We’ve been working in a couple of my classes on reflections, essays, and projects from the Berlin trip. Berlin is a hard city to describe…. every time I thought I had gotten an idea of the vibe of the city, I encountered some totally different aspect of it. So here are three quick scenes, each about a different dimension of Berlin!
The sky above is utterly blank and white as if someone had erased the sun and the clouds and the blue. But there is a heaviness to this erased sky; it weighs down with something more than just emptiness.
Graffiti pervades everywhere.
You noticed it before you left the train station, even before you got off the train. It covers without discrimination: buildings, signs, walls. Graffiti, the mask of the city, acts as a tough exterior, a film between Berlin itself and the tourists passing through. Tourists like me.
To your left stretches a Wall. The Wall. It is relatively inconspicuous – not tall, not thick, but colorful with its own excessive explosions of the graffiti. In my own mind the Berlin Wall has always loomed large and menacing… the Iron Curtain, the impenetrable barrier, the edge of a system and lifestyle that I knew and understood.
The reality of these stooped and broken remnants of a wall does not jibe with my expectations.
In some ways, Berlin was kind of a downer – we focused our studies on the upheavals of history, the war, and communism. But at the end, I really liked the city. It has rebuilt and restructured itself into a unified Western European city in such an amazingly short period of time. And everywhere you go – historic sites and buildings coexist with new, modern structures…..
J’adore that juxtaposition. : )
So. Traveling around Europe has been great so far! And this weekend, I’m headed for the Swiss Alps for lots of snow and sledding – I can’t wait! But first… German test on Friday. : O