You sure know how to push my buttons.
… you welcomed me to a beautiful apartment in Kreuzberg. Living in this quietly stylish dwelling in such a vibrant neighborhood (“you are totally in the right neighborhood, Kreuzberg is the place to be,” said Ben, who checked us into the apartment) felt like stepping into someone else’s life for a few days. Someone else much hipper and tidier than I am, for sure!
… you surrounded me with art, art everywhere. My impression was of a city with more memorials to the dead than any other I’ve visited before. The grieving, solitary mother in the Neue Wache, the New Guard House…
… and the 2,711 eerie, towering concrete slabs of the Holocaust Memorial. Walking in this massive work of art sobered and chilled me—it was like finding yourself swallowed up by tombstones; trapped by hard, merciless, endless gray.
Oh, Berlin. Bombed to rubble in World War II, you became a blank canvas from which anyone could create anything. You may not be a Renaissance masterpiece like Florence, or a Belle Epoque objet d’art like Paris, but you are a work of art that is constantly evolving. Your art is more than just about death; it is life reasserting itself everyday, everywhere. Your children create marvels out of mailboxes and street signs.
… you beckoned me into your quiet, graceful courtyards. There, away from the crowds and in the stillness, you showed your hidden face. And it was beautiful.
In the beautifully preserved Riehmer Hofgarten, we saw what you were must have been like before the War.
This courtyard transported us to the Prussian empire at the turn of the 19th century, when these were built for the army elite, or to 1920s Berlin, when gas lamps lit up the night. I could imagine myself coming home to one of these apartments in the lamplight, being hailed in Latin by the tiled welcome mat on my doorstep.
… your buildings told me the story of your survival. So much has been destroyed that whatever has survived stands out, each with its own piece to add to the bigger story. I wish Manila could be as beautiful as you’ve managed to remain, and make this crazy random mix of old and new work the way you do.
Finally, the clincher: you fed me with currywurst. The way to my heart is through my stomach; though you basically had me at hello, you went this route anyway. I love curry, I love ketchup, and I especially love that this little street treat shares its name with me.
So, Berlin. Our weekend fling is over, but something makes me think our love affair has only just begun.
P.S. Proof of how awesome you are: so many Hive attendees wrote about you (in particular, Birgitte, Anki and Judith had a great eye for you), but there’s barely any overlap. Every post reveals a different facet, and it seems your facets are infinite. I love that in a city.