As I head out on the S7 towards Wannsee, there are thin traces of snow on the ground. It seems like my quest for snow has been fulfilled, even if it's not in the city centre.
Wannsee itself is quiet. In the summer, it's a popular destination for both tourists and Berliners, but now, everything's boarded up for the winter. A mist rolls in across the water and a few last flakes of snow fall from the sky.
Nice though Wannsee is though, it's not what I've come here for. As you might have already guessed, there's something far more obscure lurking not too far away.
I wander off along the Potsdamer Chaussee, then turn off and follow this tree-lined path:
Further down the path, around the corner, straddling the busy Autobahn is...
A dilapidated service station? Not quite. You'd be forgiven for thinking that, because of the lack of coach parties of happy-snapping tourists, this can't be anything as important as Checkpoint Charlie, which attracts them in droves. The sign over the door might make you realise that's not quite the case, though:
This is Checkpoint Bravo which, unlike Checkpoint Charlie, is still in its original position, virtually unchanged since it was built between 1968 and 1972, to designs by Rainer Rümmler and Hans Joachim Schröder.
This checkpoint was for vehicles passing between West Berlin and Helmstedt, site of Checkpoint Alpha. It's now a customs office.
The round rest stop building is up for sale:
I should say that the picture of Erich Honecker is removable, in case that's all that's putting you off buying it. He's saying "Ohne mich... ...hätte es auch dieses Gebäude nicht gegeben" (without me... even this building wouldn't have existed). Funny how things have reached a stage where advertisers are putting Erich Honecker's face on something to make it more attractive to buyers...
Underneath, it says "Historischer Standort sucht geniale Idee!" (historic location seeks ingenious idea)...I should say so too, it's hard to imagine many businesses wanting a location like it, other than those wanting to cater to drivers on the Autobahn.
As an added bonus, I've read that the small strip of land in the middle of the Autobahn, on which this bear stands, is also included.
He's quite a well known little bear, welcoming travelers to Berlin. He was cast in bronze by Renée Sintenis in 1956. A small version of him is given to prize winners at the Berlinale film festival every year.
Behind him in the picture is one of two former petrol stations (one on each side of the road), both fallen into disuse along with the rest stop.
After my brief wander around Checkpoint Bravo, I head back up to the station to get the train to Griebnitzsee, where another chapter of the story awaits...