A Journey to Berlin - Part 1
There were many places I wanted to visit. One of them was definitely Berlin. In my imagination, Berlin has the sound of “Heroes” with the voice of David Bowie. It has electronic vibes, hidden glances and a lot of untold stories. It is also a 80ies dream of rebellion, the CCCP Italian Band screaming for a world change in the famous Album “Fedeli alla Linea” ( trad. litt. “sticking to the party line”).
A sad face, yet majestic and proud. Brave, with an impressive endurance.
I needed a break, this city offered it to me, and gave me such important wisdom pearls I came back as a different human being.
Where to sleep? The Hotel we booked was the Mandala, located in a very good spot: Potsdamer Platz. In the past it was one of the busiest spots in Europe. Later on, the Berlin Wall parted it and transformed it into a desert. Today, the Potsdamer Platz is the modern and contemporary center of the capital. You will find an impressive architecture, and the location is very close to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) and it is a very good spot to start all your visits.
The Mandala has these very lovely apartment rooms, bright and quiet. You have a kitchen space, a comfortable bedroom.
We had less than three days and a Huge city, full of history, to visit. We decided to walk ( Parisians walks a lot!) instead of taking the underground. We thought that if needed we would have booked a last minute bike, and since it didn’t rain, we found out to be a very good idea.
I was personally very very curious to see what was left of the wall. I wanted to feel Berlin, and see it with the eyes of a Berliner. So we avoided the main touristic spots at the beginning, and we walked all the city up the East Side Gallery. It consists of a series of murals painted directly on a 1, 3km on the Berlin Wall, located near the center of Berlin, on Mühlenstraße in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. We did not realize at the first place how big Berlin is! But we enjoyed the walk and saw the “invisible lines” of what where the different sectors in the past. The contrast between the Russian side and the European Side was quite impressive, and something you should not miss walking or riding a bike through the city.
It is a shock for a Roman girl (maybe less for a Parisian) to see how fast construction goes in this city and how wide they are. Entire quarters are lifted up from nowhere!
What was impressive in Berlin, compared to my cities, Rome and Paris, was the fact that the city looks all flat. We discovered then that the hills you may find, such as Teufelsberg, are all artificial ones :
at the end of the Second World War, Berlin was severely destroyed. The Trümmerfrauen, rare women survivors of bombings, tried to rebuild as much as they could. During the reconstruction of Berlin, they had to face a huge logistical problem: what to do with rubble? The solution was to move the rubble outside the city. Can you imagine how harsh and crazy is was to move the bombing rubble with your mere hands? ! Doing so, they obtained a double food ration… The hills you see around the city have been made by these Trümmerfrauen. I think it is very important to know the history, because when you look at them, it all take a different meaning, doesn’t it?
We crossed the Spree finally and discovered a whole different face of Berlin, more similar to a country town with small bricks houses, Wrangelkiez.
Part 2 will follow on the next post!