Dinosaurs, ferris wheels, and Russians

My dear friend Evan arrived in Berlin on Friday; given the perfect (75, brilliantly sunny) weather, I immediately whisked him off to the beach, where he slept and I swam and read. The next day, we sought out some real adventure, and so we set out for the Spreepark.

The Spreepark was formerly the GDR’s only amusement park, with 1.5 million visitors a year. Post-reunification, it struggled financially, and in 2002, with the park insolvent, its owner fled to Peru. (He’s since, according to Wikipedia, been “sentenced to seven years in jail for attempting to smuggle 180 kg of cocaine with a value of £14 million from Peru to Germany in the masts of a ‘flying carpet’ ride.”) Since then, it’s been abandoned — by all except the occasional trespasser, that is.

I first learned about the park from my brother Noah, who breached its fence a few months ago and recommended that I do the same. Time being short, I won’t recount every detail of our entry into, or hurried exit from, the park; but I will share a few photos that I hope will give you a sense of how amazing it is to have the whole place to yourself.

The triceratops guarding the entrance.

The old ferris wheel, and your faithful blogger.

The prevailing sentiment.

Evan, gleeful at having reached the ferris wheel.

Evan inside the ferris wheel. Under his weight, the wheel started to turn, leading us to hop out quickly and certainly attracting the attention of the security man -- hence our hasty exit from the park.

Some swans and dinosaurs, you know the drill.

A movie set-like model German village.

On the way back from the Spreepark, we paid a visit to another GDR relic, a Soviet memorial in Treptower Park. Like any good Soviet memorial, it’s massive and perfectly symmetrical and has dozens of inscriptions about those who spilled blood in the name of the socialist homeland:

Standing in front of the enormous statue of a Russian soldier — young child in one hand and 20-foot-long sword in the other, perched atop a crushed swastika — Evan was overcome with Soviet pride:

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