Berlin is a city of puzzling dichotomy. During the day, it can be a poignant reality. Shards and fragments of its bloody past still sting as you stumble upon the countless exhibits of broken walls and heart-rending memorials. At night on the other hand, a new grittier life begins and the air is seemingly engulfed by faint smoke and the streets filled with a fuzzy kaleidoscope of potentially drunk party goers. It’s definitely a crazy city but nonetheless, it is not dead.
Outside the fancy renaissance glamour of Museum Island packed with titanic European treasures like the Berliner Dom, a familiar Berlin street is heavily marred by graffiti consistent with its nightly deviant populace. Geometric post-war buildings are aplenty, still exuding the terror of the pre-wall burden that the Germans before had to endure.
Dispersed throughout the city are open air memorials of the holocaust as well as its communist era which both probably tainted its streets with torture and bloodshed. The Berlin wall remnants, as evident in the colorful, abstract, street art on its East Side Gallery are today’s reminders of regained freedom of expression from these oppressive eras in recent history. A wall that used to denote suppression now screams unfeigned liberty.
Berlin also offers a unique experience. For one, it has plenty of large scale abandoned places unknowingly plagued by creepy tourism. And I am not talking about the haunted places frequented by ghosts of the wars (I mean, that would be a bit insensitive) but of unused tunnels, train stations, office buildings left to rot and consumed by natural fauna. The most famous of which is the abandoned theme park by the Spree River. Its ferris wheel still turns as the wind blows and the degrading lubrication obviously produces a creaky sound which adds a dimension to an already scary experience.
In the end, I enjoyed Berlin not because of fancy sights (well there isn’t much of that anyway) but of its unique atmosphere, which at first may feel a bit too street or urban ghetto but is actually more dynamic and fun than dangerous. It sincerely beats every German stereotype. Also it is surprisingly cheap for a capital of one of the world’s biggest economies but I am not complaining. It’s for this reason that I got to load up on beer and currywurst so the experience was quite satisfying.