Sunday, October 18, 2015

Day 66: Mount Mitte

We have yet to dine our for breakfast. We have done a lot of lunches and dinners, but no breakfasts. Technically, I guess you could say we have since we've eaten a few hotel breakfasts. But, we're not counting that as it's not ordered and served!

So, we find a few waffle houses to try that are walking distance from our apartment. We choose Kauf Dich Glücklich Café. Xander gets a chocolate-karamel waffle and Venice gets a vanilla waffle. Chris and I split a "Royal" breakfast... which turns out... is a lot like the breakfasts we had at the hotels. Cheeses, deli meats, bread, hard boiled eggs, olives, and such. I do miss a warm omelette and hearty potatoes.

The atmosphere is bright and quaint. The food, not quite what I had expected, was good (however, I really was looking for comfort food). The kids enjoyed their waffles, although, Venice couldn't finish hers as it was overly sweet (we've had a similar experience at Off The Waffle back home).

Back at home, we change into long pants, socks, and athletic shoes (even the kids!). We are ready to try Mount Mitte again (remember, we've been foiled by rain and missing the last training session). We could walk, but we save energy and take a tram there.

Mount Mitte's structure (left), Excited kids (right)

When we arrive, there is one family on the structure, otherwise it is just us. The gentleman behind the counter is modest about his English abilities (he does fantastic and we understood all the instructions) as he outfits us with helmets, harnesses, and instructions on how to use our cable locks. Basically, after our training session, we are allowed to go anywhere on the three-story structure alone. We can even jump from the top level, hooking ourselves into a carabiner rig. Again, all on our own.

View from third floor in the building at Teufelsberg
Side note: We have heard about how Germans trust people to make their own best decisions. Meaning, they do not sue if they make a dumb mistake. Thus, not an overly strong need for "Don't touch this," "Warning," etc. Also, not a strong need for barriers, netting, etc. I do see this some places, but there are places where I definitely notice it's missing. For example, when we visited Teufeslberg, I noticed, there really were no barriers keeping people "safe" when exploring the art inside the building. There was a rail, but you could easily fit through and fall or jump. Yes, I kept my eye on Xander (who did a great job staying safe), just in case. Some places didn't even have the thin rail.

So, with this in mind, I am amazed at how we get our short instruction and then we're on our own. Very different, say, then when we did our zip-lining tour in Montana. Granted, that's zip-lining and does need a lot more guidance. Still, it feels "brave" for us to be climbing up to 3 stories high, hooking up our own rigs, and then jumping off to the mattress below, all on our own. Just saying.

Venice riding the "red-disk zip-line" on the first level (left)
and walking the slack-line on the second level (right)

The website led us to believe that we would have 2 hours on the structure. We were unclear if this included the training time or if it was in addition to the training time, (which, according to the website, would take about 30 minutes). Since the guy only needed to train us four, training went fairly quickly. So, what does that mean for how much time we have left on the structure? We're not sure.

We began on the first level (which is actually a flight of stairs up, so you do have some height, but not too much). We spent about 30 minutes on this level trying to accomplish everything. I found that the first course I picked, was one of the hardest on this level and definitely made it clear this would be a day using a LOT of grip strength, shoulder strength, and core strength.

Platform in the middle of obstacles on the first level

Then up to level 2, where we spent another 30 minutes. By this time, the other family that was here when we arrived, left. We had the entire structure to ourselves. Pretty awesome. And note: Even later, when a few others joined us, most went in order of level 1, then 2, then 3. So, for the most part, we still had each level to ourselves. We are not thinking how grateful we are that we missed out on those prior attempts. Due to cooler weather, threat of rain... no one else is thinking of coming, so we score on getting the place to ourselves and having no wait times for anything we want to do.

On this level, obstacles were definitely more difficult and you are higher up. However, having spent the first 30 minutes mastering the first level, the second level wasn't too much harder. More balancing, more griping, etc. but by now we've figured out how to hold on, how to maneuver the ropes and such. This is where the largest slack-line crosses from one side of the level, to the other. I held onto my rig the entire time. The slack-line shook with every step, and it was, what... 60 feet across? I don't know. But it wasn't the Grand Canyon.

