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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Best of the season to you!

Christmas Market in Gendarmen Platz (from above)

Checkpoint Charlie (for background, read John LeCarre)

The war memorial Neue Wache houses the beautiful and moving sculpture Mother and her dead son, by the Berlin artist K├Ąthe Kollwitz. The sculpture is directly set under an oculus and is exposed to the weather, and symbolizes the suffering of civilians during the war.

Napoleon and I both stood by the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenberg Gate).
Only one of us never went to prison for his ambitions...

My name is Gary and I'm a recovering blogger. I used to blog once or twice a week and stay in touch with my blogging compatriots in other ways. Now I'm doing other things - including I confess, using Facebook almost daily.

I still look at your blogs now and then - you know who you are!

I was in Berlin for the first time, in early December for some Amnesty work (volunteer).

Above are a few pics from the visit. My impressions from a skim-visit to Berlin? It's a multi-layered place, with historical and real ghosts swirling through its subways and with the blown snow between the attractive buildings.

The bottom layer is a cold village, huddled in the swampland along the River Spree. Above that one senses the blare of Prussian trumpets, the rustling of nation-building and snorting horses. The turmoil of the early 20th century piled on top of that quickly - with the horrors of war, the breeding ground for fascism and the freewheeling good times of music, cabaret and delicious sin! Then Berlin was so connected to the insanity that killed 60 million worldwide...and the murder of so many Jews and others... The 3rd Reich and its horrors are there - it's inescapable. This is followed immediately by four decades of the cold war, with the wall, the spies, the wire, the women with beards winning Olympic medals - the interesting craziness of it all. Down with the wall - Trabis now free to roam, and a new Germany forms as the top layer. And even that Germany is not simple - 25% of the city are immigrants or immigrant children, it's a mecca for gay culture, it has 160 museums...high fashion, astounding architecture and business all stroll hand in hand with graffiti covered walls, artist squats and underground music. It's the post-old-new-past-post-future Europe!

Did I like it? You bet I did...

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