Five years ago, Tempelhofer Field became, well, a field. It had been an airport until 2008, when it was closed, and in those two years it was used for a few events, until it was opened as a park. It was an airport for a long time, but from what I know, it was been a little deserted for a few years before it was closed.
When you search “What to see in Berlin” lists, it’s on most of them, and there’s a U-Bahn (subway) stop called Tempelhof, and that’s when you know a place is important.
On Sunday, I decided to take advantage of the sort of cloudy weather, and see what all the hype was about. It was windy and cool, but later the sun came out, which pleased me, as well as the other hundreds of people who came to the park that day.
It turns out that airports are somewhat large, a fact that wasn’t necessarily surprising in principle, but more in practice. (I know now that a circle around the park is 6.2 kilometers – or 3.85 miles, for my American friends).
The fact that this is my first picture says something, as I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. It doesn’t look that long.
The airport was used back in the day when the Soviets decided that Berlin didn't need any contact with the outside world, but surprise, the others came in to help. Many, many planes flew over the airport every day, dropping food, candy for the kids, and other supplies to the people living here.
When you’re by yourself, sometimes you have to put your camera on top of your backpack on the ground, set a 10 second timer and run. And then do it a few more times because you keep cutting your head out of the picture.
The field in the middle was roped off, as a place for bird mating. The good news was that the birds didn’t bother the people and stayed in the space allocated to them.
The wind served some people well. I think I saw more kites that day than I have in the past four years of my life. Also, people skateboards with sails attached, and surprisingly, not falling off or running into people. Some people really do have talent.
At the other end of the park, there’s a community garden. I wasn’t sure of the rules within community gardens – am I allowed to walk through everyone’s spaces? Am I allowed to sit in an area where no one is? Are you only allowed to sit in your own area? – but walked through regardless.
The plants, colors, and mostly haphazard arrangement of everything was beautiful and fascinating and I don’t know how these people do it. Lots of people were sitting, reading, gardening, talking, or just enjoying the weather. (Whether they were sitting in their own garden area or just a free random one, I can’t say.)
These benches matched several little huts around the park. My host mom told me the Nazis built the huts, but I can’t find that anywhere online. She knew a lot about politics and Germany and history, so I don’t doubt her. The red and white was sort of whimsical but also sort of foreboding if you think about it.
It takes the “field” part of its name seriously.
I wanted a picture of me in a field, but unfortunately, again, I was alone. I did the same camera on backpack move, and then took about eight different photos. There was always a plant right in the way of my face, or the camera wasn’t focused on anything (it’s hard to set the focus on something that’s not there). In the first few pictures I tried to squat and look casual, but something about squatting and looking casual doesn’t really work out, surprisingly. Eventually, I just sat down in the middle of the field, which wasn’t necessarily the most pleasant experience, but now I feel pretty connected with nature for the summer.
This plane was near the actual airport building, which apparently used to be one of the largest buildings in the world. I thought about joining the Segway tour that was learning about the plane at the same time I got to it, but I still had at least a mile of walking to do and had no time to waste.