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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Berlin

During my life I have always been inspired by the people I meet, the places I travel, the music I listen to, the books I read, just like you all. I have found that whenever I feel stuck, a trip either physically or virtually helps me to move to another place. This morning it was a beautiful dance routine showing two women imprisoned by their white picket fences, once again reminding me why I chose this life of freedom. Last weekend it was a trip to Berlin that moved me.
The whole trip came about rather randomly. A friend and former neighbor was spending some time in Berlin and offered to show me around.  In the meantme a new friend mentioned that he has an apartment in Berlin and goes often if I would like to go. I booked my trip, contacted my KC friend - and discovered he would be leaving Berlin 2 days before I would arrive.
What to do? Cancel or go anyway?
I went.
I am glad.
From the first evening I knew Berlin would be something unexpected. My new friend gave me a quick tour, traditional German wiener schnitzel for dinner, and lighted off to a fun filled evening with some other folks. I was feeling a little lost, but still welcomed the chance to spend some time hanging in a cafe on a cool street in a new place.
Saturday morning I gave my self a tour of the East End gallery, the powerful murals painted in 1990 on the remainder of the Berlin Wall. Then went with new local friend Alex to a big bio market, which has apprently become very gentrified over the years (can you say granolas?). Believe it or not lunch was hot soup on a very hot day, but delicious.
I headed off by myself to see the Holocaust memorial. Now I know this is supposed to be about oppression, confusion, etc., but I could not get to that space. Everywhere I looked I saw clear straight lines, paths leading to the blue sky and sun. I can't explain it, but it was the case.
Next I saw a rather lonely looking spot with a plaque memorializing homosexuals who were arrested (50,000) and starved or otherwise killed (15,000) by the Nazis. This is where my trip became more interesting. Imagine this for a memorial. A free standing small wooden structure, looking like a ticket booth at a circus, with a window. It is necessary to step directly up to the window to see a video projection of men kising, caressing each other, etc. I am not sure what the creators were shooting for, but to me it felt more like a peep show than something respectful. Might just be me but I am calling it "a swing and a miss".
Brandenburg gate was Brandenburg gate. I had already decided to give Checkpoint Charlie a pass, when my phone rang, with an invitation from my friend Alison's brother Ian to join him for a visit. I met him with his friend Sina and really enjoyed them both. We started with a beer at an Irish pub(!), then went to a cool restaurant along the river for dinner. Fod was average but the company was great. Tried to get into a nightclub across the river, but the line was long, and as they say it was already late enough. Opted for a cute little bar instead, which looked as though it was or still is someone's house. We walked across the river to my hotel, and finally called it a night at 3:30.
Sunday was a visit to Kunsthaus Tacheles, a 9,000 square foot building formerly a department store, prison, nightclub and now artist workspace and exhibit hall, it blew my mind. Completely coverd inside and out with graffitti and art. Cool art for sale. Defies description.



I was sad to leave Berlin and my new friends. I feel different. Better. Lighter. Hopeful.

3 comments:

  1. Travel changes a person. It's lovely to read about how you are different after your trip to Berlin. Nice blog! Keep it coming.

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  2. See what you mean about the weather when you went to the memorial. I saw this on a cold winters day in February and it was a little more oppressive down there.
    A remarkable memorial none the less.

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  3. Nice work Melanie. I love the photo and your last line.

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