Monday, April 07, 2008

Then and Now

Where is the Berlin that I remembered from 40 years ago? It was a vibrant city with beer steins overflowing that never slept.

(Speaking of not sleeping, it's the middle of the night as I sit on the toilet lid putting my thoughts in my little notebook with my jet-lagged eyes wide open in utter confusion.)

But back to Berlin. The city I see today is purely a melting pot. There seem to be more tourists and tourist buses than even we see in Washington. It's difficult to find a restaurant advertising purely local cuisine, whatever that might be.

But what really strikes me is the graffiti everywhere. There are even stores selling cans of spray paint for that purpose.

And along with the graffiti comes a feeling of uncleanliness. There's litter and wet places (with what?) in the subway system and no sign of anyone cleaning anything up. I had recalled little German women scrubbing their sidewalks. Where are they today?

I don't sense a big feeling of anti-Americanism, but few people seem to go out of their way to help us when we appear to be lost or have multiple suitcases in tow.

I keep trying to compare Berlin to the other big cities I've visited. One thing that seems sorely lacking is green space. Where are the parks? I see huge modern concrete structures, but very few trees. It could be I'm just missing the trees that haven't yet realized it's Spring.

This is undoubtedly not the best time of the year to experience Berlin and I'm probably just not in the right neighborhoods to find the things that seem to be lacking.

We'll see what the next two days bring, and then we're off to Hamburg.


Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

Speaking of Berlin being a melting pot, Mr. R's brother and his family live in Berlin. I'm sure they add to the brilliant stew of the city. I'm so glad that you have found a way to post while away!

11:43 AM  
Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

although I'm not surprised to hear about how berlin has become a huge melting pot of cultures (evidence the curry wurst!) - I am very surprised to hear about how there's graffiti (and litter) everywhere! for some reason it seems antithetical to a german aesthetic.

hope you find some green islands in berlin soon! the contrast to your home bioregion right now is dramatic! have fun wrapping up your time in berlin and then its off to hamburg for your next set of adventures!

3:55 PM  

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