Cycle Tour Around West Berlin
Dag/day 7: Spandau-Mitte
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Added on 18 Jul 2023
on 20 Aug 2023
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by Ottocolor on 18 Jul 2023
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Berlin, BE, DE (35 m NHN)
Berlin, BE, DE (48 m NHN)
12 Jul 2023
Warm and sunny, but more cloudy and less hot than the previous days. Light to moderate breeze from northwest.
Slope Gradient Distribution
The last part of the description is from the morning after, after which I took a train home.
On Wednesday my plan comprised the last stage back to the center of Berlin along the northern part of the wall path. And it was the last day of the cycling holiday, because on Thursday I would be going home by train to Daneland.
The first kilometers were endlessly slow, because my interest was constantly caugt by something. In addition to reading boards, there was a good museum about the border and the Wall in a former GDR watchtower, which stood on a small hill on the lakeshore exactly where the West Berlin district of Heiligensee on a promontory in the lake opposite came very close. On all three floors, stories were told about the colossal efforts of the GDR leaders to keep their people locked up. It was not easy, and had the border existed for longer, the high-tech age with sensors and wireless contacts would have begun here. But they did not make it in the 80s. The tower was from 1987, so it was state-of-the-art in East German times. I noticed the bullet holes at knee height on the living floor. A diabolical political system that was ultimately doomed as soon as confinement ended. Then it had no raison d'être any longer.
I had only just remounted my female bike before jumping off her again. A quickie so to speak. Because I had read the sign "nature bathing place", and I really needed a dip in the lake. It wasn't a naturist bathing place, so I put on my cache sexe. A mother scolded her son for destroying his own toy. It was a bit tiresome to listen to, but the bath was refreshing, and afterwards I had a schnitzel menu in the beach stall plus a beer to celebrate the day.
Now I had better do some distance up to Frohnau and down again on the "other side" towards East Berlin. I had cycled part of the route with my sons, when we had cycled to Berlin from Denmark in 2019. Today I was strangely groggy, the beer was probably to blame, and couldn't really see the fun in the wall episodes anymore. Neither the so-called "duckbill" (Entenschnabel), which was a poaching on the East German side into West Berlin could rise much interest. In addition to its exposed position, it is low in the terrain and the ground is sandy, so it was the perfect place to dig tunnels, which was also successfull y done in several occasions. A single tunnel had been the path to freedom for 53 people before it was discovered. This could happen even if you had to have a special permit and be tested on your loyalty to the system in order to be able to live there. The GDR really did what they could, but people's desire for freedom is an indomitable quantity.
Then followed some large meadows with a decent ascent in the middle, so that Berlin's TV tower suddenly seemed to be close. It was close to my final goal, so now I had smelled a rat. Still, I made a few stops along the way. First I had coffee from a Turkish stall at a supermarket in Wilhelmsruh. After all, I wanted to be in shape at my arrival at Bornholmer Straße. It's a very central place on the Wall, because it was precisely here that it fell on the evening of November 9, 1989. After a legendary press conference on East German TV, where the party's press secretary Schabowski involuntarily had promisee that a border crossing could be granted "immediately, without hesitation", several thousand people had taken him at his word and had arrived at the border crossing here. The border guards had not been informed. They called for advice, but didn't really get any clear message, and so the boss didn't dare do anything but let people flow through. At first they showed their passports, which were stamped, but soon people were just pouring unchecked across the border, over the bridge across the railway tracks and into the promised land of West Berlin, which was their goal. The Wall had got a hole that was never patched. It was world history. I was a little moved today, because for the 33½ years since that evening I had wanted to see and be at this historic place.
Soon the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark appeared on the left, and then Bernauer Straße began, leading directly to my goal. At this stadium, the multiple GDR league champion club Dynamo Berlin, which belonged to the Ministry of State Security, the hated Stasi, had played their home matches. Past Mauerpark, where a huge flea market is held on Sundays, into which Simon's girlfriend Signe had lured us in 2019, I cycled down towards my starting point, Nordbahnhof. Not without upending a large glass of Schultheiss, one of the local beer brands, on my way. Shortly afterwards I stood in front of the Eastener Hostel in Novalisstraße. Today's goal was reached. But the day was not over yet. Far from.
First I checked into my room and parked the bike in the yard. After a precise and thorough explanation by hosteldaddy Matthias. Next I shopped in a small supermarket nearby, called Kiezmarkt. In Berlin, Kiez just means city district or neighbourhood and not, as in Hamburg, red light district. Well, that would have been interesting. Afterwards, I cooked in the hostel's kitchen from my purchased items. Now I also had provided for breakfast and a packed lunch for next day's journey.
But I wasn't tired yet, so I went for a walk in my Kiez to see what was going on. I had loose plans to stroll out to the Biergarten, Prater, where I had been the first evening. But I didn't get that far, because at the corner of Torstraße and Brunnenstraße I dropped in at a bar where the number of bottles impressed me plus the way they were lit. I discovered a gimmick with a bottle of Meister Proper, a German cleaning agent. Just my kind of humor. The evening turned into a really pleasant one when I met and had a good chat with a Danish mother and her adult son who were on holiday in Berlin. Soon the son slipped into the bar, where he tested his German skills, while I felt attracted to his mother out on the street patio. I thought about the double bed at my hostel, but I still ended up sleeping in it alone. Got completely out of practice seducing women.
The next day I checked out of the hostel and cycled a short trip to Bahnhof Friedrichstraße, from where I would take a commuter train to the main station. However, I had little time, so I locked the luggage into a box and cycled to nearby Dorotheenstrasse to drop off the bike girl. I was well satisfied with her services. I told the bike rental man that she willingly let herself be mounted every morning. To which he laughed and made a lewdness. We understand each other quite well. "Det is Balin!" As they say in their funny dialect. That's how Berlin is.
Now I had time to spare to go into a special building at the railway station in Friedrichstraße, namely the hall that during the time of the Wall, was reserved for exits to and arrivals from West Berlin. It went by the name Traenenpalast, the Palace of Tears, because of the violent farewell scenes it witnessed when East Germans had been granted leave for the West and it was uncertain when or if they would return. There was a nice little exhibit showing the harassment and public trustee's office citizens were subjected to during the very slow procedure before they wee allowed to go pass to the section of the station where the trains to West Berlin departed. There were many original effects which brought the exhibition to life.
Soon after, I locked my junk out of the box and traveled home on three different trains.