“I know! Let’s go hike through the snow, up a mountain, to an abandoned spy building to see some graffiti!”
I think I started turning a bit nutty while in Berlin. Who was this person and what did they do with warm weather Erica? Was I really willing to go through an impending snowstorm to head to Teufelsberg? Apparently I was.
It must have rubbed off on me here as Berliners are some of the most resilient people I’ve ever seen. Dog walks, jogs, hikes, and beer runs will take place in the heaviest snowfall. Nothing will stop these people from having a social life!
In preparation, we got some advice from people living in Berlin about how to get there. It is somewhat of an off the beaten path location and there aren’t really any specific directions on getting to Teufelsberg if you’re planning on walking it.
“Oh, once you get off at Gruneswald, you will see it. Just walk in that direction.”
So we did… except… you can’t see anything BECAUSE THERE IS A GIANT FOREST IN FRONT OF YOU. The hill isn’t that big!
After some wandering, we figured out that when you get off of the S-Bahn stop you need go under the highway and through the park. There is a map that will give you an idea of where it is. Just keep walking and once you have made it mostly through the giant forest, you can catch a glimpse of the tower to confirm that you’re going the right way or give you new bearings to follow. Soon after you will cross a paved road at the base of the hill. From there you just meander your way to the top on the gazillion intertwining walking trails. There is no wrong way and they all generally head you in the right direction. It should take you no longer than 30-45 minutes from the train station to the gate.
Once you get to the top you have two choices:
1. Yell for someone at the front gate to let you in. They charge you 7 EUR and will give you an hour to explore and/or do a tour. No one is really sure if these guys are official or if these graffiti artists are taking it upon themselves to make extra money. They even give you a stamp on your hand so the other “security” people in the abandoned buildings don’t give you hell.
2. Break in. There are many holes in the gate around the property that you can slip into. Note that they are always patching them up so you either have to a) bring bolt cutters or b) revert to number 1. The guy who eventually let us in initially threatened us with a 90 EUR fine for trespassing when he saw us meandering around the perimeter (there was no one at the front when we arrived). Luckily he turned out to be a really nice guy who let us explore unsupervised.
However, the biggest plus about making the trek on a snowy weekday is that we were the ONLY people at Teufelsberg. We had this abandoned playground to ourselves.
If you come, plan for at least an hour. There is so much to see – it is a photogasm waiting to happen. Just make sure to avoid certain buildings due to toxic gas leaks and rotting wooden boards that could give way at any time and you have your own paradise.
And while the biggest draw is the graffiti, one of the best parts awaits you at the top of the tower. After climbing 6 or 7 floors in pitch black staircases, you come to an acoustic dome (where they would do all the spying). This place will echo for 9+ seconds. It really screws with your head when you can hear yourself breathing as if you’re standing next to yourself.
It was when we got up here that we noticed how bad the snowstorm was becoming. High winds and horizontal snow got me a little concerned. Between the snowstorm in Iceland and this snowy fiasco, I turned to Shaun in horror and said, “This is how people get killed. Why do we keep doing things like this?!” We headed back down in a hurry and rushed to the front gate.
This is when we realized that maybe it wasn’t a good thing that we were the only ones here. The exit gate was locked. There was no one in sight. After 10 minutes of shouting “HELLOOOOOO!” Shaun took it upon himself to look for a sign of life as the snowflakes accumulated on our jackets. After dragging away an artist in full painting gear (he looked straight out of Contagion), we left, full of smiles as we lifted our faces to the sky to catch snowflakes on our tongues, happily kicking up snow on our way back.
I didn’t regret a thing.
Have you ever been determined to have an adventure – no matter the outcome?
***And a HUGE thanks to Kirsten Alana of Aviators and a Camera for reminding me about this awesome place and getting me off my butt to take pics.***