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Berlin’s watery west pt. 2: Tegel

Brücke am Tegeler Hafen

Looking for Humboldt

After last week’s boat ride, we went back to our preferred mode of transportation: our bikes. Normally when Martin and me, go for a ride, we pick a destination a bit outside, take the train and have an actual plan of what we want to see and do. I was fighting some serious back pains the day before, so decided to stay in the city limits and make it just a half-day affair.

a man standing in front of a building

Martin – administration – and Sascha – all things internet -at the end of their not-so-short bike tour through Berlin-Tegel.

Tegel is Berlin’s north-west corner and just like Wannsee it has a lot of water, although unlike it, it is largely a middle-class neighbourhood with a few pockets of very well-off people. We met at the old watch tower on Kieler Ufer, a memorial to the first person, who was ever shot at the Berlin Wall. From there we went on a north-western tangent, passing Ploetzensee, where they were just shooting a movie, following the canal that connects Berlin and Spandau. [Detour] Spandau is actually much older than Berlin proper and like most of the city’s districts it has only become a part of Berlin in 1920 when more than 60 communities were incorporated into the city. When I grew up as a kid in West-Berlin, people would still say “Spandau bei Berlin” ~ “S adjacent to Berlin” as most people don’t consider it a part of Berlin proper – even today, locals might answer “Spandau” when you meet them on holiday in a foreign country. [/detour]. After convincing ourselves that the new district ‘Wasserstadt’ looks exactly as artificial as we thought we cross the Havel and turn north to Tegel proper using a small ferry to Tegelort – one burrough of Tegel.

In parts of Tegel, garbage disposal is done by boat, because there's just not enough space to connect all the small islands and inlets with a bridge - it might be too expensive as well.

In parts of Tegel, garbage disposal is done by boat, because there’s just not enough space to connect all the small islands and inlets with a bridge – it might be too expensive as well.

Brücke in Tegel Brücke am Tegeler Hafen

Even as someone who lived almost all his life in the city, it never ceazes to amaze me, how different Berlin can be. Tegel is so far away from the hipster-infested, overcrowded third-wave coffee shops and vegan diners as it can get without leaving the bloody continent. I mean, they literally still serve espresso with wipped cream and don’t even think it’s neccessary to put up a warning sign – don’t they know that every time someone does that an Italian guy has to move back to his mother? Sorry, that was uncalled for. If it wasn’t so out of the way, Tegel would be perfect; huge parks, water everywhere and locals for whom your personal look is less important than the local harbour festival.

Tegel castle – Home of the Humboldts

a tree in front of a house

Tegel castle

Tegel castle

Wilhelm von Humboldt's grave

Wilhelm von Humboldt’s grave in the castle’s park

a person standing in front of a tower

It’s a bit underdeveloped in terms of proper sightseeing destinations, but two of my favorite role models grew up here in a beautiful neo-classicist castle, and it’s still there. I’m talking of course about the Humboldt brothers, whose family still lives in the castle and keeps at least the park with the family grave open to the public. After a nice walk in the park talking about how life must’ve been for those two very different geniuses (please read about them, they were both absolutely awesome), we decided it’s time for a lunch break, where we encountered the coffee atrocity from earlier. On the way we found out The Donald had been arrested and now sits in front of a retirement home waiting to be proccessed in…

American police car in Tegel Donald Trump puppet in a police car

Circumventing Tegel airport we come upon the Jungfernheide (~virgin’s meadow) park with pseudo-historical water tower. Built in 1927 it was pretty much obsolete the moment it was finished, but they wanted a landmark, when they turned the area over to public after it was used as a military training ground for more than 100 years. Incidentally it was built close to the site where in 1830 the last witch in Prussia was burned on the stake. A more sustainable type of available entertainment is the high-rope course in the park. It covers a couple of hectares with a dozen courses of all levels, but from the outside it’s so well integrated into the forest that only occasionally you see or hear someone. From an earlier visit I remember, they’re very organized and the safety procedures are quite simple and fail-safe.

And that was that. All told maybe 35-40 km with numerous options to jump in a lake on a hot day and definitely a side of Berlin that not many people know.