Sunday, December 2, 2012

While Travis was Exploring Museum Island...

A bit apprehensive, I gave Travis a kiss goodbye and headed for the nearest S-bahn metro station. After ninety-six days together it felt oddly lonely to be on my own for the day. An hour later, on the outskirts of town, the train pulled up to the station - a cement pad surrounded by forest - and I nervously looked around for the tour group.

As a result of two world wars and years of division, Berlin is home to many partially destroyed or abandoned buildings, many of which hide beautiful architectural details behind their rundown exteriors. However, if you've got a few Euros, or know the right people, obtaining access to these buildings can be extremely rewarding.

One company offering such access to curious visitors is Go2Know Photo Tours. Started a few years ago by three young, adventurous, German lads, they currently offer a dozen photo tours to deserted sites including an East German youth college, Chemical Plant, and Tempelhof Airport. In addition to a focus on photography and gaining access to these sites, Go2Know also works with the owners to maintain and preserve each site. 

Although all of the tours looked amazing, my decision was limited by our short time in Berlin, and in the end I opted to visit the Men's Clinic. Built in 1902 to house tuberculosis patients, and later serving as a hospital during World War One and Two, the men's clinic was also the largest Soviet hospital outside of Russia during the cold war before finally being deserted in the early nineties. 

A forgotten vodka bottle overlooking the central courtyard

Vines beginning to take back the buildings

What was once a gymnasium

Paint peeling staircase

It didn't take long to realize I was the only native English participant on the tour, as everyone else laughed along to the German guides' quick site introduction. However the guides took some time to give me a quick run down in English, and then everyone was off, free to explore the site at their own pace.

Three buildings in total make up the site, each featuring the remains of the lovely architecture characteristic of the time-period, and it's still easy to see beauty in the dusty, water stained, hallways. The buildings also offer wonderful photo opportunities, and I found myself caught off guard by the beauty and feelings of loneliness around each corner. After 500 photos and 5 exhausting hours of exploring and shooting, it was time to leave for home and get some well-deserved rest. 

Colour is still evident in this staircase

Lovely shadows

One of many empty hallways

This door somehow made its was to the attic
The tours are all reasonably priced at around forty euros, depending on the site, and although the company website are currently available only in German, the guides did share their plans to branch out and offer more options moving forward (and are very helpful via email). However, being able to get onto the site alone was enough reason for me to sign up, and if I ever get the chance to visit Berlin again I'll be sure to fit in another Go2Know tour )or two!).

Tall Roman-esque pillars

An eerie shower room

Large, open theater space

A breaker box, although there is no longer electricity serving the buildings

*Note, the photos are all right off my camera and haven't been touched up yet. I'll let you know once I get a chance to post a final album to Flickr.

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Hey there!

Calli and Travis returned from a four month trip through Europe more excited than ever to hit the open road. Who knows where they'll end up next...

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