Berlin (day 21 -25)
Berlin made sense in a way London never quite did.
It was easier to navigate, cheaper and invited curiosity. That sense of wonder I felt in New York re-emerged in Berlin, a city that didn't quite awake up until midday. Even the € felt familiar...
(from previous trips, not imaginary)
I'd heard a lot about Berlin from friends. That it was artistic, full of history, really cool...
and that I'd love it.
Day 21 (Friday)
I like to explore a city on my own terms so tourist attractions get 'ticked off' early.
I personally know someone who passed through Checkpoint Charlie so it was strange to see how tourist-y it'd become... to the point of comical. I'd read about this but seeing it was another thing.
|Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate)|
It's the little details that make a city.
The words below caught my eye within moments of arriving in Berlin. They spoke so much to me, of the city, of who I was, am and wish to be, that I captured it with my last Polaroid shot.
Day 22 (Saturday)
While in Stockholm, I happened to read a Daily Life article presenting Neukölln as 'the coolest suburb in the world'. Naturally, I was intrigued and made a mental note to check its veracity.
I caught the train to Neukölln station but instinct told me I should have gotten off two stops earlier at Rathaus Neukölln. I hopped back on the train and emerged on a section of Karl-Marx-Straße selling Persian rugs, wigs, old mobile phones and elegant Muslim wedding gowns.
Where were the hipsters promised?
I followed Karl-Marx-Straße north towards yet an earlier station, Hermannplatz. Fortunately, I'd googled 'vintage stores in Berlin' a few days earlier so I knew to turn onto Weserstraße. Success.
The whole time I'd been walking parallel to the very stores and cafés I sought. I couldn't help feeling amused. Weserstraße lay just two blocks from Karl-Marx-Straße.
(I later learnt that Neukölln suburb is located within a borough of the same name.)
It was cool though the highlight was dinner in the warm summer air.
Also, I bought the type of sunnies I'd often laughed at on others. Mine are less reflective at least.
While I didn't feel ready to engage with the city's dark past, the Berlin Wall Memorial, stretching 1.4 kilometres along the former border strip, was certainly worth a visit .
Imagine being desperate enough to crawl into a dark, damp tunnel that could collapse on you, burying you alive. Or being pregnant and jumping from your home bordering the wall into a fireman’s net. How desperate would you need to be to risk your life and that of your unborn child? To leap to possible death – death from hitting the pavement or being shot, arrested.
You'd never guess from the blue skies.
Day 24 (Monday)
Spent final day exploring my local neighbourhood (Prenzlauer Berg) and neighbouring Mitte.
There was so much I hadn't seen yet no angst.
I think I'll see Berlin again. She'll wait, regardless.
Spent the morning finalising packing, then went to see the dilapidated East Side Gallery (essentially the most 'celebrated' wall of grafitti you'll come across). I didn't stay long.
Crossed River Spree into Kreuzberg, another area I didn't have time to see, and back.
And with that, my second dalliance with Europe came to a close.
Until next time xo