Speechless about Berlin

Berlin is my favourite city; it leaves me speechless.

Unusual though this state is for me, it also makes it hard for me to blog about it. I could (and will) gush about all the wonderful things you can do in Berlin, about how it's a-okay to go out at 2am and not get home until people are heading to work the following day. None of that explains this city.

On my first visit, our friend, a German who had called the city home for more than 10 years told us it was 4 times the size of Paris. That fact stuck with me, as another friend and I wandered around looking up and constantly marvelling at the different things we found around each corner, about the diversity of a city that has grown out of it's complexities.

This time, I walked with different friends down a different street where cobblestones followed us through the middle of the road, houses either side. Those cobblestones mark where The Wall once stood. Our friend, Kathy who is a year younger than me, told us that her aunt has a picture of her in a pram with her parents in front of the The Wall the summer before it fell. To this day her aunt is amazed that she can cross from the West to East and back with total ease, no border checks. She remembers every time her cars bumps across those cobblestones. Every time she drives down certain roads.

#berlin #mauer by @cozmikfaerie

Kathy said, on many occasions, that Berlin is Berlin now, and she doesn't like how people still refer to either side of the city. Though it is something everyone does, even (and perhaps especially) native Berliners. Whilst the wounds are slowly closing, the scars of the past are visible for everyone to see. From the cobblestones marking the city's divide, to Checkpoint Charlie, the East Side Gallery, the Ampelmann traffic signals in the East and mostly obviously the two airports serving the city, Schoenefeld in the East and Tegel in the West.

Joyce and I continually commented on how strange it is that we can walk around the city, free, anywhere we liked. Passing Checkpoint Charlie became the norm. We passed by on our way to our evening trip to the Reichstag, on an afternoon coffee run, on our way to other tourist sites. We could just pass by, it's okay to do that, yet it's still an unexpected freedom to some people who lived there through the 60's, 70's and 80's. It is so easy for us to forget that this is so recent that people only a few years older than us remember it, and for Kathy, her parents and the rest of her family lived through it. How do you continue to live somewhere tourists have come to gawk at your former life? A past that is not so long ago, in a city that is still changing and diversifying after everything that has happened there.

Since my last visit almost four years ago, the Berlin Wall Memorial has become an open air exhibit, with the new Chapel of Reconciliation. Of course, the reunification has happened, in fact it is still happening. It's not all about the Brandenburg Tor and the Reichstag. It's the completion of the Berlin Wall Memorial, it's the dream of one airport serving one city- eventually Brandenburg Berlin airport will open! There is still an East/ West divide, and perhaps it's a pain that runs too deep and there always will be. It's only then that you realise it's not history, Berlin's story is still being told, the past is behind them but it's not far enough to call it history.

Whilst the wounds are healing, the scars of the past are still there, for everyone to see.

Have you visited Berlin? How do you feel about it's story? 
Perhaps you visited whilst The Wall was still up, tell me your experiences in the comments.

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  1. I've not visited, but I really want to. Germany is my favorite country in Europe!

    1. Have you been anywhere else in Germany? I do love Germany, I've also been to Munich and Stuttgart.


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