With only two days left in Berlin, we wanted to see as much as we possibly could. There really is so much to see and do in the German capital so it was a tough choice. We’d done all the traditional and true touristy things so we decided to do something a bit random and headed to Bergmannkiez. In the handy Lonely Planet Pocket Book of Berlin that I’d bought, there was a walking tour of the area so we decided to follow this as best we could. Some people really are against travel guides, but for me they really do help you to see some off the beaten track sites and discover some real hidden gems that you might never had known about otherwise.
Once we arrived in Bergmannkiez, after getting the train to Gneisenaustr we headed to the main neighbourhood where the streets were lined with dozens of cafes, restaurants and little indie boutiques. Despite the drizzle of rain that was threatening to ruin our plans, all the little tables outside the cafes were filled with people sipping on their cappuccinos, so we decided to join them. Berlin is surprisingly chilled. I always assumed that Berlin would be like London with everyone in a hurry and running around, but it felt like the complete opposite.
After having a little caffeine boost, we continued to walk the cobbled streets which were lined with old townhouses. They all had wrought-iron balconies with window boxes filled with colourful flowers. Amongst the townhouses was Chasmissoplatz, a square which has been almost unchanged since the 1900’s. There was a small garden in the middle, which no doubt if the sun was out, would have been a pretty place to sit, but underneath the grey sky, it just looked dull.
From the cobbled streets, we headed to what we felt would be something a bit unusual. It was Tempelhofer Feld which was an abandoned airport. It first found fame in 1948 when it handled the Berlin Airlift during World War II. In 2008, the airport closed and has since been left as a recreational space for the public. When we arrived, we almost felt we were trespassing as we walked around outside the airport building itself trying to find the entrance. We kept waiting for someone to come over and usher us out. After about a 10-minute walk, we did eventually find a sign that pointed us in the direction of the entrance, so we felt better knowing that we could actually get into the site.
When I’d been doing some research on line about Tempelhofer Feld, I saw images of an abandoned airplane, so that was what I was really looking forward to seeing. Once we entered the field, we went in search of the plane. It was such an eerie experience being in an derelict airport. There were not that many people which made it even spookier!
Over in the distance we could see a fence with some trees gathered around it. We headed in that direction and once we were close enough to peak through the fence, we could see an old airplane. I’d found what I was looking for! But, I was disappointed that we couldn’t get up close to it or even get any good pictures. There was only one thing left to do to get a great shot and that was to get the drone up and above it. Barry quickly scrambled to put the drone together but once it was ready and all switched on, nothing happened. He kept trying but it just wouldn’t take off. It’s a very hi-tech drone and because of that, it means that it’s programmed not to take off near an airport for safety reasons. Although this airport was no longer in use, it was obviously still registered as one so sadly for us it meant no drone footage. Once again, Barry’s technology and failed him and he was disappointed.
Failure behind us, we continued having a look around the field. It was huge and so I was still convinced there that might be another plane hiding somewhere. There were some interesting finds, including a giant tin can, crazy golf and a quirky community garden. Inside the garden, someone had spent a lot of time being very creative with the flower beds. There was a wheelbarrow, a house, a tree all made out of wood and even a bench and some chairs if you wanted a sit down. The beds were filled with all sorts of fruit and vegetables – strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, carrots. It was quite intriguing how random it all was and how someone had obviously spent a lot of time and effort on it, but there was no one around looking after it all.
We continued exploring the park and up in the distance I could see a hill in the middle of the huge flat field. We headed over to it curious to see if it led to anywhere. As we reached the hill and made our way through the tall grass, we found ourselves surrounded by beautiful flowers in all sorts of colours, but there in the distance I could see the plane I was looking for. It was sectioned off with a small fence, but you could still get a really good view of it. Given how expensive planes are, I found it quite surprising that they would just get left to wither away to nothing. It felt quite eerie, just sitting there, like a disaster had happened and everyone had to abandon it. The birds were making good use of it though, they were flying into gaps in the wings so had obviously built nests there. At least it hadn’t gone completely to waste.
Just passed the plane and back down the hill, we found ultimate evidence that this was an old abandoned airport – the runway!
By now the sun had come out and it was actually getting quite warm. After playing airplanes on the runway, we decided to continue on with our walking tour. The next stop was the Luftbruckendenkmal which is the Berlin Airlift Memorial. It was situated just outside the old airport inside a pretty little park. It did take a good 15 minutes or so to walk there as the airport is just so huge. The Memorial was a large concrete structure of three spikes which represents the three air corridors used by the Western Allies during the war.
From here, we had just one more stop to make and that was to the highest natural elevation in Berlins inner district. It was Viktoriapark which homes 66-metre high Kreuzberg hill and a stunning waterfall. We walked through the park and eventually arrived at the Prussian National Monument for the Liberation Wars, a cast iron monument of 1821 dedicated by King Frederick William III of Prussia. Once we got to the top there were lots of people sitting, taking in the view over Central Berlin. Leading down from the monument, was the Kreuzberg waterfall. The water tumbled down over rocks and ledges and under little bridges along the way finally coming to a stop at street level where it fell into a little lake.
By this point we were all walked out so it was time to head back and get ready for dinner. I’d heard about what is apparently considered Berlin’s best Chinese restaurant called Good Friends. It was within walking distance from our hotel, but was still about 20 minutes. As we started to make our way there, the rain came back. And this time it wasn’t just drizzle, it was a full on heavy shower. Luckily Barry was sensible and was wearing a waterproof jacket, unlike my little cotton bomber. We covered our heads with the jacket and sped walked to the restaurant. When we arrived, we had a good feeling about it. It was filled with Asian people which is always a good sign that the food must be good. In the centre of the restaurant was a big TV screen airing the football, so we took a table right at the back in the corner. We didn’t want to block anyone’s view!
Always up for trying something new, we opted for the most exotic thing on the menu that we could find – jellyfish and 1000 year old eggs. When the dish came out, it was safe to say that although the eggs weren’t actually 1000 years old, they did look pretty ancient. They were all black and jelly like. The jellyfish was actually OK. It didn’t really taste of anything and had a rubbery texture. Barry didn’t really like it and I didn’t really like the eggs, so at least we weren’t fighting over them!
By the time we left, the rain had thankfully stopped and we could make our way home without hiding under a jacket. Unluckily for Barry, he had a hole in the bottom of his trainer, so he had to walk home in squelchy shoes which barely dried out ready for our final day in Berlin…
Here is the route we took on today’s mini-tour!