If you are looking for some special comfort or experience, you will find it possibly at Hotel Sidi Driss in old Matmata, Southern-Tunisia. We had the opportunitiy to visit the site during a round trip through all Tunisia in 2006, and it attracts not only fans of Star Wars in which this filming location featured as the home of Luke Skywalker on the planet Tatooine for the 4th film episode in 1976.
The contemporary hotel was designed as a traditional Berber troglodyte underground building at medieval times. The Berbers created them by digging a large pit in the ground with a depth of ca. 10 m. Around the perimeter of this pit artificial caves were then dug to be used as rooms, with some homes comprising multiple pits, connected by trench-like passageways. These structures in the ground were much cooler than buildings on the surface, ancient airconditions not requiring any energy like today.
Actual accomodation fares at Hotel Sidi Driss are not really high, as the standard is obviously quite simple, rural and original. Room numbers are pinned on the long existing old walls, but we did not test it as we had already a booked accomodation at the oasis of Tozeur. Besides a lot of people are passing by for a short visit to feel a little bit of multiple Star Wars ambitions and more here in the vast desert of the Sahara.
During summer holidays a friendly advice and recommendation led us to this geological quite special place and rock formation near the Isar meadows of Lower Bavaria in the small village of Usterling. The location is called Wachsender Fels, (i. e. growing rock) but this self-enlarging boulder is not situated within a stalactite cave but just outside at the end of a hillside.
The growing rock with an age of ca. 5,000 years has today a length of 40 m and a height of 5 m, each year 1-2 cm are added by the very small water runnel flowing down on its crest. The fluid from a nearby karst spring contains a lot of soluted limestone and carbon dioxide. As soon as the water reaches the surface the carbon dioxide begins to leave the fluid and the limestone is being deposited down on the rock.
We luckily reached the site late in the afternoon when the last sunbeams of the day touched and transformed the rock for a very short time to a real sculpture. A few moments later this unexpected appearance rapidly dissolved again with the approaching sun-set. A wooden stairways leads visitors easily to the beginning of the growing rock.
The German geological term for this kind of rocks is steinerne Rinne (i. e. stony runnel) but an equivalent scientific term in English seemingly does not exist for this more seldom rock formation near karst hills and mountains.
Each voyage to the South delivers further spontaneous aspects of another subtropical dream nearby.
What is nowadays more touching and impressing, a reflective artwork swimming on an apart lake and becoming part of nature or the fluid mirror image of a tree transforming to a fragile visual sculpture being only changed by cool waves and smooth breezes?
Although these pictures show a lot of water we are still waiting for some real rain now for six months here in Central-Europe. The summer started by mid of April and has not ended so far till today making it really easy to stroll around such eye-minded finds.
In fact this site in Berlin comprises one of the most weird locations which I have visualized and explored so far. What I am showing here is however not at all comprehensive as this huge premises tends to be more a wild industrial labyrinth of ruins in continuous change, a real adventure playground with varied looks and diverse risky ambitions.
The place is better known under its original name Flughafen Johannisthal and was in use as an airport until the early 50s of the last century. Being situated in the Eastern part of Berlin the facilities were then changed to a huge industrial production area of cooling devices by the administration of the former German Democratic Republic being called VEB Kühlomat. After the unification of Germany this industrial site was closed in the early 90s of the last century and set into a deep sleep till today.
I have visited the strange place in early September for a couple of hours and therefore only seen a part of the endless technical jungle where nature tries to cover all again quite quickly. Everywhere debris is lying in the way like thoughtful obstacles but more dangerous are unexpected holes in the grounds and the poor condition of the halls, hangars and buildings where several fires have occured in the recent years such making the site not safer and a bit spooky in general.
So when loafing around this particular enchanted place several nervous and insisting noises always accompanied me on my obscure way so as if the ground was mourning and complaining about its fate – groaning wooden beams, dissolving walls and a curious sharp wind drifting around the next dilapidated corner leading to a contradictional but pure amazement overall.
The fabulous site attracts a lot of creative people as an open and free space for their multiple ambitions in the sector of murals and graffiti. And it is fascinating to realize how a little bit of colour can change a place of decay to something else and again completely new.
You may still find quite a lot of places like this in the German capital but the number is anyhow decreasing. So it is also not clear how long this site will exist in its actual shape furtheron because the building of new houses with urgent required appartments is planned here by the city for 2021.
If you intend stepping into this labyrinth, it may be found in Berlin-Treptow at Segelfliegerdamm. You have only to look for options in order to cross the fence, such opportunities are always available somewhere.