It’s already 3 weeks ago since we were in Berlin. Berlin has always been a favorite city of mine and one of the few I don’t mind returning to. On the day of our arrival it had been exactly 7 years since my first visit to Berlin. Coincidence? Ever since my first trip there, the city stayed in my mind and always left me wanting more. So… time to return!
We spent most of our time walking because that’s what we enjoy doing most. The perfect place for some walking seemed Tempelhof Airport, once the most important airport in Berlin and one of the three iconic pre-WWII airports in Europe. When airlines started to use the other Berlin airports Tegel and Schönefeld and plans for a new airport (still to be opened Brandenburg) were made, the airport finally closed down in 2008 and was reopened in 2010 as a city park.
I’ve always been fascinated by airports. You can just leave me at one and I won’t be bored. You can read all my suggestions on how not to be bored in an airport here. So it was an easy choice to go there to Tempelhof. It was quite clear on the U-Bahn map how to get there (U6 to Alt Mariendorf) but which stop to get off… no idea! We ended up exiting at Platz der Luftbrücke which turned out to be a good choice, as it was just across the main terminal of the former airport. Tempelhof is one of the well known Nazi architecture constructions and what can I say… it’s just plain ugly! Just see for yourself.
The main building is not abandoned anymore, it is in use for various things such as galleries and fairs. We decided to walk around the abandoned buildings (formers hangars 1 and 2) and take the 1.5 km walk towards the main entrance to the west side of the Tempelhof Park. By then I was pretty excited as it just seemed very cool to me to walk and sit and jump on a real runway.
After a half an hour stroll we found a gate to enter the grounds. First there were the taxi lanes, then we had to cross a grass track and then … we were on the runway. Just like that! And with us there were plenty more people. They were rollerblading, running, cycling, walking, kiting … anything you can think of that you can do at an abandoned runway. Well not really abandoned obviously, but unused. We took some pictures, then got an icecream and just walked. A runway may seem short when in an aircraft but it’s incredibly long when you are walking on it.
While walking around I recalled this episode of National Geographic’s “Air Crash Investigation”. In case you don’t know this show, don’t ever watch it. Everytime I’m onboard an aircraft every sign that something *could* be wrong pretty much freaks me out. Yes, I know, it’s an embarrassing thing. Anyway, that episode was about an abandoned airport in the US where a plane in trouble landed while people while people were having picknicks and BBQ’s there. When doing some research for this article I read this has actually happened in Tempelhof as well, back in 2010. That must have been, uhm, weird!
After spending some time walking we ended up at the northern entrance. Here they had a small cafe, bathrooms, a possibility to ride a Segway (OMG, isn’t that so 2012?) and a BBQ field. As the sun was setting and we were cold and hungry, we decided to leave the airport and head back to our hotel. But not before taking a pizza at the Trattoria across he entrance. We had the best Calzone ever and the wine and beer was plenty, easily rolling us back to the hotel.
Walking through this park was definitely an great experience. If you are ever in Berlin and out of ideas what to do, consider this!
Have you ever been to an abandoned airport? Would you consider going here when in Berlin?
Also read: Warnemunde – a great trip from Berlin by fellow blogger Cheryl!