Saturday, February 6, 2010
berlin in january
i adore this city. berlin is one of the few cities i've been to recently where i felt, yah, it would be amazing to live here for a chunk of my life. (too bad i don't speak german!)
after all the claustrophobic rush-rush, push-push of the big smoke, i loved the wide open spaces of berlin, hushed under blankets of snow, colours dulled under grey skies. you get the feeling that people actually live in the centre of the city, so that between "touristic" areas of the embassies and grand buildings are tucked residential areas with schools and grocery stores. (in london, no one really lives in the centre -- we're all kind of spread out in concentric circles radiating out from the middle, so that if a friend lives on the opposite side of the circle to you, it can quite often take over an hour on the tube to visit them -- although it's all still "london").
berlin is an incredibly artistic city, blessed with many art galleries and museums, five of the big ones located on "museum island" and housing some of the best collections in europe; three opera houses and countless more theatres and music halls; and home to the famous berlin symphony (we were lucky enough to catch a performance). on the subway you so often see people carrying instrument cases, and the german friends we met were all in separate quartets, quintets or symphonies of their own.
recent and ancient history have given the city an eclectic mix of architecture, all amazing in very different ways. one of my favourite days was spent walking along karl marx allee in old east berlin, home to sprawling socialist-era apartment buildings and wide boulevards. at one end sits the east side gallery, a preserved part of the berlin wall now showing murals painted by artists from around the world.
the people were very... well, german! delightfully dead-pan sense of humour, exquisitely precise use of the english language (so precise i felt a bit bashful about my own linguistic inadequacies), a love of beautiful buildings / art / music, warm with a genuine curiosity about where you are from and a willingness (often eagerness) to help. everything runs on time. everything works. the subway runs 24 hours on the weekends, to accommodate all the serious late-night partying. the escalators only start to go when someone is standing on it, to save energy. everything feels well thought-out, well-planned.
maybe i should start taking german classes...!
more pics here
Posted by bianca at 7:47 AM