Berlin! The throbbing, gritty, and enduring capital of Germany; a city where flamboyant artists paint the historical landmarks with gusto and ancient structures perch beside modern architecture. It would be so easy to let my recounting of Berlin turn into something like an informative travel article, as the city’s history is rich and its sights are many. But I don’t want to write a travel article for you. I want to tell you how my toes felt damp, wrapped in fur, padding over cobblestones from sunrise to long after sunset, how the smells of the currywurst carts and the falling snow and the bakeries mixed together so nicely you wanted to photograph that scent and carry it home with you. I want to tell you how chocolates from the finest shop in Berlin felt melting over my tongue, and how lovely it was to see countless parents pulling children through the city on miniature sleighs. Berlin is the hedonistic city of the senses, posh and punk, full of fun.
I’ll tell you some of my favorite things and places in Berlin:
- The East Side Gallary. A piece of the Berlin wall that stretches for over a mile and is full of thought-provoking and colorful artwork. This was possibly my favorite.
- Checkpoint Charlie. This was fun and full of tourists, but the best part was the nearby above-mentioned chocolate shop. I bought a champagne-cream filled dark chocolate and almost died.
- The university where Einstein used to teach.
- The football-stadium sized Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe, which includes 3,000 gravestone-like pillars that form a dreary labyrinth.
- The hotel Aldon, where Michael Jackson dangled his infant over the center third-story balcony. Also where such icons as Charlie Chaplin and Albert Einstein have stayed.
- Ampelmann: the Eastern Berlin pedestrian sign. Trendy and functional, this cross-walk symbol has made its way to everything from clothing to cookie cutters and still manages to tell you not only when to cross the street, but also which side of Berlin you are currently exploring.
- Unter den linden: Berlin’s boulevard of historic beauties, cozy bookshops, and shopping galore.
Casey and I traversed this city diligently, in falling snow and
sunshine more falling snow, rumbling through the underground and towering
on double-decker buses, riding in taxis and trains and more trains and taxis, our
journey punctuated only by warm pastries and schnitzel. We did not see every
corner of Berlin but we did see many corners of it, and returned just in time
to catch the shuttle to our Monday-morning classrooms.