Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hallowe'en's brack! Recipe for divilment

Hallowe'en is my favorite day of the year. I love it, always have. There's none of the bullshit that accompanies other occasions, no four-month marketing campaigns making you sick of it before it's even begun, no need to buy presents, no need to be nice, no obligations whatsoever. In short, it's fun! It hasn't been commandeered by bible-bashers either. Coincidence? Probably not.
I reminisced about Hallowe'ens from my reckless youth this time last year, when I was so discouraged by Germans' utter cluelessness regarding Oíche Shamhna that I didn't even bake a brack, as I'd done the year before when I wasn't yet aware of their blasphemous ways.
Their ignorance surprises me. Hallowe'en is the type of occasion I imagine Germans would love. I guess they have their equivalent on Walpurgis Nacht, but it isn't quite the same. I'm not having a go at Walpurgis Nacht, far from it – it's a fine festival – but Hallowe'en has always been something special and any other occasion is going to suffer in comparison.
At least the poor oul' Germans try. I discovered "spookily good" Hallowe'en cheese in Lidl. Cheesus H. Christ, I thought. I didn't buy the cheese but I'm sure it was frightful.
They did have Hallowe'en stuff in Galeria Kaufhof but the prices would leave you pale as a ghost.
I actually wanted to organize a proper Hallowe'en party, with monster hits and a roaring bonfire, but have to work tonight. Bayern Munich are ruining my life.
But damn it, I can't let them ruin Hallowe'en, so I purchased TWO pumpkins, both of them reduced as a happy consequence of Germans' Hallowe'en apathy.
The real pumpkin from Kaisers was reduced from €5 to €2.50 and the tacky pottery tea light holder from Netto was reduced from €1.99 to 50 cents. Score! I also lashed out €6 on a skeleton. A bit pricey, but fuck it, Hallowe'en only comes around once a year.
I baked a Hallowe'en brack, the first thing I've baked since the Hallowe'en brack I baked two years ago. In fact, the only thing I think I've ever baked has been Hallowe'en brack.
I followed my great-aunt Joney's recipe as best as I could. Joney was a fine woman and she made a great barmbrack. Ingredient availability in Waterford is somewhat different to that in Berlin, so I had improvise with local ingredients. This year's brack is one of the best yet though so I hereby present for you, dear readers, my recipe for Berlinerized barmbrack...

Joney's Berlinerized Hallowe'en Brack.
Ingredients: (Rough quantities, complete with German translations so you know what to go shopping for)
100g sultanas (Sultaninen)
100g currants (Korinthen)
I would have thrown some raisins in too, but couldn't find them anywhere for love nor money.
Grated orange peel from one orange. (Just don't grate too close to your laptop as I did.)
100g ground almonds (Mandelkerne gemahlen)
500g flour (Weizenmehl)
Two eggs (Eier, but sure you knew that already.)
250g sugar (Zucker)
15g Lebkuchen Gewürze (This is to replace “mixed spices” of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamon, I think it was. The German Gewürze give the brack its distinctive Berlin taste.)
Pack of baking powder. (I forgot the German for this, and I threw out the packet, and brought out the rubbish since. I ain't going outside to root in the bins.)
Two cups of cold tea. (This has to be proper black tea, none of your English muck from Tesco. If you can't get Barry's Tea, then the Ostfriesische stuff from Bünting is your next best bet.)
Action:
You'll need to start the night before as the sultanas and currants need to be soaked overnight in the tea, which has to be cold for some reason. Anyway, just throw all the fruit into a bowl with the tea, mix it all up, and leave it soak for the night.
The next day, take the rest of the ingredients, fuck them into the bowl and mix them all up. You could probably sift in the flour gradually as you're mixing so you don't break your arm trying to stir it all in together.
Get an oul' tin somewhere, grease the sides and bottom with butter (so the arse of the brack doesn't stick to it when you're taking it out) and fling in the mixture, which should be sticky and wet, but not liquid wet. If you're pouring the brack mixture into the tin then you've done something wrong.
Preheat the oven to 180C. I looked this up and found 180C is between gas mark 4 and 5. We've a gas oven. It never stops telling jokes.
Throw the brack into the oven once it's hot, let it cook for an hour and it should be done. Test it with a knife or something to be sure.
Some people like a bit of butter on their brack. It goes without saying that it's best served with piping hot tea (the proper stuff). Enjoy!

I'll update this post with pictures later, when it's dark and ghouls are roaming the Earth.

