My program doesn’t start till early September, so in the mean-time I have been exploring Berlin. It quickly becomes apparent, when one comes to Berlin, that there is a lot of history here. Buildings still black from bombings, pock-marked walls once hit with shrapnel, and even some fully destroyed buildings can still be seen here. This is a big sign of the character of Berlin and Germany as a whole. They want to keep reminders of the past that they have endured so as to not make the same mistakes as generations passed. This is one of the cultural differences between Germany and the U.S.
A great way experience this appreciation for the past, I’ve found, is to explore one of Berlin’s many abandoned buildings, structures, and complexes. It is a way of going off the beaten path. You won’t find any tourists there, but you will more than likely meet young Germans, and find settings that are very distinct from anything I have seen in the U.S. before.
My British friend William and I decided to walk to our first destination, which was an abandoned bath-house and water park. The path seemed unassuming enough. One minute we were walking down a serene wooded path along the river. The next minute a green steel-grate fence emerged from between some trees. It had a human-sized square hole cut into it. This was our entrance.
Upon crossing the threshold between the forest path and the abandoned complex, I noticed that I could hear the wind as passed through the broken windows and cracked walls. In front of me was a wall. On the left side was an octagonal room with windows on every wall and most of the ceiling. to the right was a large square structure that was covered in different colored Graffiti murals. We walked to the right. After going through an old doorway, we could see the place open up before us. It had been burnt at one point, so the building only had three walls. The wall that opened up to the outside showed a huge lot with empty swimming pools, a half-collapsed main building, and many other small structures.
We explored for hours. I could tell the significance of this place. It used to be where families would meet and relax and celebrate. There was something so peculiar about it. I could imagine the people that used to frequent this place, And with the echos of laughter from my fellow explorers around the complex it seemed as if they were still there.
From this experience, I have learned about appreciating your past and finding beauty in forgotten things.