Shing, Elsa, Alex and myself have become a bit of a travelling gang over the years, from Jordan to Norway, from here and there…and what a lovely lot they are, new horizons never looked more beautiful with them by my side. This summer, with itchy feet but slightly strapped for funds we opted to jump across to Germany, renewing our friendship with Berlin whilst also paying a visit to their neighbours in Poland.
We took Berlin at a summery pace…relaxed and light, hoping to see something this time different from before. We took the train to the beautiful Grunewald forest, tall trees and crepuscular sunshine, our path always winding towards Teufelsberg (‘Devil’s Mountain’). In the heart of all of this green is this mountain made by man, the rubble and wreckage, the destruction of the War, piled high for trees and plants and life to take their root. Shing writes on her blog ‘what makes Teufelsberg unique, is that also buried underneath, is the remains of the never completed Nazi military-technical college (Wehrtechnische Fakultät) designed by Albert Speer (Hitler’s chief architect and also known as ‘the Nazi who said sorry’ after admitting responsibility at the Nuremberg Trials). The Allies tried in vain to demolish the school using explosives, but it was so sturdy that covering it with debris turned out to be the easier option.’
So up we went. The path wound around the mountain, we wound around the mountain, we stopped for sandwiches, the views were beautiful that day. Up and up, and peering now above the trees were the spheres of the abandoned Teufelsberg Listening Station, my sister and Alex had found out about this place after watching an interview with Pantha Du Prince who spoke about the intense acoustics inside the main tower. And we arrived, at the gateway of this fortress, ironed and barbed. This place was abandoned, but squatters now ruled this kingdom..and they were its gate-keepers. So a toll was paid and entrance we granted. Wandering through these buildings with their murals of rich graffiti, through their globular listening stations, high above Berlin, up in the blue, in this unusual place, it felt very special. We climbed the tallest tower, stairs spiralling towards a huge sphere where a man sat with his guitar, and when he played, the music filled us all.
A few days later we jumped on another train across to Poland, where we visited Poznań. We met some lovely people, ate some very nice food and passed the days in galleries and bustling through the cobbled pavements of the streets of colourful buildings.
With a few David Lynch fans amongst us we determined on a pilgrimage of sorts to Łódź, staying at the hotel where he shot his 2006 film ‘Inland Empire’. Łódź is a city that seems to live in the memory of industry and other glowing worlds of palaces and grand buildings, where the residue of war has taken root in the sympathetic crumble of facades. If you visit, wander over to the Manufaktura, the reincarnation of a 19th century weaving plant. A place which houses, amongst many things, the wonderful gallery Ms² - Muzeum Sztuki, where beautiful objects find their home.
Soon after that, it was time to go home.