UPDATE: The post has been updated. The ghouls are still roaming. Actually, THERE'S ONE RIGHT BEHIND YOU RIGHT NOW! RUUUUNNNN!!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Changes

There's gonna be a few changes 'round here. Time for a shake up, followed by a shake down, with perhaps a little shaking to the side for good measure. It's long overdue, but I seem to have caught Berlin's propensity for procrastination.
In keeping with the times, the changes will be superficial in nature, altering little of substance but creating the illusion of great change, progress and achievement. If the times are anything to go by, these changes will have little or no impact on readers' perceptions, with an initial period of euphoria and optimism quickly followed by indifference and pessimism as reality sets in.
I'm ditching a language in perhaps the only alteration of substance. Rather than the “Irish English” I've been beguiling you with up to now, I shall be using American English from now on. I use it for work, and since English isn't Ireland's native tongue anyway, I have no issues in ditching one version for another. I have enough languages floating around in my head as it is and most of the native English-speakers reading this here thing seem to be North Americans. So there you go. Ditched like a used nappy. Used nappies, as diapers are called in Ireland, can never be ditched too soon.
The next change of note is another of style. Again, it's for consistency for my frazzled brain. I shall be using the AP Stylebook, referring to it in moments of doubt, and heeding or ignoring it accordingly. I do reserve the right to ignore it, this is my blog after all and I can do whatever the hell I want, but you will, for example, never again see a quotation mark inside a full stop, even when only part of the sentence is a quote. I said you won't again be seeing “a quotation mark inside a full stop.” Looks weird I know, but full stops outside quotation marks look even weirder.
I have great plans, wondrous plans, and I hope all my changes will allow me more time to realize them. (Notice I wrote realize and not realise? It's started!)
Photos appearing here will be smaller, in Blogger's default small size, whatever that is. I reckon it's too small, but it saves me fucking around with numbers and calculations to keep the sizes you're used to. And you can still click on images to look at them in their full glory, which is the only way to look at things anyway.
The blog itself will look very different, just tiles of photos, and you'll need to click on each photo to look at each post. I hope it works out, or it'll be somewhat self-defeating. There's no point in writing a load of shit no one's going to read. Or is there? I'm quite selfish actually, I think I just write for the hell of it.
I'll be deleting the Facebollox account because there's definitely no point in that. I only check it every blue moon to find loads of strangers want to be my friend, while real friends are now enemies because they think I'm ignoring all the messages they were sending me. I always leave it in a panic. So I just need to let the “friends” know before extinguishing that.
I'll continue my use of Twitter, which wisely limits the amount of bullshit people can spout to 140 characters. And you don't need to pretend to be anyone's friend, you just follow them whether they like it or not like a stalker.
I also need to update my profile. Quite a lot has happened in the three years or however long it was since I wrote the one there now.
Tags/topics. I'm not sure if anyone uses the damn tags, or if there's any point in them, but I'll be tidying them up a bit so posts on certain themes can be easily found together.
I might reintroduce inconspicuous ads in an effort to the keep the wolf from the door. I never understood that expression. Surely if there's food on the table it would only encourage hungry wolves to come knocking at the door? Well, anyway, I might try the ads, wolves or no wolves.
The great and wondrous plans will be become clear in due course, if they come to fruition, but I can reveal that they focus mainly on other sites: the daughter site Abandoned Berlin, which threatens to consume its mother, and another site I'll be launching soon. Yes, another one! Mad shit. I hope it will involve a lot less time and work than the existing two. We'll see.
I'm tempted to start dabbling in sound and video – sure while I'm at it I may as well go whole hog and fly a rocket to the moon.
Plans are great and making them happen is even greater. I hope you stick around and enjoy the ride. I'll just remind people once again that I'm now using American English. Lest anyone thinks I mean a ride in Irish English...
Otherwise, all the changes will take place at a predetermined time yet to be determined.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Síobhra

My little niece was born two weeks ago, same birthday as my dad's, though only one of them was born two weeks ago. No prizes for guessing which one.
She's had a tough start to life, the poor crater, not that it's Kaffee und Kuchen for anyone starting off, but it's hard enough to deal with a whole new world of madness without having an Irish hospital to contend with too.
But I'm happy to report that she's making steady progress, as is her mother, while her dad... well, dads never fully recover do they?
Welcome to the world Síobhra! Very considerate of you to arrive the same day as your uncle and big cousin. Sorry we couldn't spend more time with you but you're probably better off with a bit of peace and quiet. Sure you've your whole life ahead of you, we'll catch up over a pint or two soon enough. I'm sure things must seem pretty scary for you now – especially if you've been reading the papers – but don't you be worrying about any of that. Nothing's ever really as scary as it seems.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Snotshot of madity 8: Ireland and the cows

