So Jasper and I had a date night this evening. We left the babies in the hands of our very cool, much loved babysitter from Olympia, Washington and then headed out on our own for three whole hours. Since the weather was beautiful and I just got my bicycle fixed, we decided to take a long bike ride to Treptower Park, passing through Kreuzkölln and Görlitzer Park. This, my friends, was a mistake. Berlin has had the first few days of great weather after a terrible winter and a miserable spring which means that everyone and his third cousin was biking or walking through Kreuzkölln and Görlitzer Park and Treptower Park. And I have to say, I really hate the hipster (and overall) style in Berlin. Most of the people look like they are wearing an outfit they threw together last minute and then partied in through the night and morning at Berghain then fell asleep on a park bench and woke up to have a "Grill Party" with their friends. In other words, calculated casual sloppiness at its very worst. And it probably takes most of them hours to get ready in the morning....Still, Jasper and I tried to make the most of our bad decision and took lots of photographs.
We stopped for a photo op after cycling through the former death strip between Kreuzberg and Treptow where lots and lots of people were having their Grill Parties. Germans are crazy for "grillen" (barbecuing) and Turks love it even more. I've never really understood their passion since most of the places you can barbecue are overcrowded and loud and smoky as hell...But we got to the Spree and pulled out our cameras and I took this photograph which put me in an even worse mood.
Why? Because every tourist and their mother takes this shot when they come to Berlin. The Spree River with Fernsehturm and Oberbaumbrücke in the distance. I swear, if you do a google image search of Berlin right now you will find ten thousand different variations. I hate generic photographs. And now I had taken one. I was hungry and cranky. Jasper was complaining that I was riding too slow (I don't like to break a sweat, thank you very much, and my butt was hurting because the guy at the bike shop had set the seat too low.) But then we had fantastic fried chicken at Zur kleinen Markthalle and headed afterwards to Flughafen Tempelhof. Date night was saved afterall.
Flughafen Tempelhof was an inner city airport that is famous because it is where the Americans had the Luftbrücke after the war, delivering food and supplies to the city when the Soviets had set up their blockade, saving thousands of lives and allowing West Berlin to stay ultimately west. The airport was still in operation (though they had very few flights leaving and arriving and only a handful of destinations) until a couple of years ago. Since then there have been lots of fights and debates on what to do with the historic building and runway. Should it become a luxury spa? Should it stay in operation? Should it be sold to foreign interests? The answer, for now, is give it to the people. The field and airstrip behind the airport is now a space open to the public which is even larger than Central Park.
As you can see, a lot of people were having Grill Parties when we were there, but somehow they were not as irritating as the ones we ran across at the death strip (though just as smoky.) There is something to be said about seeing a couple of hundred people barbecuing on the former runway of an airport you can still see in the background. Besides, the area is huge and grillen (and dogs) are restricted to the front area only, leaving miles of open fields and pavement for everyone else to hang out on or nap in or roller blade across or kiss and feed each other with marshmallows. Whatever.
In a lot of ways it reminded me of the wide open prairie that I saw when I visited my grandma in Nebraska last year. Flat fields as far as the eye can see, only instead of corn and sunflowers, these ones were surrounded by buildings with the white noise of traffic in the distance. Still, an amazing experience for us city dwellers who can easily become disconnected with the vastness of nature.
No one is sure about the future of Tempelhof, but I truly do hope that it stays open to the public because it is unique and an amazing feeling to bike along where 747s once took off into the air, even for a slow bird like me. ;)
p.s. the girls in these photographs were Spanish, i.e. this is not the Berlin style I was complaining about. They look cute. :)