March 10, 2006

berlin walls












Berlin has a coldness and uneasiness to it. Because it was divided for so long, it has no true center. (Of course neither does LA, but what's our excuse?) Occasionally you run into areas where there is a strange gap of land - sometimes filled with park or rail or something and sometimes not. I can only guess that these are areas where the walls and intervening no-man's land was. Its surreal to think that during the time of Chakha Kahn, this was still a divided city. I wandered around Potsdamer Platz, a huge commercial area that died when it was bisected by the wall and now has sprung to life again after reunification (including Sony Center, another work of Renzo Piano's). I walked on to The Brandenburg Gate which was certainly imposing, though there was something disappointing about standing next to Starbuck's and a Dunkin Donuts while in its plaza. Most powerful was the Reichstag and its new glass dome on the top that looks into the chamber of Parliament. It was a truly powerful statement about having a transparent and open government.

Later I trained up to Prenzlauer-Berg, a neighborhood in what would have been East Berlin. I popped into a little cafe and had a great dinner of Russian Stew and Bacon and Potato omelet. (Don't ask me why, but it seemed like it must be something typically German, so I ordered it. Like many things here - including a Kraut Dog I had earlier in the day - it was garnished with small sweet pickles.) I wandered around what I realized were mostly new, but traditional appearing apartment buildings on old cobblestone streets and wondered what life must have been like here thirty years ago.

Perhaps the sense of coldness here just comes from my lack of being able to communicate. While I'd still like to return someday to Berlin, I don't find myself sorry to leave it.

2 comments:

rusty said...

great pics, but do you ever get out during the day?

jon said...

whats the day??