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MAY 29, 2006 7:55 AM


Two days ago my friend and me wanted to take a day trip to the Spreewald. We never found the Wald, but we found something grander. This structure is the largest self-supporting dome in the world. It was designed as a manufactory for the "CargoLifter" a "super heavy lift cargo air ship"-zeppelin, the largest zeppelin ever to be built, which was never implemented because "CargoLifter" went bankrupt. The hangar explodes all sense of proportion, scale and space as it shows up out of nowhere in the rural landscape when you take the highway south from Berlin. A Malaysian investor has taken to the project a few years ago, and turned it into a place called "Tropical Islands." It's a futuristic dream straight out of a science fiction novel, it has UTOPIA written all over it. When you enter, all Jules Verne movies you have seen as a child on sleepy sunday afternoons come back in a muddled déjà vu and you expect to see flocks of paper maché dinosaurs moving about in the distance. The temperature inside is a pleasant perceived 30 Celcius, and it's very hazy, which adds to the sensation that this cannot be real. Except it's real. There is real tropical flora and fauna (run-away turtles, guppies), and real East-Germans in bathing suits playing beach volley ball and lounging in deck chairs, drinking mojitos while the artificial lighting is making them look tan under a sky of glass and steel. There is a hot air balloon going up and down for visitors to get a scenic view, and you can bring your tent and camp on the "beach."
Or maybe it is a large-scale social experiment. Bus loads of retirees can be seen at the entrance, but everyone inside is young. I'm suspicious, none of my friends or anyone else I ask in the city seems to ever have heard of it. What are they preparing for? Is this the future?

Tropical Islands

I've totally BEEN there! Did you see the "Hawaiian" dance performace with pyrotechnics?? Perhaps the most surreal experience I've had. I totally slept on the beach in Germany.

mary beth | May 30, 2006 2:11 PM

nooooo! you have? i would have gone in, but i couldn't afford it.. (you know there are actually real beaches in germany a good one and a half hour car ride away?)

nina | June 1, 2006 6:26 PM


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