in need of direction

Berlin Travel Blog

 › entry 15 of 75 › view all entries
Berlin is enormous.  They need some further categorization here - northeastern, central, southwestern.  Like Washington universities.  It's also striking how you can feel the difference between eastern and western Berlin.  You know how when you're in an unfamiliar city, even if you don't speak the language, you still have a sense of where you are?  Somehow you just know that you're in a university area, the financial center, the ghetto.  There's no big dotted line seperating the two, but the differences are pretty clear.

It's especially interesting because Tuesday, Oct. 3 is German Reunification Day.  Although according to popular belief, November 9 was the original date chosen to mark the day the wall came down, it was changed because it was also the anniversary of Kristallnacht.  So, on October 3, we celebrate bureaucratic paper-pushing and agreement-signing instead.

The best part about this holiday is that in addition to huge parades and celebrations in Berlin, the government chooses another city each year for special celebrations.  This year, it's in the port town of Kiel.  I have no idea why they do this.  I'm sure there's a reason, but I enjoy the randomness of it.  It's like they're methodically double-checking the unity and happiness of the country, one city at a time.  Or maybe just spreading the joy of reunification one city at a time.  I'm not really sure.  But I think the German guilt complex might not be just a stereotype.  In fact, that's my theory to explain why they follow all the rules and don't cross the streets or litter and follow the honor system on the subway.  It's like they're trying to be role models for the rest of us to make up for the past.  Being at the Jewish Museum today was amazing and the architecture was very well-planned to make you feel disoriented and reflective while cramming tons of information in at the same time.  But it also vaguely reminded me of divorced parents who buy their kids stuffed animals.  Or you know, Kobe buying rocks for his girlfriend to make up for inappropriate behavior.  I wonder if the guilt complex is real and how that's working out for everyone.

On an unrelated note, I met two girls from SF that I've been hanging out with.  It's so awesome to have conversations where you can talk about street names and specific menu items at restaurants you all know.  Almost as awesome as the conversation I had with an journalist from Afghanistan who had covered the war and was now writing about relationships with Germany and the rest of Europe.  No, actually, talking about the ferry building and how great Union Street Papery is was better.
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photo by: CFD