Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Sunny Berlin

Everything always looks better in sunshine. Berlin is no exception. I can't say the day was rain-free, but the periods of sun were a pleasant change.

We are staying in an apartment on a street that dead-ends into the are that used to be "no man's land" when the Wall was in existence. It's a quiet mix of apartments, small shops, and restaurants.
One of these balconies is ours.

Germans are fanatic about recycling. There is a separate container for everything imaginable behind our apartment building.

Bicycles are a major source of transportation. There are bike lanes on every SIDEWALK, which makes biking much safer. It is rare, however, to see anyone wearing a helmet. We actually saw a couple out on a date tonight on a bicycle. The woman looked like she was sitting in the man's lap as he pedaled.

Today's sites included the Neue (new) Synagogue, a somewhat restored version one of the largest synagogues in Europe. It was bombed during the war, demolished by the East Germans in 1958, and then restored starting in 1988 after the reunification of Germany. Thanks to Kate for mentioning this before we left on our trip.

We met a young German Jewish friend who is clerking to be an international lawyer for lunch at a sushi restaurant. He is an amazing kid who knows German, English, French, and Hebrew fluently.

On his recommendation we spent much of the afternoon in the free museum to those in the Resistance (WWII). This is a fitting tribute to those who were not afraid to speak up or to act on their principles.

A visit to Germany always makes me wonder how the non-Jewish Germans of today feel about the role of their country during the war. Is it a feeling of shame, denial, anger, or allegiance? Within a few years all those who fought in that war will be gone and we will have only their stories and the history books to tell the story.

Just as we get ready to leave Berlin tomorrow for Hamburg, we are feeling much more comfortable with this city. We actually saw big expanses of green today when we got on a subway line by a mistake we didn't realize until we almost at the end of the line. Our dinner in an Arab restaurant tonight was superb. And the sun made even the graffiti-covered walls and the streets look a little brighter, a little cleaner.

This billboard which you see in many subway stations is attempt at making the melting pot work: Friendship is not a question of heritage.


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