Cows were the theme for the latest visit home. We first encountered them at my aunt and uncle’s in Kilkenny, and then at the homestead in Wexford. The young lad was enthralled, a look of delight on his face when he heard the first moos, and he laughed with sheer joy when he came face to face with their creators.
They were as curious as he was once they got over their initial caution. They slowly came up to the gate where we waited to greet them, then backed off if the little fella made a sudden movement. They were 20 times as big as he is and we were outnumbered 20 to one but still, they weren’t taking any chances. Cow-ards. Then they’d venture forward again, curiosity driving them forward.
He was so happy, and quickly went about gathering grass and stuff to offer his new subjects. They were too amazed to react, just kept staring and standing, staring and standing, heads bent forward just looking at this strange little man waving food and sticks in front of them.
We bid adieu to our new friends and continued down the lane to the river. No houses, no cars, no humans - and sun! It was great. Sheep were eating blissfully in the fields, birds fluttered around, a couple of dogs said hello, there were puddles to jump into, sticks to bash off the ground and a stream to throw rocks into. When we moved onto the river he threw rocks into that, before he got tired of going back and forth for more rocks and simply threw grass in instead. Smart kid.
The muck was a bonus. All that lovely muck! He traipsed through it, stamped in it, jumped in it despite my kind requests not to, before we went home covered in muck and shit - literally. Fuck it, it’s natural.
He’d the same look of joy when he first saw the swans at Bray Harbour, without a hint of fear. I actually had to pull him back to safety as hundreds of them came up pecking for food. One hungry fecker in particular was really having a go.
But the cows made the biggest impression. His moos are quite impressive and he also learned to say muck. He learned another word that rhymes with muck just before we left for Ireland - bad timing to say the least - but thankfully he didn’t seem to cause any offence. I’m still trying to get him to say feck instead. Seems to be going to plan...
His Irish is coming along very well. He now says “oíche mhaith” like a professional, though his timing can be off sometimes. He likes saying it so much he says it in the morning too. But he always says it now when I wish him good night.
He asked for Jenny from time to time, wondering why she wasn’t there to share in the fun.
“She's doin’ her thesis,” I’d tell him. “She’s in Berlin. But you’ll see her in a few days.”
Then a tractor would go past and he’d be distracted again. He loves tractors!
We got the train up from Waterford to Dublin, with him mooing at the cows in the fields as we passed. I got myself a coffee and we shared a chicken and stuffing sandwich as he knocked back 12 little containers of UHT milk, one after the other like shots of whiskey. He had his milk, I had my chicken and stuffing sandwich, we were happy.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Köln revisited

Köln just feels wrong. I don’t know why exactly but it just does. Could be history has stained it to damnation, could be the infuriatingly confusing array of roads around the train station, could be the locals’ bad breath, could be anything.
I was about to write it off completely, add it to my ever-growing list of cities to be avoided at all costs. I’d taken a wrong turn coming out of the train station, found myself in a neverending tunnel hugging the wall as cars roared past. I kept going. I didn’t know at the time it was neverending. I just wanted to get through. I found an emergency exit with stairs leading up to safety, but the hatch on top was locked. What’s the point in an exit that’s locked?! So I’d to keep going, bracing myself every time another car zoomed by, cursing the trucks that pressed me against the wall with their tailwinds. I came out eventually, of course, or I wouldn’t be writing this.
It took fucking ages to find the hotel, and I was already late because the train was held up outside Wuppertal for an hour. Wuppertal is a great name. I have to visit it someday. From what I saw from the train, it’s an industrial orgy of a city, no doubt with loads of abandoned factories just waiting to be explored.
But back to Cologne. I didn’t hang around to explore that any more than the accidental exploration I took in on the way back to the train station from the hotel.
There’s a Nazi vibe about the place, as if they were still in charge. The concentration camp gathering centre across the river at Deutz doesn’t help, nor do the football hooligans, nor all the Polizei always swarming about the Bahnhof. They had one of the passages sealed off when I was leaving, a line of them standing in front of tape stretched across to prevent passengers accessing trains. Some poor fucker must have been murdered.
At least Cologne doesn’t bury its Nazi past like other cities do. (I’m looking at you Munich.) It can’t. (I found myself in an excellent museum on my last visit to Köln, full of Nazi stuff and stories. I wanted to write about it but never found the time.)
All the seats on the train out were facing backwards, just to exacerbate the feeling of unease as I was leaving. It was raining too, though that should have made me feel at home as an Irishman. But it didn’t.
Radiohead, the reason for my brief visit, were fantastic once again, but I won’t bore the arses off you by writing more about them. They bookended my trip home and I still need to write about that….
I wasn’t lying when I mentioned the Cologners’ bad breath. It’s the tooth, I gagged on more than one occasion. Et Kütt wie et Kütt, they say. Laissez-faire can go too far sometimes.
There was a bad vibe from Cologne this time, but I’m not writing it off. Far from it. It ain’t Bonn, Leverkusen or Minden. It warrants a fourth chance. The third didn't reich.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Verdammte Bauarbeiter

