Sunday, April 25, 2010

Things I Love About Berlin

Now that we are leaving this city, I'm treasuring some favorite things. Here, in random order, are some things I love in Berlin.

1. Our little nest here has been super comfortable and home-like. It will be hard to leave it.2. Bread. It is the best I've ever had anywhere. Brown, crunchy, textured, tasty, freshly baked, available in so many variations. If I go into a bakery, I freeze with indecision - so many perfect choices!3. German beer. As I mentioned earlier, love it. It tastes fresh and flavorful every time, a gustatory treat.
4. Public transportation. Gotta love it! This city must be easily 30 miles across, kind of like LA. But the subway, bus, and tram system covers everything, and you can buy a pass that lets you walk on and off any of them, all day and night. They are precisely on time, clean, safe, and easy to navigate. They constantly tell you where you are, what the next stop is, and where you are headed.5. Dogs everywhere, in subways, on buses, in stores, parks. there seems to be infinite tolerance for dogs, even off-leash. One little dog here was resting at the flea market!6. Graffiti. It is everywhere, and it colors the urban landscape in a unique expression of freedom and commentary. It is kind of like being in a continuous open air gallery without walls or curators, just art popping up everywhere. Some of it is quite beautiful.7. Change. Berlin is a place to feel hopeful. You can't go anywhere here without being reminded of the painful past: the divided city, two recent grueling wars, the Holocaust, broken buildings, broken lives, memorials, the knowledge that this was Hitler's seat of power. It even speaks in most of the art work we see, the torment of a people who have lived with a legacy of pain. You cannot ignore it.

And yet this city is vibrant, growing, healing, thriving. It feels good to be here. It is one city now, democratic, free, full of opportunities, full of life. Sometimes these days it feels to me as if the US is going off the rails (not that we have many rails to go off of)! I said to Daniella yesterday, we will be eating the dust of these Europeans soon. They seem so smart and focused on making life better for the people who live here. They are working on energy conservation in a big way. Their public transportation is excellent. They don't have a big military outlay. Everyone has health care. Their food and water is excellent. We don't see homeless people here or bread lines, something we take for granted in our home town. It's a good place, and it has done a lot of mending in the last decades. That gives me hope.

So off to Frankfurt this morning, and then we fly to Turkey on Wednesday. Auf Wiedersehn for now.

-- Post From My iPad

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