26 September 2010

Painting the town

A couple years ago a friend advised me that Berlin is not a city to see in a couple days, but more like a week or two. With this suggestion I reserved 7 full days to tour this evolving city. From what I had read about it in travel books and online you can not pin this city down. It is one that you can visit in the year 2000 and then again in 2010, 2020, etc and it will be like a new place each time. Twenty years ago everything that I am about to say about this magnificent city would be unimaginable. The fall of the Berlin Wall has changed everything, not only in Berlin but in Germany and Europe.

The monuments and memorials in Berlin are innumerable. Reminders of the past are everywhere to emphasize the horrors and insure they will not be repeated. Brandenburg Gate. East Side Gallery. Topography of Terror. Checkpoint Charlie. Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe. The list goes on.

These things are not to overshadow the new and innovative things that have popped up in Berlin. The renovated Reichstag (Parliamentary Building) is something to brag about. 
Don't even get me started on the food. I've fallen in love with the gooey worm-like potato pasta Germans call spätzle. Try this with the traditional Berlin currywurst and you'll be in a food coma halfway through the meal. Or if you are eating on the cheap, you can live off the €3 döner kebap which originated in Berlin. Whatever your preference, you will not go hungry in Berlin. 

...or thirsty. Try a Berliner Pils or any of the other German beers on tap and you'll be satisfied. Jon and I became somewhat regulars at the Prater Biergarten where we drank Prater Pils or Radlers (sprite and Pils) with a side of bockwurst and bretzels.

Germans, especially the new generation, has embraced the idea of recycle and reuse-- antiques, that is. Flea markets and antique stores are easy to come by, as are hipsters wearing 50s fashion. Tokens of German life before and during the Soviet era can be an inexpensive and unique souvenir from Berlin. I fell in love with the atmosphere at the Flohmarkt in Mauer Park. Young Germans were buying and selling everything from antique cameras or clothes, to paintings and bicycles.

The new Berlin was inspiring but I'm intrigued by the past. I spent many days scouring East Berlin for signs of reconstruction and remanence of the past, taking in the things that will be forgotten in 50 years. Old buildings and walls are still scarred by war. A thick coat of graffiti masks the pain. Graffiti, graffiti everywhere!

7 days in Berlin was enough to make me want to come back and see the the new tags or the fresh coat of paint in years to come.

1 comment:

  1. Monica, Although I miss you.... It's so wonderful to have you back on the road again, I love reading your views of the world!
    Luv u , Daddy-O