The best walking tour of this entire trip was the Berlin Alternative Walking tour with Jonathan as our guide. When he first opened his mouth, I thought I was back in TO with my friend Peter – same voice, same English Accent, same hometown (London). I know Peter is thinking about what to do when he retires; maybe he should consider running a walking tour. And I’m sure he’ll have something to say about this in the comments below.
So, we spent a few hours in the Kreuzberg district, which includes the RAW hip-hop legal graffiti area. This is also the party-central area with many multi-day teckno parties, where anything and everything goes. Berlin has always been an avant-garde place with cabarets and such during and before the Weimar Republic. Then that went away for a big part of the 20th century. Well, it seems that it’s back now. Berlin seems like a very young, vibrant and energetic city.
The next day, we did the tourist thing and went to the Brandenburg gate, Checkpoint Charlie, etc. Just huge crowds of tourists. I wanted to visit Cafe Adler, just down the street from Checkpoint Charlie, which was a favourite spy meeting place during the cold war. Well, that’s gone now – replaced by a Starbucks-like place called Kaffee Einstein (nothing to do with Herr Albert). When I went in and asked about this, I was dissed by the very rude hipster waiter.
On our 3rd day in Berlin, we visited Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain). This is the highest point in Berlin, situated in a park in the west end. It was built from the rubble of the destroyed city during WW2. After the war, it was taken over by the NSA and the CIA to spy on Soviet radio communications. They abandoned it in 1991. and eventually it was seemingly taken over by the hip-hop community. I read about all this beforehand and thought it would be very exciting, maybe a little dangerous and certainly way off the tourist path.
I ignored Jonathan’s suggestion on how to get in and took my own route. We rode the subway, then walked through a residential neighbourhood until we found an opening into a thick forest. We walked through this forest for a much longer time than we expected, until we started to climb, and eventually a very narrow single-track path.
Then, out of nowhere, a mountain bike came flying by, then another, airborne! Chantal said, “Where are you taking us, anyway?” “Don’t worry,’ said I, “Google is always correct 😐.” It got steeper and steeper, narrower and narrower, with more mountain bikers, but they were nice. Lots of old concrete, pipes, and other debris. Finally, we came to a ancient barbed wire fence, with “ACHTUNG” and “NICHT BETRETEN” signs. I didn’t bring my wire cutters, so we had to keep walking to find a way in. I knew there must be a way, because of all the hip-hop gangs I read about.
Finally, the entrance to Teufelsberg. We explored what is a very safe area, almost a theme park now. They even have a pub, where I enjoyed a pint. We took the easy, but long, way back to civilization, which passed by the Teufelsberg See, a lake with a clothing-optional beach. (Sorry, no photos).
So, there are a lot of photos here. Please sit back, relax, and enjoy.
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