OK, I know it’s a clichéd shorthand for Berlin, but I’ve chosen the Brandenburg Gate because, before our recent trip, I think my opinion of Berlin was one big cliché. A friend had told me it was “very interesting”, for goodness sake! Isn’t that shorthand for “ugly”?! I guess, if I’m honest, I thought that the West would be the part to see and that the East, while obviously we’d go and visit, would be uniform, dreary and, yes, “interesting”. How wrong I was!
This is my third attempt at this post and I don’t want to bore you with a catalogue of sights to visit, there are guidebooks that can do that far better than I ever could. Pretentious as it sounds, I wanted to record my response to the city. I loved Berlin. Although we were only there for 3 days, I could understand how people come to visit, fall in love with the place and end up moving there. Like Paris, Berlin has architecture on a grand scale, buildings so huge they stop you in your tracks. It has parks and gardens, wide, tree-lined streets and quaint cobbled courtyards that more than give the Marais a run for its money. Unlike Paris, though, Berlin doesn’t intimidate you. I never felt as if Berlin was thumbing its nose at me, something I have felt in Paris. Berlin feels like somewhere you could live, not just visit. Don’t get me wrong, I love Paris in many ways but it’s never made me feel like Berlin did. When I’m in Paris, I feel like I’m on a film set, acting a part, consciously trying to appear “Parisian” and although I enjoy the play-acting, it is lovely just to be yourself.
So, before I completely disappear up my own arse, I’ll just say that, while I don’t see myself running away to Berlin to live (too many comittments here), it’s definitely somewhere I’ll always want to return to, hopefully before too long. If you haven’t been, go. And now here are some more photos: