You will know when it exists -- Obscure journalism direct from our man on the ground.

Friday, 28 May 2010

This is Germany? Tropical Islands in Berlin

I was in Berlin. I enjoy travel and one of the benefits I see is that it lets you witness other ways that things are done. I think the sought after exhilaration that comes from this is when you personally consider other ways of doing things, when ideas are sparked. My trip to the capital of Germany was no exception.
I saw men cooking and selling hotdogs from backpack style devices that even featured an umbrella, one-man-band style.
I saw the Maze World; a gay cruising club that had its own labyrinth! I was not open minded enough (or perhaps not foolish enough) to go in but the idea of a maze as a social setting seemed brilliant. I’m almost certain Jorge Luis Borges would have approved.
I saw houses made almost entirely of multi-coloured conservatories,
cafes with astro turf gardens,
deck chairs by the river.
I had to leave the city centre though for a spectacle that would truly blow my mind.
I was staying with my Dad who had recently moved to Berlin to live permanently. Alongside me as a fellow tourist was my brother and mid way into our holiday of an evening our Dad spoke of an indoor water park. Our first response was “…and you only thought to mention that now?” Maybe it was because my brother was 19 and I was 23, but no matter how old I am I think I will always enjoy rubber ring slides.
So the next day we were on the autobahn heading towards Dresden. Following signs for ‘Tropical Islands’ we drove off the main road through some trees with no sign of any civilisation. Until in a huge clearing there it was: A huge pill shaped silver structure. Originally designed to be an aircraft-building yard and hanger, this construction was now home to a tropical holiday world!
As entered we were given electronic bracelets that could be used instead of money to purchase anything within the dome (just pay the total on leaving) They also opened our lockers which in no time at all were full of all our clothes except our swim shorts.
We walked into a humid world, the sounds of exotic birds and children playing filled the air.
We strolled along the South Seas beach looking for a spot to lay down our towels but all the sunbeds had already been snapped up, a harsh reminder that we were in Germany. Soon enough however we found a spot on the sand heated by the suns glorious rays. Looking at the horizon of painted blue sky and fluffy cotton (literally) clouds I recalled The Truman Show movie.
Later we enjoyed the 32°C waters of the Bali Lagoon, stroked Koi Carp, ate Indian tandoori cuisine at one of the many restaurants, walked alongside Cockatiels in the rainforest, played mini golf, relaxed in Jacuzzis and of course went on all the waterslides.
As stand alone activities maybe these would not stand out but having it all housed in this one bizarre setting gave the day a dreamlike quality (especially on stepping back into the chill air of the real world after a heady cocktail or two).
The strangest experience of all however was had by my father who, as an Easter gift from my brother and I, took a trip suspended face down underneath an egg-shaped helium airship. With orange wings strapped to his arms he navigated the air paddling like a lost turtle. To stop the airship floating away it was held at 30 meters up by an assistant holding a string.
I left thinking about the whole concept; it was even possible to stay overnight with a range of accommodation including tents! This enterprise gave a whole new meaning to creative capitalism, this was inspiring innovative capitalism.

Lets hope the future is full of more fantastic ventures to invigorate our concept of living.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

They say if you go forward in time and see yourself that one of you must die - Jude Law

It was a typical April afternoon, the grey threat of rain being largely ignored in the sky. Little Venice was full of a convergence of boats from London’s outlying canals.
A white Lurcher with a red neckerchief slinks past a scraggly grey Irish Wolfhound. Real gypsies sell movie inspired cuddly toys and travel pillows that support your neck. Fake gypsies all dressed up sell ‘traditional’ canal giftware and paint faces.
An array of cultures, classes and ages bustle amongst one another on the urban towpath without a hint of animosity.
I am giving out information about the Pirate Club, a charity I help out that provides narrowboat trips and kayaking for community groups. I am mainly approaching families with children as today we are running free half hour canoeing sessions for kids over the age of 8.
I see a man with his two sons walking towards me. His sons are on either side of him and are holding his hands. I begin speaking:
“Do you know about…”
In mid sentence I look up and see what appears to be myself in 15 years time.
“… The Pirate Club?”
Jude Law replies
“Yes I do, thank you”
in a soft yet powerful and polite tone.
I say okay and we pass on our ways amicably.