Have pen, will travel. Sending letters.
A letter from Germany. In which are recorded the wanderings through a forgotten and overgrown fun fair.
Germany, August 2009
it’s been some time, isn’t it. So, I thought it would be a nice touch to finally write again. Well, I’m not really travelling this time. Actually, I’m not even far from from home. But see: adventure is indeed there you seek it!
Do you remember Berlin’s, actually the GDR’s only constant running amusement park? “Spreepark” – in that green park area in the eastern center of town near the river Spree? You probably may know it as “Kulturpark Plänterwald” as well. Opened in 1969, the entertainment park – covering an area of 29.5 hectares with quite a number of fun rides (imagine that size) – became an attraction for generations of family outings over the years. The Ferris wheel stood high over the trees as a landmark and together with the ghost train it gained more fame due to a TV series – do you remember it? It re-ran in the Christmas season quite often back then. Although it must be decades ago now, I still remember our visit to the glittering, bright, and dazzling fun fair when I was a kid. Of course, the Ferris wheel was too high, the ghost train too creepy to not being fixed in a child’s memory.
Following the reunification, the former nationally owned “Kulturpark” was liquidated and passed into the private hands of the “Spreepark Berlin” company in 1991, which changed and modernized the concept and added even more attractions. Unfortunately, due to economic and management challenges the company began to struggle. In 2001 the “Spreepark” announced bankruptcy; in 2002 the park closed its gates. And while visitors failed to appear, nature slowly claimed back the territory, reconquering it bit by bit over the course of years and the past decennium …
Since then fences were rusting, fun rides decaying, plants growing. The park was buried in oblivion, leaving grown up children of yore with memories only and kids of today with the curiosity what that huge wheel in the woods may stand for. Why am I telling you of all this?, you probably already started to ask yourself. Well, approaching the park these days, ten years after its abandonment, resembles much of an expedition into a lost world. And come on, be honest: there’s not much creepier than an abandoned amusement park, is there?
Entering this forgotten realms you find yourself in a world without people. A world displaying only the rotten legacy of some long-lost era. Crumbling monuments … ancient sites of tomorrow. An almost post-apocalyptic atmosphere suddenly surrounds you. Still, the giant Ferris wheel is a landmark – a necessary one, guiding any visitor (I’m almost tempted to write ‘intruder’ here, mind you) through the coppice, which has overgrown anything in sight in the meantime. One is torn between the subliminal feeling to somehow be out-of-place here and the irresistible urge to go on, delve deeper into this place, explore it, experience it. I’m somehow sure you can relate. Of course, curiosity wins. It always does, doesn’t it – fortunately!, I mean – what else would I have written about in this letter otherwise? Since I also took my camera with me, I am quite happy and a little bit proud to also include some more pictures of this … ‘Lost World’ with my letter today. So, say – doesn’t look this absolutely fascinating?
Also a little bit creepy, don’t you think. It’s in particular that Ferris wheel, eerily squealing in the wind which could give you quite a shiver, seriously. Well, I think this should be enough horror stories for now, I don’t want to be responsible for any nightmares of yours. So, that’s it for today.