I love to get out in the fresh air no matter where in the world I am so I was delighted to find a few slightly unusual places to take the air on a recent city break to Berlin.
- Hike to a disused, graffiti covered radar station
Deep in the western suburbs of Berlin, not too far from the Olympiastadion (see 2) lies a large forested park full of running, hiking and mountain biking trails. It even has an outdoor climbing wall. However, for us it’s main attraction was the Teufelsberg; undeterred by the website being mostly in German we wandered through the park from the Olympiastadion S-Bahn stop and after a few wrong turns (just keep heading uphill) we arrived at what can only be described as an edgy, quirky, industrial, open-air art gallery. The site was previously a radar station but has fallen into a state of ‘permitted decay’. Large artworks have appeared on walls, doors, staircases and water tanks. There is an entrance fee and permanent staff to ensure the security of the site. To walk around the site cost around 5 euros. Tours are intermittently available in German and English but must be booked ahead.
The walk up through the park was lovely and it was certainly an unsual place to see some great street art pieces. There was even a couple having their wedding photos taken; or they may have been part of an art installation – it was the kind of place where anything seemed possible!
2. Catch a football game at the Olympiastadion
Although many of the seats in the 75,000 seater Olympiastadion are under cover I think it can still be classified as an outdoor activity. Tickets for the home football team Hertha BSC are available online and are reasonably priced as far as football tickets go. Even if football isn’t your thing the stadium itself is an architectural marvel. Built for the 1936 summer Olympics it is a relic of another time. The stadiums’ early days bore witness to key dark moments in Germany’s history but I think it’s continued use today typifies the attitude frequently encountered in Berlin; that Berliners are pragmatically looking to the future while acknowledging the events of the past.
On match day the atmosphere was fantastic, families and friends coming together to see their team; win or lose. There was a great variety of German footballing snacks to enjoy alongside alcohol free beer; in a recent, controversial decision alcohol was banned from the grounds. This certainly didn’t detract from the experience although the ability to put on a ‘beer jacket’ on a cold spring day was a bit missed!
3. Cycle around a disused airfield
In a continuing tour of repurposed Nazi funded building projects we headed to the south of the city to Templehof airport. Once the oldest functioning pre WW2 airport in Europe it has now been re-invented as a recreation space for the city. While the airport buildings are only accessible on a tour the airfield is a playground for the city. Kite flyers, roller-bladers, kite-boarders, runners, cyclists, everyone was enjoying the scale of the space provided for getting a lung full of fresh air. Certainly not your typical city park a bike was a good way to explore the runways and taxi lanes of the airfield. The scale of the whole setup was unlike anything I have seen before. I would definitely recommend hiring a bike to explore as if you walked around it I think you’d be there for quite a while!
Hope you enjoyed these slightly off the wall outdoor activities. I’d love to hear of similar quirky outings!