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Breaking into SpreePark

Last year myself and a few other friends were exploring Berlin and on my top to do list was to  explore an abandoned theme park of which I had heard was nearby; I couldn't miss the opportunity to photograph it, so we all grabbed our cameras and walked through what seemed like a very long walk through the woods. There was an eeriness about the place, I'm not sure whether it's because we were in another country and slightly disorentatied or because the day was dull and the light was darkened by all the tall trees surrounding us. Nevertheless, there was a heavy sense of the Blair Witch Project around me, perhaps that's just because I endulge in too many horror films, or maybe it's because of this 'shelter' we stumbled across that made me feel as though I was tresspassing in to the unknown. 

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After half hour or so of walking, we came across a large fencing of which surrounded the old theme park, we walked up toward a building which I assume was the old entrance to the theme park. The windows were all boarded up and a piece of history stood beautifully before me. We had heard that the theme park had no security for many years, however in recently people had begun to vandalise things inside the park and now security patrolled. I looked from over the fence and saw two men walking around the park. I wasn't sure at that point if it was another two explorers or whether it was guards. Undeterred we waiting for them to go out of view and we walked along until we found a hole in the ground under the fence that was just about large enough for us all to climb under... and so we entered SpreePark. 

Once inside my adrenaline spiked and although a little concerned and frightened I was buzzing off urban exploring, I can see why people do it! There was 5 of us that entered the park, which, in hindsight, was probably not a good idea, we should have split up, but I'll get to that bit later.  As the place felt morbid, we stuck together and walked along an old railway line that run along the outskirts of the park. It was clear to see that the shrubbery had overgrown and things had most definitely been vandalised, mostly with graffiti... I, for one, am not a huge fan of graffiti, the park and all the things left behind had a kind of lost, forgotten allure to them, to which I don't feel graffiti compliments. (why can't people leave things alone) Soon were faced with an old T-Rex, who has clearly been moved out of place and was missing limbs, the graffiti on his body ruined it for me... perhaps I should try to photoshop it all out... but that's another project. 

Walking further up the train line we came across an old stall, of which games would have been won or lost. This was very interesting, the doors were open and you could venture inside. With no light but the ones on our phones, we all huddled together, feeling sure a monster was about to jump out and startle us. I think our heightened senses of adrenaline were playing mind tricks on us. Inside, the walls were heavily graffiftied, but this time, I found them more interesting. There were different languages written on the walls and this told a story that people from all over the world had explored here. I liked that. We didn't stay in the hut too long, there were many rooms but the floors were flooded so we couldn't venture in without wading into the unknown and not many of us were willing with so much more park to explore.  

We walked further along the train line to find a small station, the train wasn't there but there was something beautiful about the rotting roof against the yellow wooden poles that held it up. So I stopped to take an image of it; the way the track leads to no where is something that I felt profoundly symbolised the life of the park. To me there is a lot of symbolism in this image. 

A short walk along the tracks and jackpot! We stumbled across a rollercoaster. It looked fantastic! The trees were engulfing it and intertwining around the metal work as though inviting it to become one with the environment. It blended in, the metal and the trees all of the same colour, infusing together as time forgets what once existed. So static, such a juxtaposition of what it was intended to be used for, and then the best part. The tunnel... a huge mouth of an animal that the rollercoaster would have rode into, I could see that, in it's prime, it would have been a thrilling ride to all who rode it. We were all so excited at this point, all 5 of us rushing around our fingers clicking our cameras, all composing images and letting our creative minds run wild with such an amazing discovery. We spent a good 30 minutes just at this rollercoaster. Enjoying every part of it. Walking in the tunnel and along the tracks.

 I perched myself on the tracks and spent a short while taking zoom burst images from inside the tunnel. I wanted to recreate what it would have looked and felt like if I was riding the rollercoaster. I wanted to bring something that stood so still and lonely back to life.... 

 We climbed high into the station, the stairs surrounding it were covered in wood and bricks to deter people from climbing up to it, nevertheless we climbed, as much as it was hazardous, we were all still buzzing from the adrenaline and felt quite invincible. We each sat in a cart of the train, which again had been extensively graffitied, apart from that the train didn't look in bad shape. We all laughed along together, relishing in the discovery until... a dog from down below aggressively barked up at us in the carts. We dived into the bottom of the carts attempting to hide, unfortunately for me and my platinum blonde hair and a few of the others wearing bright yellow we were soon found. Poking our heads over the seats we were faced with two huge german men screaming at us in another language. My heart pounded! 

Like naughty little children we silently climbed down to ground level trying to refrain from making eye contact with these two very large men who clearly were outraged with our trespassing. They didn't speak much english at this point and none of the 5 of us spoke any german so with a lot of pointing and huffing and puffing they marched us to another abandoned building. At this point, I felt very vulnerable and scared. Exchanging nervous glances off my friends, we reluctantly walked to where we were shown to go by the men and in doing so they walked us through the middle of the theme park. It took every once of me not to take some sneaky images as the photo opportunities were endless. We walked past tall cartoon like buildings, a huge ferris wheel, a log flume ride, lots of characters made from plastic much like the T-Rex we encountered before, swan boats in the lake... so many photo opportunities missed. I felt overwhelmed with sadness that we had been caught as it was clear there was so much more to explore. We were lead up a steep pair of steps that were wonky and I immediately felt as though I was walking in to the crooked house (like the one at Southend-on-sea adventure park!) I was the only female in the group and my heart was racing! 

Once we were upstairs we were told to get our ID cards out so they could make a record of them. Their english was sparse but we as a group tried to make light humour of the situation and explain that we are respectful photographers that had no intention of vandalising anything, other then stealing a few images because we thought the place was amazing. They explained there had been arson in recent months there and as a result the place is port rolled 24-7 with no one allowed inside... it's a shame a few have to ruin it for all. Honestly I could have spent all day in that place, it was so enchanting, scary and beautiful. Everything that I love! 

After making copies of our ID we were warned that if we ever came here again in our lives, we would be arrested and charged, with a huge relief to us all, the guards walked us out and said goodbye politely, not before again reiterating to never come back or there will be trouble! 

Visiting Spree Park was the highlight of my experience in Berlin, although I'm not going to advise anyone to trespass, it was a fantastic experience and I would have loved to have seen more of it. I looked at images online after my visit and some people have explored it all... Jealous! What a shame it is that a lonely park sits in the middle of a darkened wood unbeknown to most people who walk by it. Its a place where time has stood still and I hope it remains untouched and respected as it should, it's a little piece of beautiful history. I hope, one day, I can revisit it, that's if the security guards aren't there! I'll end this post with a few more images I took from the other side of the fence, as we circled around the perimeter to see what we missed... 

Lainey Lawlor