What is marriage, if not a leap of faith?
Fourteen years ago, on or around our second date, Audrey and I went skydiving together. It was, as you might imagine, both terrifying and fantastic. And as much as you also might also imagine that it wiped away my fear of heights, it did not. Perhaps it chiseled away at that wall, but it certainly didn’t tear it down. I still swoon thinking about that airplane canopy above 16,000 feet. I still get wobbly above 10 stories.
So here we are 14 years later in Berlin, celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary. What better way to recognize the occasion than to jump (base fly) from the top of a 37-story building?
Berlin Base Flying: The Experience
As often happens in life, it’s one thing to talk about doing something and quite another to actually do it. The same goes for launching oneself from a tall building in Berlin.
The following video tells that story. If after the video you stick around to read the rest of this piece, we’ll explain what base flying is. And we'll offer a little marriage advice.
Video: Base Flying in Berlin: Celebrating 11 Years of Marriage
Special thanks to Sarah Everts for her camera work and support.
The Base Flying Process, Start to Finish
We arrived at the lobby of the Park Inn and were given one of those “this is totally safe, but there’s an outside chance you might end up like a pancake” waivers to sign. Here are my favorite segments:
Precondition is a good physical and intellectual constitution as the execution of this event can entail a considerable physical and mental exposure
Not to be outdone, it follows:
The organizer assumes no liability for soiling or damaging clothing worn during the fall.
Rough translation: If you poop your pants, it’s on you.
I had reservations on both accounts, but I signed anyhow.
As for the mechanics of the base flying process, it’s pretty quick. (And I’m pleased to report, painless):
1) Go to the roof of the building (take an elevator, then walk up the stairs from floor 37). The view from atop the Park Inn Berlin is spectacular, especially if the weather is as immaculate as it was on the day of our jump.
2) Get outfitted in a harness and hooked to an industrial strength wire contraption that is attached to the side and roof of the building.
3) You try out your harness rig in a superman pose above stable ground with one of the crew.
4) The crew walks you out to the edge of the jumping platform where you are raised on the hook and out over open ground. This is profoundly terrifying. You pretend like you are thrilled and look at the camera. Remember to smile.
5) Then you drop, free-falling for about 5 seconds (but time almost stands still). Wild. As you reach the end, the wire suspension device executes a controlled deceleration so you experience absolutely no sudden jerking motion as you might with bungee jumping.
And Finally, A Little Marriage Advice
When people ask us for marriage advice, I often feel like a kid, not the sort of person you go to for marriage counsel.
Friends who had been married only a few years recently asked, “So what advice can you give after 11 years?”
I replied: “You’re married, right? Then it’s too late”
But quite seriously, here’s my 11-year-thoughts-on-marriage offer: Marriage is a lot of work, much in the way a garden might be. You reap the rewards that you sow.
Now go forth and jump off a building.
How to Go Base Flying in Berlin
Location: Park Inn at Alexanderplatz, Berlin. Jochen Schweizer is the company that operates the base flying. Look for their desk near the concierge.
Operating hours: Usually open only on weekends, weather permitting. Call ahead to be sure it’s open.
Costs: Although base flying may not be the cheapest activity going in Berlin, the price strikes us as pretty fair considering how unique this experience is and the safety and sophistication of the equipment. Try to go early in the morning for the best deals.
- Basic Base-Flying: €79
- 2nd person: €39
- Early Bird (10-11 AM): €49
- Happy Hour (18-19 AM): €59
We asked how many people chicken out once they are on the roof. The crew's response: “It’s actually very few people – only about 2-3%. And it’s usually the guys with the big mouths talking it up the most.”
Thanks and Disclosure:
First off, a big thanks to the Jochen Schweizer crew on top of the Park Inn. Cedrik, Tilman and the rest of the folks were safety conscious, supportive and very funny (check out Tilman in the video) — exactly the type of people you want around you when you’re about to jump off a building.
Our base flying experience was provided to us by Jochen Schweizer, an experience company whose offers include high adrenaline and adventure activities around the world.
As always, these words, experiences and opinions are entirely our own.