The earliest known reference I have to the fuckbag builders is from May 23rd, when they took up the whole street and started on the building opposite. Well, they’re still fucking there.
For over four months now, they’ve been starting every morning at 7.30 with the heavy machinery. This, after they’ve already woken the whole neighbourhood by yelling greetings at each from the street to the rooftops, with return greetings going the other way.
Every morning I wake up cursing the fuckers.
Yelling is followed by drilling, is followed by chainsawing, is followed by jackhammering, is followed by sledgehammering, is followed by the rattling of building debris down a chute, is followed by the banging of concrete blocks into a metal skip, is followed by the beep-beep-beep of reversing trucks making deliveries, is followed by the clanging of deliveries being lowered from cranes – all accompanied by yelling so they can hear themselves above the din and by the screeching of an elevator they seem to ride up and down while banging on the scaffolding just for the hell of it. This goes on all day.
As I said, every morning I wake up cursing the fuckers. I never curse them enough.
They’re supposed to be converting attic spaces into more apartments for rent-paying subservients but I have no idea why it’s taking them so long, nor why they need to make such a racket.
In the meantime no one is allowed park on the street. On either side. I suppose all the neighbours must have sold their cars.
There’s no end in sight. I’ve been meaning to go over there and simply ask, “Wie lange dauert es noch denn?!” But every time I contemplate confrontation I know I’ll only hear answers I won’t like. These fuckers have the city in their pockets after all. They can do whatever the hell they want.
Tomorrow we’re going to Ireland. I can’t wait. In Ireland, there’s no building work at all.

These pictures were taken last month. The scene’s much the same now, albeit with fewer leaves on the trees.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Radiohead revisited

Radiohead were fantastic, so good that I’ll be getting the train down to Cologne on the day I get back from Ireland to see them again that night. Just two weeks of Radiohead-free nights to get through between gigs!
“If you think this is over, then you’re wrong,” Thom Yorke sang. You’re right there Thom.
I got to Wuhlheide as fast as my legs would pedal me from the S-Bahnhof, anxious that my professional commitments would cut short my unprofessional ones. I need not have worried. The band struck up as soon as I arrived at the gate. I ran up to the edge of the arena, and there they all were, below in the amphitheatre laid out before me like a bowl of strawberries just waiting to be devoured.
I devoured a beer too, of course, and got another one.
They were incredible – Radiohead that is – the beers were only alright. I wanted to immerse myself in the gig, and then thought to myself if I’m thinking I want to immerse myself in this, then I amn’t immersed in it. Then I thought if I was thinking all that, that I was living here too long.
But the music did take over. Radiohead’s new shit is so good, you forget their old shit is fantastic. I had goosebumps for Spinning Plates, and pretty much every song after.
Thom interrupted the proceedings with the following announcement: “These security guys telling you ‘you can’t film’ and to put the cameras away, it’s bullshit, you can film. As far as I’m concerned you can take your cameras out and film all you want.”
Cue wild cheering from the fans, sheepish looks from the security.
The atmosphere was magic, with trees rimming the perimeter and the full moon shining down over it all.
“I’m not here, this isn’t happening.”
But it was, despite the freezing cold.
“Stupid idea to do a gig outdoors,” Thom complained.
There was an encore. And another, with – I think – a third new song. (Those beers were affecting my ability to count.)
It still amazes me how so many Germans are unfamiliar with the concept of encores. As soon as Thom said that was it, they began streaming out. Idiots. They were probably queuing for hours to buy tickets too.
Anyway, it was better without them. The diehards were left, and they began clapping along to: “Don’t haunt me, don’t hurt me.”
Then the Tibet flag was rolled out. Everything in its right place.



