The city of Berlin is a dichotomy. It’s not particularly pretty, but I venture to say there are few cities more interesting than Berlin. It is filled with art galleries, museums, and is a magnet for creative types. Unlike Germans in the rest of the country, who tend to be more reserved, Berliners are famous for their ribald sense of humor. Of course, during the years when the Berlin Wall divided the city, East and West Berlin were a study in contrasts. The wall may be gone, but with each visit the dichotomy of Berlin reveals itself to me in myriad ways.
During my visit this summer, I was examining the artwork painted on a preserved section of the Berlin Wall known as the East Side Gallery. It was a hot day, so I wandered over to the banks of the River Spree and sat for a while. The centerpiece of the scene was the 19th century, red brick Oberbaum Bridge, complete with Medieval-style turrets. In stark contrast, construction cranes dangled across the skyline, supporting modern glass and steel high-rises in various stages of completion. A river boat converted to a floating hostel rocked at the shore, while a modern blimp floated above the bridge. I had to smile. It was a scene I couldn’t imagine seeing anywhere but Berlin.
Author’s note: Many thanks to Visit Berlin, which gifted me with a Berlin Welcome Card during my stay. Not only did it provide discounts for dozens of the city’s best attractions, it also provided five days of unlimited free rides on the public transportation system.