Breweries tell stories and the abandoned Bärenqull Brewey in the former East Berlin is no exception.
There aren’t many things as good as a cold beer; the condensation on the glass as the label wrinkles, the unmistakable and satisfying sound of the top as it pops off of the bottle only ever wanting to be free.
We don’t often think about where these glass bottles of heavenly liquid are made or the long process behind how beer is pefected.
The Bärenquell brewery was created in 1888 and was situated in East Berlin during the time of the Cold War. After the fall of the Berlin Wall many East Berliners decided that they preferred the refreshing taste of a new capitalist country with beer brands which matched those ideologies.
Abandoned in 1994 the brewery fell into disrepair and now the red brick walls have become a blank canvas. A canvas not only for graffiti artists but for anyone who knows how to handle a spray paint can or is seeking a little adventure in the city of Berlin.
The complex is huge and could take a good few hours to explore. We wandered through the different sections of the old brewery and tried to piece together the functions of each building.
The tall mill and brewery tower still stand. While barley and hops don’t pass through the large drums the only life are trees that have somehow managed to creep up the outside walls and grow through any crack creating a stark contrast of green splashed on the red brick.
More colour has been splashed across the building and the artworks bring more character to this brewery with so many stories. From small pieces to wall murals these pieces of art captivate any visitor.
Broken glass scatters the floor and some had been strangely arranged in piles as though someone had been looking to clean up the place but had given up.
Old burnt out cars sit in the manufacturing hall and bottling plant. If you look closely enough you can find the old neglected beer labels and coasters covered in 20 years worth of dirt and grime.
The old office provides any intruder with an insider’s point of view. Old files lay on the floor opened with crumbled and curled edge papers scattered around only longing to be straight, uniform and systematically ordered once more.
This huge complex is crying out for visitors or for someone to give it a purpose. On my visit I didn’t see anyone else and I wondered how much longer this brewery would stay so isolated after its near hundred year existence. Or if it would ever relive it’s glory days where a unique East Berlin beer quenched the thirst of the population.
It now seems that the only thirst quenching qualities this huge complex provides is for that of street artists or for adventurers looking to do something unique and off the beaten track in the fascinating city of Berlin.
An airport without travellers is like night without day; the two naturally coincide. Berlin Tempelhof, an abandoned airport, has arrival halls that hold the excitement of past passengers where the memories of heartfelt goodbyes fade like the paint on the walls. It is something so unique and bizarre because it is not often airport walls tell a story to people who are willing to listen, rather than travel in another direction.
The story of this airport is an interesting one and a two hour guided tour of the airport will give you a complete idea of the grandeur of the building and the tales of struggle and triumph which have since been neglected and ignored.
Before the 1970’s the Tempelhof airport had seen over six million travellers and the facilities trump any other airport. Walking through the airport would make anybody feel so insignificant because of the sheer size. Knowing the history of Germany makes it even more intriguing and made me question the sheer capabilities of man.
Hitler had imagined great things for this airport and wanted it to serve as a multi purpose building. It would not only be an airport but would also allow for hundreds of thousands of people to gather to listen to the captivating speeches and the calculated propaganda which fuelled the basis of the Nazi Party during the Second World War. Hitler wanted Berlin to be redesigned and Tempelhof was only the beginning of this wildly overestimated plans.
This enormous building; shaped like an eagle spreading its wings, was the largest of its kind when it was built. It has since been the inspiration for many of the world’s most modern and busiest airports. It still ranks third as the tallest building in the world in terms of floor area.
During the Second World War it held in its broad grasp a prison camp. Hundreds of political prisoners were held here in 20 barracks which were destroyed after the war when the Allies took control of the area.
The Americans used the airport as their base during the Cold War for the Berlin Blockade. The Berlin Blockade saw the Allied forces bringing in supplies to West Berlin when the USSR blocked all land routes into Berlin through East Germany.
Planes were landing here every minute with essential supplies for the citizens in West Berlin. The air traffic at this airport was busier than that of London Heathrow and if pilots weren’t on time they had to fly back to their starting point and try again at a later stage.
When these soldiers weren’t constantly bringing in a stream of supplies they lived in the self-sufficient airport complex. Many soldiers had their own rooms in the barracks and didn’t have to share. There was a grocery store, basketball court, entertainment room, restaurant and bar. Soldiers were able to live their free time here and to escape the world outside where the Berlin Wall stood tall and mighty while separating different ideologies.
One story which I found most interesting was that of the Raisin Bombers or Candy Bombers as they were commonly known. Gail Halvorsen, one an American pilot, used to regularly fly into Tempelhof and he would drop candy and chocolate bars attached to handkerchiefs creating parachutes of joy for those children living below. The Candy Bombers created hope and happiness in a time of struggle. This is just one tale from this historic place and a visit to the airport will provide any curious traveller with the chance to hear what the wall have to say.
Now the buildings wait for visitors and the runways have become an outdoor oasis for families. Children race on bikes race down the middle and the health concious sprint down the 2km strip. If you were interested in visiting the airport then have a look at the Tempelhof website as tours offered in different languages and at different times. The tour cost €12 and was completely worthwhile. Our guide was so knowledgeable an gave the group some great insight into this mysterious building.
Tempelhof may also be the only chance you get to go to an airport where you don’t have heartfelt goodbyes, where there is no excitement for the prospect of travelling somewhere new and where the stories cling to the walls like passengers cling to a boarding pass before leaving the gate.
19 Countries, over 12000 KM, 68 Days; welcome to Contiki Training.
In three months I will be packing my bag for a trip that I can only describe as a once in a lifetime opportunity. A whirlwind of adventure that will see me wake up in one country and fall asleep in another, if I get any sleep at all.
Recently, I saved all of my pennies for a Contiki Trip, I travelled with a friend from London to Athens with a bunch of 50 crazy travellers, during a hot European summer, making memories that I won’t be forgetting any time soon.
When I returned to Australia I started my final semester at university, still unsure of what I wanted to do once I graduated. I had seen Contiki advertise a Tour Manager position for Europe and the requirements seemed simple enough; be a confident speaker, have a European passport or be able to obtain visas, to preferably have travelled before and to be bubbly and outgoing. I possess all of the above and my most treasured travel item is my EU passport.
I poured my heart into my online application and a month later I was flying to Sydney for a group interview at Contiki HQ. With 20 people in the group interview the vibe was tense, many crumbled under the pressure when giving their speeches, myself included. I picked it up where I left off and after a long and stressful group interview, I scored myself a personal interview that same afternoon.
Never have I been in an personal interview that challenged me more. Trying to get a smile out of my interviewers was near impossible and serious thought went into each and every answer I gave. I walked out not knowing what to expect, all I knew was that in two weeks I would have my answer.
Two weeks later I was hurtled out of bed with the news that I had been accepted on the training trip. I laughed, cried and jumped at the good news. I’ve never wanted anything so badly before. Since returning from my last Contiki, I have had an urge to travel, to explore and to see the world from a different perspective, now I have that chance.
March will see me leave Australia for eight months and endure a challenging training trip before being offered a position as a Contiki Tour Manager in Europe. I am currently completing a huge assignment to help me prepare for my trip.
Overwhelmed and excited are two words I would use to describe how I feel about jetting off to Europe and when I mapped out my trip I figured out that I will be visiting 19 countries, covering about 12 000 KM, all in just 68 days. Not very many people can say that they have done that. I simply cannot wait.
So sure to follow me by email to keep an eye on La Petite Globetrotter for tales from my crazy European adventure.