I didn’t bring my camera – of course – and won’t insult you eyes with photos taken by my shitty phone. I’ve pictures from Radiohead’s gig at Wuhlheide in 2008, but I won’t insult your eyes with them either. I’ll have my camera in Cologne on October 15 and will be snapping safe in the knowledge it’s what Thom wanted. The pictures here are from The Universal Sigh.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Haunted by history, the ghosts of Beelitz-Heilstätten

Everybody and their dog knows about Beelitz-Heilstätten, which is why I haven’t written about it before. Not everyone has a dog though. Some have other pets, less inquisitive or knowledgeable than dogs. So this is for the goldfish.
Beelitz is where Hitler and Honecker were treated for injuries/ailments sustained in World War I and East Germany’s last days, respectively. The huge military hospital complex is abandoned now, shrouded in mystery, haunting, eerie, waiting to see what fate holds for it next...
A swarm of flies rose to greet me on my maiden visit, buzzing about me furiously as if to guard the secrets of the past. I’d just stepped into the flaky corridor, long and well-lit by the grace of sunshine and contemporary window frames with glass intact. Glass is not normally intact in such places.
The flies went berserk, in my face, my eyes, my mouth. I tried swatting the fuckers away but there were too many of them, probably still feasting on the flesh of a discarded patient and angry at the rare disturbance.
I had to withdraw from the infuriated cloud and then it struck me: These were no ordinary flies. They were Hitler’s henchmen, his henchflies if you will, guarding the entrance to the site were he was once at his most vulnerable, preserving the stillness and serenity for him, and driving visitors from rooting around in the past where the past had no wish to be disturbed. Fucking Nazi flies.
But damnit, I wasn’t going to be dissuaded by flies, Nazis or not.
I regrouped, gathered myself, and plunged through the swarm, swatting wildly even as the fuckers followed me. Eventually they desisted, left me on my way, and returned to gorging on whatever dead thing had been lying in the corridor.
I hurried on, there’s a lot to see. And smell. The smell of disinfectant still lingers in the operating rooms, permeating through the airy corridors, a caustic whiff in sharp contrast to the gentle palettes of old paint flaking off the walls and fantastic window frames. Beelitz’s dusty tiled corridors really are quite beautiful, and the abundance of fading glory and subtle shades make it a photographer’s dream.
It’s not quite forgotten – some of the buildings have been painstakingly restored – but the rest of the site, once home to more than 60 buildings, is in various stages of decay or preservation. I guess there just isn’t enough money to preserve them all, and it’s not something someone will do unless there’s something in it for them.
Its history begins in 1898, when Berlin’s health insurance authority bought around 140 hectares here to build a tuberculosis sanatorium and nursing home. The newly built 600-bed capacity treatment centre opened in early 1902, with separate facilities for men and women.
It was expanded over the following years to cater for Berlin’s sickly population, but all the patients were kicked out on August 3rd, 1914, shortly after the outbreak of war, when it was taken over by the Red Cross and 1,525 beds were made available for the new patients.
Hitler was among 12,586 of them to be treated here during the war, the poor blighter injuring his thigh after some inconsiderate buffoon threw a grenade at the Battle of the Somme. I’m sure he wasn’t complaining as he recuperated in nice peaceful surroundings under the supervision of the Beelitz Mädels.You can see a picture of him at Beelitz here.
Of course Hitler was a nobody then, so the nurses probably just ignored him and made fun of the fucker’s Austrian accent. The real heroes were off fighting at the front and not whining in luxurious hospitals. He managed to while away almost two months there until December 1916.
Beelitz returned to civilian use in 1920 and underwent further expansion. Another 200 hectares were purchased in 1928 and by the following year there were 1,338 beds available, two thirds for lung treatments.
The next war saw it commandeered to care for wounded soldiers again. Of course, Hitler was a big wig by then, and indirectly responsible for sending new patients back to his old stomping ground. Not that he had been doing much stomping with his gammy thigh.
The Russians took over after the war, as is their wont. The Red Army took over anything that could be taken over. How they managed to do it all is beyond me.Moscow must have been empty at the time.
Beelitz became the largest Soviet military hospital outside the USSR, and they weren’t all that keen to let it go either – they didn’t leave until 1994.
The seriously ill Honecker was admitted here with liver cancer in December 1990, having just seen his country cease to exist. He fled with his wife Margot to Moscow three months later as the vultures of justice began to circle. The Russians – evidently it wasn’t empty – returned him, but Honecker’s story is too long to get into here. He died in Chile in 1994.
Beelitz lost its raison d’être with the departure of the Russians that same year. Investors stepped in and duly went bust in 2001. Recently it seems to have been taken under the wing of a group committed to preserving the buildings somewhat.
Traces of the Russians remain, with murals on walls and an iconic soldier standing guard outside, but otherwise the ghosts that still roam Beelitz are guarding their secrets so closely they’ll probably never be revealed.

