Friday, September 24, 2010

random thoughts on berlin

107

It's been almost two months already since summer holidays ended, I know. About time to put some random thoughts to blog with my Berlin impressions. For odd and unknown reasons some incredible 10 years since I was there last and quite a lot had changed, that was my very first impression (and from what my German friend told be quite a lot have not...).

Now let the randomness begin;

:: yes, I do think Berlin is a fantastic, awe inspiring, strange, impressive, gorgeous, ugly, quirky, dynamic, creative city. But it's also, like any other huge city, a constant reminder of what a devastating impact the human race has on this planet. The concrete, the traffic, the dirt, pollutants, the massive amount of people, as much as I love it as a holiday destination I can't see myself living in such a city. Because it also breaks my heart, that environmental impact. The amount of concrete. The littleness every life has in such a vast, overwhelming place...

:: Everywhere these huge, anonymous, grey building blocks with broken windows and graffiti, I so wish they could be demolished and some green areas could take their place. Somehow I get the feeling that it's tragically more expensive to demolish old buildings than just leave them there to dilapidated. Constant reminders of what once was...

:: At the same time there's still such a constant building buzz and craze in Berlin. I can't help but feel that this is just such a waste of money, land, resources, the idea of people and companies work together instead of competing in an seemingly endless game of building-the-highest-most-impressive-building-wins is so very appealing...

:: Despite all this building buzz the unemployment statistics in Berlin is apparently frighteningly high and the city is indebted. A city very much a part of the German "Generation Praktikum" - which I know oh too much about in Sweden. The feeling of being used and abused by the system, companies and employers despite being highly qualified and eager to find a decent job with a decent pay apparently knows no borders. I'm not sure if one should regard that as comforting or just utterly depressing... - which makes me sad.

:: As fantastic, and horrific, a city of this size it also makes it quite impossible to completely know every little nook and cranny of your hometown, no matter how long you've been living there. The different parts of the city are just so completely self-sufficient, some so lovable and fascinating, others quite the unfortunate opposite.

Sure Sweden, Stockholm has its very different parts and suburbs, towns and villages, from the über-posh to the ghetto-ish, still I feel there's some sort of line running through it all here that I personally don't find in Berlin. The overwhelming city of Berlin. My jury of one is still out on whether it's an all bad or possibly a somewhat 'good' thing, the contrasts, the enclaves of worlds so apart...

:: I had some old favourites and new tips on vegetarian restaurants with me and in this yet another city of many meat eaters I found the VegOut iPhone app really useful - powered by happycow so you can use it with or without an iPhone - and there are loads of more vegetarian/vegan places I'd love to check out there...

:: I will never again complain about the scruffiness (compared to Athens for example) that's (in parts) the Stockholm subway system, because I found the Berlin u-bahn to be horrid, sure it may be hot in the subway and buses during heatwaves in Stockholm, but not in the "I need air, please help!" way as it was in Berlin trains. The lack of fresh air which had been replaced by something dusty, mouldy underground which made me cough and feeling, I would imagine, slightly astmathic. If that wasn't enough to stay out of there it also took for ever and ever to get anywhere, for me the public transportation should be quick and convenient, not involve a silly amount of changes to get from A to B. I would imagine buses and those nice looking S-bahns were THE way to public transport yourself around the city.

:: I was surprised and delighted about the amount of bikers in Berlin. Thumbs up! And I somehow felt that those bikers did obey traffic rules and were much more considerate towards pedestrians compared to Stockholm and Copenhagen for example.

:: I very much enjoyed the fact that at Starbuck's - whose coffee I'm no real fan of, but the very teaish ice-tea was quite refreshing on those hot summer days walking the selected streets of Berlin - there was free wi-fi, more of that in Stockholm (since McD really isn't my kind of thing), please.

:: I'm pretty sure you could go completely bankrupt with all the fantastic shopping and thrifting, for all wallets, there is in Berlin. A-mazing. I put my money on shoes, all
El Naturalista (apart from the heart slippers), I still can't really fathom how fortunate I was with this shoe-bit of the vacation... German shoe-sales totally play in another competitive league. Berlin summer of 2010 will also be remembered as the Summer of Shoes.

:: The architecture overall - although I do very much prefer the romantic, old embellished architectural style whatever it may be called before modern glass, steel and concrete - is completely swoonworthy. And with that the good and bad of German and Berlin's history, so much to see and experience, there will never be enough time...

:: A city full of affordable hotels, and cheap, tasty food, I'd imagine one could definitely go there on a tight budget and have a great time just exploring and enjoying the ambiance.

End of random thoughts. Although I think there may be some more random photos appearing here in blog, to light up those dark, autumn days to come thinking about those hot summer days that was in a city of both grandeur and decay.

4 comments:

julochka said...

interesting...having spent only a weekend there and it being my first time, i fell madly in love. like i haven't fallen in love with a city since cape town. maybe now i can't go back in case the magic wears off!

but it is a paradise for unique, independent shops, great, affordable food and flirting events in the grocery stores. :-)

Pia K said...

ten years ago i fell madly in love with berlin. i've nurtured that love ever since. now i felt i got a more diverse impression, for better and for worse. in parts magic yes, in other parts so not at all. having a car and being able to drive around exploring does help to get a more complete impression of berlin i believe - although it will never ever be as it still pretty much is a quite divided city when you get to the outskirts. and the vastness and the must-sees are... exhausting. very very much a place well worth visit, on that anyone can agree i think...:)

P.K said...

Interesting thoughts. I too fell in love with Berlin. I was haunted by the grim history, the decay. I was not impressed with the new. That said, I loved the independent shops, the cafes, the food. The art galleries were numerous, the museums were impressive. It is a city of contrasts. I liked the scale of the older buildings and yes the scruffiness of the subways. I did not expect to fall in love, but I did. I am still out of love with my city, so my heart yearns for Berlin. As for the environmental issues, all cities sin.

Amanda said...

Great advice, it was a nice post to read. I'm a vegetarian, and I'm considering higher education in Germany, and food is one of the issues. But Berlin still seems like such a great city to be in! :)

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