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At 125 metres above the Alex

Base Flying in Berlin at Alexanderplatz
Base Flying at Alexanderplatz © Vertical Sports Events GmbH

How did I get here? What do I do here? What kind of hedonistic society do I live in, where people do something like THIS for fun? These and other questions crossed my mind when I stood in sheer panic on the highest hotel in Berlin. On the roof of the Park Inn – 125 metres above Alexanderplatz square – the Base Flying attraction has already been offered since 2009. In concrete terms this means: with the world’s fastest abseil winch daring adventurists and adrenalin junkies descend at free-fall speed. So how did I get here, since I don’t see myself in one of these groups?

I somewhat let myself be convinced by my colleague weeks before to try out this attraction. Although I had a rather uneasy feeling at that moment, I suppressed it rapidly again.

However, the day got nearer and nearer and at last ‘jump day’ arrived! I was rather surprised that I had a good sleep the night before, but now that I stand on the roof, my heart is pounding like mad. Well then? The view is definitely stunning but difficult to enjoy for the moment. It is really high! I cleverly let some people in the queue go first, so that I can have a closer look at what’s going on: however, watching screaming people fall from a roof doesn’t make it easier. I succeed in resisting the temptation of letting pass all the people and keep my place in the middle of the queue because I know that as the last in the row, I would anyway not jump! I then really tread on the footbridge running between the street canyons. As if all of this were not dramatic enough, it now starts raining.

When I arrive at the front, my fingers cling to the railing – one of the Base Flying staff, who seems to calm down people more frequently up here, encourages me and pats me on my back. I get a lot of advice like “don’t look down but straight ahead!” or “fully close your eyes!”. As unbelievable as this may be, it helps and I calm down. Nonetheless I almost decide to take the stairs down! But then I make it a point of honour: “I will not be the only one to step back!”. I stand for much longer on the footbridge than all the others but at last I let the winch get me into a horizontal position and hang above the Alex. I would like to emphasise once more: 125 metres above the square! I am more or less happy that I do not have to jump myself but that I am simply supposed to let go of the railing – that sounds easier than it is. I can’t help it, I squint my eyes and scream like a little girl. When I am actually dropped, I open my eyes widely again because I want to see what is happening to me.

The screaming is, however, getting even louder! The moment of free-fall is indescribable, cool and somewhat also sublime! I only fall for a few seconds then the flight is softly decelerated and I am slowly descended. When I arrive on safe ground I am full of adrenalin. But the feeling of overwhelming relief is even bigger. And there is a boundless pride that I did it after all, despite all the hesitations! Then we “survivors” treat ourselves to a beer on the roof terrace of the hotel. Proud, happy and relieved is what we look like! Whenever I talk about this experience, I have a big grin on my face.

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