What
Beelitz-Heilstätten, former TB clinic and sanatorium turned military hospital during the first and second world wars, and kept on as same afterwards by the victorious Russians. Hitler and Honecker were its most famous patients but there were plenty of others too.

Where
Beelitz-Heilstätten, 14547 Beelitz, Germany. Simple, huh?

How to get there
I think you used to be able to get the regional train directly from Friedrichstraße but that no longer seems to be the case as Berlin does all it can to quell the notion of it having a great public transport system. Now you have to get the Potsdam-bound S7 S-Bahn to Wannsee and then get the RE7 train from there to the conveniently-named Beelitz-Heilstätten Bahnhof. Overall the journey should take an hour from Alexanderplatz. Apart from its name, you’ll know you’re on the right track when you arrive at the train station – it too is derelict.
When you leave the station, turn left from the direction the train was travelling and you’ll find the main remains of the old complex soon enough. As always, here’s a map to assist you.
When you get done with all the stuff to the left of the tracks, there’s more on the other side!

Getting in
Well, this is the thing. Some of the buildings are ridiculously easy to get into, with doors open practically inviting you to enter, while others are securely boarded up and locked making entry very tricky indeed. Most of the locked-up buildings (and better preserved ones) are to the left of the main road. The ones to the right were no challenge at all, apart from the flies.
Of course, it’s always the locked buildings that are the most tempting to enter. Why is it locked up? Imagine the treasures inside! So use your discretion. You’re not going to get into all the buildings, but you’ll probably see enough for a satisfactory outing.
I crawled around the drainage tunnels under one building hoping to find a way in, only to emerge in another building I’d already explored. On another two occasions I’d to get in through windows, first by balancing on a metal beam over three metre drop, and then by climbing boarding and squeezing in through a gap on top. It’s worth it though. Just make sure if you’re climbing in somewhere, that you’ll be able to climb out again. It’s good, but it ain’t that good.


When to go
Go early in the day, giving yourself plenty of time and daylight to explore. It’s not really the place to come for parties at night though of course there’s nothing stopping you from doing so if you have a mind to.

Difficulty rating
5/10. Getting here is piss easy, getting into some of the buildings easier still, but some of those buildings are stubbornly difficult to get into – if not impossible without actually breaking and entering (very much illegal and in no way encouraged) – which jacks up the difficulty rating a little bit.

Who to bring
Yes, this can be a romantic adventure for those of a romantic nature so certainly bring your wives, girlfriends, husbands, boyfriends along. Fuck it, bring them all at the same time! But it’s certainly a good idea to bring someone along to call for help if you get stuck in a tunnel or a roof collapses on your head.

What to bring
Dirty clothes. Do not wear your Sunday best or (as I did) new shoes (the only pair of shoes I had that did not make me feel like a tramp when I met real humans). But definitely bring dirty clothes. It’s worth it.
As usual, bring a camera, a couple of beers and something to eat. There are no shops in Beelitz-Heilstätten so you have to bring your own supplies if you want to avoid going thirsty/hungry. And don’t forget – as I always do – to bring a torch. Scrabbling around in tunnels in the dark may sound like fun but, well, maybe it doesn’t sound like much fun now that I think about it.

Dangers
Again, like in most of these places, some of the buildings are in a sorry state, and you don’t want them falling on you. Again, use your discretion. If a building looks like it might collapse it means it might collapse. Be fucking careful. As always, be on the look out for wardens, security guards, Polizei and that sort of thing.

Disclaimer – The person referred to as “I” in this post is not necessarily me, nor does “I” refer to anyone in particular, but is rather the letter that comes after H in the Roman alphabet. Its appearance throughout this post is probably coincidental. In fact, I, like this sentence, may not exist at all.

For more reading on Beelitz-Heilstätten (and there’s plenty) Ian Hawkins, an Englishman abroad, shared his thoughts and a little more history, including the chilling story of the “Beast of Beelitz”, in a very nice post here: http://yearinberlin.com/2012/05/21/breaking-into-beelitz/