I have to admit that prior to being proposed the idea of going to Berlin by Paul, it was very low on my list of places to visit in Europe. I think Germany in general had been put aside in my mind because of it`s history with the Holocaust and Hitler. I think I learned about it too early in school and it gives me the willies to the point where I would really be interested in going but fear that I could never be or feel the same after. Anyways, I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to go because I loved Berlin so much, I am now trying to work it into my schedule to live there for a couple of months at some point in the next couple of years. It is a city where artists can be artists and the usual economic and artistic/creative binds do not exist in the same way as other major cities.
Paul and I went to Berlin to visit his friend Matt, who has been living in Berlin for over a year. Not only is Matt a great guy, but he was a superb tour guide - if not the best I have ever had when visiting a city. He knew so much about the history of the city, which for me was a plus, because aside from general grade 10 history I don`t know much detail about what went on in Berlin a little over 20 years ago and beyond. He took us walking around the city, told us stories and showed us tons of little places that only a Berliner would know about, artist hang outs, little hidden spots that have great art or interesting things about them.
On the first day we went the Holocaust Memorial, however we did not do the museum below it. We wanted to see the city, acknowledge it`s history but also stay upbeat - and so we chose to not go to the museum. Next time I am in Berlin, I am going to make a point of going. Regardless, the memorial is enormous and looming and as you walk through the aisles of concrete blocks that get taller and taller, they overwhelm you, shadowing and towering above your head until you become the smallest thing in it`s vicinity. Although the artist never wrote a statement explaining it, I think it`s clear what it symbolizes and the way it makes you feel, this gradual taking over, like that of Hitler step by step taking over the Jewish people. A very powerful memorial.
The longest part of the Berlin wall that is still standing has been painted with amazing murals the entire length of it. Many different artists from all over the world participated in the murals and they all are either done in the name of peace or as a memory of the day the wall fell and the people were liberated.
I love this picture because it so simply shows that anything and everything in Berlin was and is part of their history. Throughout the city, on streets lined with fairly new buildings pieces of the old Berlin still sit, as a reminder of how it was and as a way of showing visitors a past life.
I can`t help but think that Berlin is a city that was given to young people to rebuild, or at least that is how it feels. The city is as young as it`s artists and is budding growing with them. From old warehouses springs rockclimbing gyms, skateparks, art galleries, night clubs, bars, and beach like sandpits for the summer. Berlin is a city that encourages sharing and participation in a way that I have never seen or felt when visiting a place.
If you have the chance to go, really go, you will love it. It`s refreshing and really historically interesting and recent, a rarity in most of old Europe.
Have you been to Berlin? Did you love it as much as me???
Thanks for reading!