During a recent trip to Berlin I went on a few tours with Berliner Unterwelten e.V, the Society for Exploration and Documentation of Subterranean Architecture. The society offers a number of tours of Berlin’s underground. They have tours of World War II bunkers, a Flak (anti aircraft) tower, Cold War installations, and the relics of Berlin’s pneumatic dispatch system.
The Flak Tower was covered by debris in the post war clean up effort and now constitutes the Humboldthain Park. Just walking in the park, you would have no idea of what is beneath you. In the last days of the war, thousands of civilians took refuge in the Flak tower. Our guide was one of them. He was a little kid back then.
After the war the Allies tried to destroy the tower with little success. However, most of the tower’s seven floors are covered with debris from the explosions.
In comparison to the massive concrete walls of the Flak tower, the construction of the nearby civilian bunkers in the Gesundbrunnen subway station seems rather flimsy and they would not have offered much protection. This is not a museum, it’s the real thing. This tour really make history come alive and you get an idea what it was like to be trapped in a bunker during an air raid.
In the basement of the Central Telegraph Office at Oranienburger Str. the remnants of Berlin’s Rohrpost (pneumatic dispatch system) can still be seen. The history of these systems is fascinating. Berlin’s Rohrpost was divided during the Cold War and East Berlin’s system remained in operation until 1976. Apparently, there is some evidence to suggest that a link between East and West Berlin remained intact throughout the Cold War and contraband was smuggled across (or rather below) the border. I was told, that the old postal workers who kept the system running covered the dispatch station with propaganda posters whenever communist party officials ventured into the basement. I have successfully used this strategy in my youth as well to cover up my mischief :-)
Luckily, I had my camera on with me on this tour. The old machinery is a great photographic subject.
Somehow it worked out cheaper to have a stop-over in London instead of flying directly to Germany. I’m sure it has to do with the Football World Cup.
So, I found myself in London for a few days. The sun was shining the whole time, it was old Lizzy’s birthday and she came out on the balcony and waved at me, the RAF had a flyby, the Tube broke down only rarely, and the media was full of positive stories about Germany. Best of all, when I checked my email, I had a job offer from BICEP for the next South Pole winter. So I had a great time.
Check out my 18 seconds London photo summary:
Here it is: the 58 second summary of my trip to Honduras.
I didn’t have much of a plan on what to do after my winter at the South Pole. An innocent conversation in the Galley, followed by a couple of hours of surfing on the Internet, made me the proud owner of two season passes. Without any planning I was set to become a snow bum for a season.
I managed to get about 70 days on the mountain, which is not bad considering the price I paid. This was a great experience. Having a lot of time allows you to board Monday through Friday and to avoid the weekend crowds. I spent the weekends on little side trips or hooking up with friends along the way.
Below is a season of snow bumming compressed into 33 seconds:
Coming back from Munich after New Year’s, I found myself looking at the last minute offerings at my local airport. It was probably the gray sky I saw on my flight home that had me longing for a warmer climate. I picked up a few fliers and a short time later I settled for a cheap two week trip to Egypt.
January seems to be the perfect time. Not too hot and no crowds. After hearing other traveler’s stories, I think I really lucked out. We had great ship for the Nile cruise and we had a private guide for our small group of seven people. Great guy, very knowledgeable and funny. Cruising down the Nile is a very relaxing way of seeing the ruins along the way.
I didn’t bring enough memory cards for my camera and had to visit Internet Cafes along the way. This turned out to be a good things. It would usually take some time to get the pictures transferred to a DVD and often somebody had to run around to organize a blank. This was a good time to talk to the local guys hanging out there.