BerlinPosted: May 17, 2011
In Berlin, you cannot NOT mention “the war!” The consequences of the winners and their allies divvying up the spoils are alive for all to see. Deconstruction, reconstruction and just plain construction still dominates every area. Buildings old and new are grandiose, and built on a scale larger than I have noticed in any other city. A sense of grandeur, power and importance is offset with the parks, rivers and gardens, approximately one third of Berlin is green or aqua! World class buskers add color to Berlins background, graffiti-ed, edgy and invigorating.
It’s a bustling, cosmopolitan, up tempo town. As if its controversial, gritty, political history, particularly as the home of the 3rd Reich and the Berlin wall, has not given it a need to reflect, but has urged it forward, purposefully. Berlin was bombed almost to smithereens in the 2WW. It was groups of women who cleared and cleaned the rubble and put it aside for reuse. Here and now, the past is not denied or shyed away from. It’s embraced and included in what is still a work in progress.
I have a day to myself to explore Berlin and sort out the “wheat from the hay”, to make an easier day of sightseeing for Antonio and I. Antonio has taken a flight to Venice to at last secure his Italian Identity Card. It’s worked. We now just wait for time to apply for a passport and become a bonified Dual Citizen!
We are camped just a 7 km riverside bicycle ride from the center of Berlin and it is perfect cycling weather. The first thing we do is find the markers of the wall. It is all stepped out in double brick lines, disappearing only where new buildings are not on top.
Our next destination, the Teir Garten, the lungs of the city, passing other cyclists going about their day in full business attire. The Teir Garten is huge, almost feeling like a wilderness in parts. When I first visited Berlin I promised myself I would return one day and ride a bicycle here! Tick!
After a super coffee in a CafeHaus, we went via Check Point Charlie to a new outdoor exhibition museum that was fascinating. A thorough depiction of history through photographs and poster boards, from 1933 – 1945, encompassing personal stories of people, not only Jewish, but also homosexual, ill, even epileptics, murdered in search of the “perfect Aryan” race.
A wide sweep of streets, (could have been Brunswick St, Fitzroy) we were back on the River Spree and heading back to camp. I have once again loved my time in Berlin. Tomorrow we move on – to Poland!