Archive for February, 2012

Hahn USAF Air Base, Germany

Posted: February 29, 2012 in Germany

My thoughts were floating and somehow it came to my mind: I never presented in this blog my first urbex adevnture, the beginning! And I did have some pictures of it! Well, yeah. It was in 2007. October. I was in my way for a trip to Bratislava and Wien, which would end in Prague where I was establishing myself. So it was a big moment, an important journey. I was flying with Ryanair, with a scale in the small aiport of Frankfurt-Hahn.

It happens this airport, before it started to being used by Ryanair, was an important American Air Base, playing a major role during the Cold War. From Wikipedia:

Hahn Air Base was a frontline NATO facility in Germany for over 40 years during the Cold War (former ICAO EDAH, now EDFH as Frankfurt-Hahn Airport). It is located 10 km (6.2 mi) from the town of Kirchberg and 20 km (12 mi) from the town of Simmern, and 2 km from the tiny village of Hahn in the Rhein-Hunsrück district of Rhineland-Palatinate in west-central Germany.

It was the home of the United States Air Force 50th Fighter Wing (in various designations) for most of those years as part of the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE). It was one of several USAFE bases in Germany (Zweibrucken Air Base, Ramstein, Sembach, Bitburg, Spangdahlem, and Rhein-Main) all within 100 km (62 mi) of each other. Beyond their location in the heart of US troop concentrations, these air bases were well situated to reach all locations within Europe and the Mediterranean region.

At the end of the Cold War, Hahn Air Base supported more than 13,000 people and three squadrons of F-16 tactical fighters. When the Cold War threat of an invasion of West Germany subsided, the United States was left with a huge excess capacity of expensive airfields in Europe.

As a result, the 50th TFW was inactivated in 1991 after 35 years at Hahn. The 496th TFS was inactivated on 15 May; The 313th TFS on 1 July, and the 10th TFS on 30 September. The 50th Tactical Fighter Wing was inactivated on 30 September 1991. On 30 January 1992 the 50th was activated as the 50th Space Wing at Falcon (later, Schriever) AFB, Colorado.

On 30 September 1993, most of Hahn Air Base was returned to civil German authorities but USAFE retained a small portion as a communications site.

The German government decided to turn the former NATO airfield into a civil airport. One of the main investors in the development of the new Frankfurt-Hahn Airport was Fraport AG, which primarily runs Frankfurt International Airport, the aim being to reduce the amount of traffic using that airport.

The faculty and police training school of the Rheinland-Pfalz State Police were combined at a new joint facility located at the air base’s former housing area in 1996.”

Further info at the Wikipedia Article.

Well, and there I was, with a full day ahead of me, nothing to do. So why not explore the nearby facilities. So I walked. And walked. Eventually I found hangars, abandoned. The old checkpoints reminded me of the famous Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie. I saw the barracks, the squadrons headquarters and assorted structures related with military activity. I can’t remember the details anymore, but it was a cool day, although a bit cold and damp. All of it carrying my full cargo (remember, I was moving to Prague….).

Now, the best bit was the bunker. Yes, an underground bunker I found. Explorable. A wreck but by then no graffiti.  It was awkward. Exploring former Soviet bases it’s common. Now, it’s not every day that you ave a change to to the same with their counterparts, an American base. And as it was the best, the coordinates I am providing are for it: N 49° 56.963 E 007° 17.317

Be aware that it might be tricky to find the right access. Most of the area is fenced and eventually guarded. Ironically I almost ran intro troubles when I was exiting as I passed in front of a trailer with two civilian guards who got nervous, seeing me leaving the area from where I was not suppose to come from. Fortunately  they couldn’t speak English so I played the dumb tourist role and kept walking as they yelled at me.




Hotel Golfinho, Lagos, Portugal

Posted: February 17, 2012 in Portugal

This place used to be a flamboyant hotel. I can tell! I spend part of my Summer vacations in the nearby camping site and it was hard to have e  good night sleep: all night long there was people coming in and out of the hotel, in a constant, non-stop party. That was 30 years ago.

I don’t know when the hotel was shut down, but just a couple years ago I remember seeing some promotion there. Really cheap stuff. One could tell they were having bad times. Then I guess the current economic situation finally killed the “Golfinho”.

A few weeks ago I spent a day wandering around in Lagos and that’s when I found out about the current situation of this hotel. By then I saw and entering spot but I was tired, running out of time to catch the returning train and I was not in the mood for Urbex after a day hiking on the cliffs and on the marvelous beaches of this region.

This week I had to return to this area, in a business trip, and between meetings I found myself nearby. Again, I was short on time (actually I arrived 40 minutes later to the afternoon meeting on account of this little adventure).  But now I was really in the mood! I couldn’t let go the change to explore this structure.

There was a motorbike parked near the gate and I new from that moment I would have some company. I was only hoping I could stay away of the other fellow, which I thought would be easy considering the size of the building. But it wasn’t. I saw his reflection, walking on the first floor, when I was taking pictures of the reception. That was the only sight I had of him but made me more cautious. I will never know if the man was an introduder, like me, looking for some booty, or if he was a security dude. When I finally left the motorbike wasn’t there so perhaps he left because he felt my presence or… just left…. or… it wasn’t his bike.

Anyway, because of him I couldn’t use the main stairs. So I took the emergency stairs, going up from the flank of the building. I guess most of the floors look pretty much the same. At least that’s the impression I got from the outside. So I entered the 3rd floor (if the fellow was still on the 1st floor he wouldn’t hear my steps there).

After exploring the floor I went down and found the coolest feature: the club! I entered the DJ boot and enjoyed the huge window glass which would allow people in the club to look at the others who were swimming in the pool. I mean, an underwater window.

The building is for sale. It actually has a huge board announcing its availability. So we never know when the someone will make it harder to visit. But considering the economic situation I guess it will take some time. A bit of agility is necessary to enter the premises.

Entering Spot