Next, we took on the third level. Level 3 is not as big as the other levels. The upper deck is solid, located in the middle of the level) unlike the other levels which have a "donut" shaped deck forming the "ring" on the inside of the obstacles. There are still several obstacles up on the third level to tackle, but it does feel like a few less. And yes, they do seem to be even more challenging than those on the previous levels.

The third level is where the cars are located. While Xander isn't a fan of heights, he did make it up here, so that he could sit in a car (something we've all been wanting to do since we've seen this place many months ago from Chris' first-trip photos from Berlin). Getting to the cars is probably the easiest obstacle on the entire structure. It may be on the third level, but the planks leading you to the cars are very stable. I'm sure this is so that the cars remain stable. As we talked through some of our fears, we decided if the cars were to fall, we'd still be hanging by our harnesses up in the sky, so it was all good.  Note: It was hard for some of us to actually "sit" in the cars, due to the harness holding us up.

The mint-green VW Bug (top)
Photos from the Zebra Trabi (bottom)

After photographing ourselves in the cars, we explored Level 3. Xander did a few obstacles and then decided he'd prefer to remain on levels 1 and 2. Once Chris, Venice and I completed what we wanted to do accomplish on the third level, we prepared for the jump down. Chris was first. Then Venice. Then me. I don't think any of us made a good landing our first jump. Nice to have the mattress at the bottom to catch us! As we watched others jump, later in the day, it was obvious that most don't make a graceful landing that first time. I think you're just overwhelmed with survival and that you just jumped off a three story building that you are not thinking about balancing and landing squarely on your feet.

Venice grabbing the rig, hooking in, and post jump.
Chris hooking himself in (right)

At this point, we'd probably been on the structure for 1.5 hours, we'd done all the levels and completed one jump. Venice asked the guy running the place how much time we had left. He looked at her bewildered and said, "until 8pm". It was 3:30, maybe? So, we are unclear about the timing now. Maybe because it was so empty, he doesn't care if we're on there "forever"? Or maybe this is how it is all the time? We don't know We don't care. We just continue to climb and play for another 1.5 hours.

At one point, another family did join us on the structure (along with another couple). The family had two small children (the older one, maybe was Xander's age?). The littlest one decided to come right up to level 3 to jump off. He got hooked in. Walked to the edge. Hesitated. Inched back. Inched forward. Bent his knees. Backed up. Decided not to go. His dad went. Then his mom came over to help (but she was pretty wobbly herself) the little one hook back in and try a second time. No go. Now their older son goes. Then a gentleman in front of us. Then the little boy tries again. Meanwhile, Chris, Venice and I were waiting and waiting. For the most part, I didn't mind waiting. What was a bummer, is that we were thinking this would be our last jump and we'd be done. Now, we're waiting 15 minutes and getting pretty cold up there. The dad came back up and encouraged his son while the mom inched back to the main deck. Finally, the son jumped. We all cheered. In the end it wasn't too bad, but we sure wish they would have offered for us to skip in line because we would have all been down in 2 minutes. But as it was, we waited, gotten cold, and were a bit "down" with how our session ended... so, now that the family wasn't up there anymore.... we decided to jump again! Much better! Hike up the flights, hook right in, jump! Whoosh!

My view from the "Beach Bench" on the third level (left), you can see my harness
obstructing my view as well as the rows and rows of beach volleyball courts.
Good-bye Mount Mitte (off in the distance), you've been great! (right)

Chris and I were ready to be done. So we returned our gear. After a little bit, it was getting colder, just sitting there, so we asked the kids to wrap it up.

We had wanted to visit another museum today, but that obviously wasn't going to happen. We spent a lot longer at Mount Mitte than we had planned. A good thing too. It was good for the kids to play and explore in such a fantastic playground.

We walked to Rosenthaler Platz to have dinner at a Russian restaurant, Gorky, that Chris had been to before. He wanted to share their food with us. We ordred a ton of dumplings, borscht soup, and (if we choose to believe) authentic stroganoff. It was a wonderful meal with great flavours. We left a satiated group.

Good exercise. Good food. Fun day.

I'll leave you with this video of Venice jumping (I'd like to say she landed most of her jumps on her feet, but she was being silly in this one, and thus landed silly):

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