Sunday, August 8, 2010

East meets West

My second day in Berlin got off to a rather late start after dancing the previous night. I had decided to explore Potsdam Platz and the surrounds for the day and walk the path of the former Berlin Wall.

I started at Brandenburg Gate, the victory gate on the edge of Tiergarten. It was crowded with tourists all eager to pose with a the fake German soldiers (which you have to pay to do!).

I quickly headed for the parliament in hopes of a quieter space but alas the queue to get into the parliament (the glass dome offers a spectacular view I'm told) that looked a few hours long. With the weather looking fairly ominous I skipped the wait and decided I'd try later (which didn't happen because the rain finally appeared).

Walking through the Tiergarten I found a beautiful monument to Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn done in marble with gold trim. The monument has a rather sad history as it sits very close the the former wall and was neglected after the wall and left to decay. A fair amount of damaged was sustained including bullet holes and lost mouldings. The monument has recently been restored to its former glory (with bullet holes intact as a reminder).

Walking along the path of the wall I came across the Holocaust Memorial featuring thousands of concrete slabs of various heights. I'm not sure what to make of it, all I took away from it was drab grey blocks the same shape. The tour leader I walked past stated that everyone is affected by WW2 but to me it seems so far removed from South Africa.

My afternoon was mainly spent in the Sony Centre with its beautiful glass roof and multitude of restaurants before seeing Dirty Dancing on the Potsdam Platz Theatre. The Sony Centre houses an IMAX cinema and Lego Discovery Centre (which I nearly gave in to the temptation to spend the afternoon playing in).

I have to say in retrospect that I cannot think of a single world or phrase that encompasses all of Berlin, it is a juxtaposition of old and new, polished and rough but it is all welcoming. I loved Berlin and would happily return again and again. Its a wonderful city that made me feel more welcome in 2 days than the 2 months I've spent in Vienna.

1 comment:

alapan said...

I agree - Berlin is my favourite city in Europe (although, in fairness to other cities in Europe, I have spent a lot of time in Berlin). It has something that most other cities just don't have.