Part 2: A Pedacito Of Berlin, Germany
Updated: Dec 1, 2021
In light of the fact that October is German-American Heritage Month, I wanted to further discuss my three-month visit to Berlin. When I was a child, my father told me that the original Eddings clan moved to America from Germany, so I have always held a soft spot for the country and its people.
That being said, when I first traveled to Berlin while still in college (April 2000) I was not that impressed. The city felt run down and tired. Only a decade before, the Berlin wall had come down, and it felt like the city didn't really know what it wanted to be, yet.
That has certainly changed in the twenty years since I was last there. Even as Covid is raging, Berlin is a thriving city with tons of personality and a lot to see.
Considering that Germany is a country that has survived the loss of two World Wars, and that the city itself was all but completely leveled by bombs in 1945, I think it is important to share what a triumph it is that Berlin has become the uniquely cosmopolitan city that it is today.
Past And Present
Berlin is a history buff's paradise. Not only are there countless museums dedicated to its long and chaotic past, but the whole city feels like a museum. Every bridge, street, and building holds significance.
The balance of old and new is what makes Berlin so unique. There seems to be real thought behind it. A great example of this juxtaposition can be found at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.
The original Protestant cathedral was bombed during World War 2. Instead of tearing it down, they left the church standing and built a new modern church right beside it. And so now, the landmark serves as a reminder of the devastation of war, but also of people's ability to restart and rebuild.
The citizens of Berlin also reflect a mixture of ultra-modern and traditional. One minute I would walk by some young people sitting in the park drinking beer. The stereotype of Germans drinking beer is true. It's everywhere, and I see them drinking it at all times of the day, though I rarely saw anyone getting drunk.
The next minute, I would see another group of kids, with a big sound system, dancing to techno music in the same park. Berlin is known for its nightlife and the dance parties last all day and night. It wasn't uncommon for me to see people lined up to get into clubs at 7:00 in the morning.
The food choices also reflect a mix of old and new. It's easy enough to find traditional Bavarian food. In fact, I became addicted to this one restaurant that serves a heaping plate of German sausage, sauerkraut, and potatoes. It was amazingly good!
But what surprised me was the huge variety of other cultures' food. Berlin has an unbelievable variety of Vietnamese, Indian, Japanese, Italian, and Russian restaurants. I even tried an American restaurant where I had one of the best burgers I have ever eaten.
What seems apparent is that Berliners really know how to enjoy life. They have figured out how to remember their past, but not to live in it. Berlin is full of friendly people, tasty food, and lovers of art and architecture, both new and old.
If you have a chance, I would highly recommend spending at least a week in the city. I guarantee that you will find it worth the trip!
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