultural differences between us, we all ain’t so different. The Calgary Princesses give us a run-down of what it takes to become a Princess—weeks-long stream of contests and speeches and horseback riding tasks.
I feel insanely proud to know them: the best of the best, revered by thousands, and eager to live as ambassadors across the world.
After a hike through the park (what would be a mere jaunt, in Canada), Princess Jessica points out a hawk, perched in a tree. Apparently, she’s a biologist—with a wealth of knowledge sizzling beneath that cowboy hat. As this is the Berlin Love You Crew’s first time outside the kneipe in maybe five years, we ogle the bird in the silent chill of the park.
The rest of the tour consists of a German lesson from our resident German, Kevin, at a near-perfect Berlin café, Turandot. “Ach, Ich habe mein Monats-karte zuhause legen gelassen!” and “Ich nehme bitte ein Döner ohne Zweibeln,” stutters out, mid-giggles and over Cappuccino and Americano.
The girls scour the PICKNWEIGHT Vintage Kilo Shop for goodies, before performing an impromptu, traditional Calgary Stampede line dance out front.
We finish the tour—how else?—with currywurst and fries, huddling together as the rain continues to pepper just beyond the overhang. Everywhere we go, people stare, questioning their cowboy hats, their tribal coat—and, surely (as it is Berlin), their smiles.
But they bring a bright face to an otherwise desolate Berlin winter day, and they’re met with (initially tentative) approval from the city’s people.
The Calgary Stampede Princesses represent a far different world than our Berlin reality. But their rapt attention for the city we love is flattering, endearing. We part with half-believed promises that one day, they’ll show us Calgary, their mountains, the Indian tribe. Somehow, despite our English, Welsh, German, American, and Canadian backgrounds, we find commonalities, banter. It’s the kind of warmth that can only exist between strangers.
Thanks to the Calgary Stampede Princesses for their visit. Good luck, and come back any time. Berlin welcomes you.
Camera: Canon EOS 6D