so first of all it’s not really spelunking because most of it was above ground, but it sounds better than “exploring abandoned buildings”. i think that february activities can best be summed up as adventuresome. first i had the chance to tour a mostly-empty-for-a-long-time building on unter den linden which used to house various embassies and ddr offices. i snagged the green version of the adding machine shown above, which does plug into the wall but uses a system of rotors to do calculations. when you multiply the rotors go “clunk clunk clunk chunka clunk” for a long time because it is just iterating over addition. the building also featured a huge phone switch complete with hand soldered circuits and ddr era manuals with circuit board layouts so you can clone the whole switch. in other parts of the building there were abandoned piles of keys, holes in the floor, parallel ports in the walls, interflug rotary phones and bullet proof doors. you can see where some electronics were hastily ripped out of the wall, ah to think what sorts of spying was going on in that building.
next up on the docket of urban exploration comes der Flaschenturm, the bottle tower. it is a testament to the power of the graffiti and street artists who reside and travel through this fine city. (photos here). the entire inside is completely blanketed in spray art. the guys i went with were there to do some urban rappelling, who was i to say no? i brought along my climbing harness but as the light was fading fast the photos of the rope stuff were not as well documented as the street art.
i would venture to say that you haven’t really seen berlin unless you’ve been inside at least a few abandoned buildings — that doesn’t even include the squats, converted factories, and spontaneous parties. berlin is rife with left-over structures begging to be reanimated.