Upon arriving in Berlin it’s clear that we’re no longer in Eastern Europe. Despite the fact that Berlin is practically due north of Prague and thus not any further west, and despite the additional fact that a large part of Berlin and all of its surrounding area was formerly Eastern Germany, it’s still clear to me that we’re now in the West.
That’s not to say that Berlin isn’t an interesting and unique place, which it is. Pieces of the former wall decorate the city center, which seems to complement, rather than contrast with shiny modern buildings that have sprung up since 1989.
This is also the first city that I’ve been to, in which I really feel that its history has played a part in my own. The fall of the Berlin wall and the subsequent fall of the Soviet Union were probably the first major global events that I remember living through. It’s somehow both eerie and satisfying to be in such a place.
Since Alicia and I have been in Berlin we’ve been doing some fun things besides visiting museums and Berlin wall monuments. We arrived around midnight on Friday after a gorgeous train ride along the Elbe from Prague to Germany; who knew Bohemia - the western part of the Czech Republic – and the Dresden area of Germany were so beautiful!? We went to the opera – Beethoven’s Fidelio - the next night for a taste of Berlin high culture...
...and last night we watched the European championship football (=soccer) game for some non-high culture. Germany played Spain in the final game and, unfortunately, Germany lost 0-1, but it was still interesting to see the fans and the city during such a big game. (Like the World Cup, the European Championship is played only every four years.)
Our Berlin luck ran out when we tried to go out to a club after the game, which turned out to be closed, but because it was so hidden kept us wandering and guessing before we were fully cognizant of the fact that it was, in fact, closed. Today I’m recovering from a night of beer-drinking, football-watching, and club-wandering adventures.
But we’ve really had more good luck than bad. We are lucky enough to not have to stay in a hostel since a friend from Berkeley (Alvin’s boyfriend Ryan) is studying here in Berlin at the Goethe Institute, and so we’ve had a nice, centrally located apartment to crash in. This is especially helpful, since the dollar is currently VERY weak against the Euro.
Also, I’m not ignoring Prague, but rather feel that I can’t do it blog justice yet. But don’t worry, I’m returning there and will try to render it to you in all its glory soon! For now, here’s some pics of Berlin.