A Day in East Berlin

Today was very warm, and although my Wonder Woman shoes pinched me, I walked around a great deal. My goal was to see what’s left of the Berlin Wall – though even the briefest entry into a history museum reminded me that Berlin is about so much more than the Cold War, or even World War II. Still the Wall is something people generally have a strong reaction to, and being used to the ease and freedom of a Europe without borders, yet having some vague childhood recollections of life behind the Iron Curtain, I am no exception. The chunk of wall I got to see was small but very ugly. It clashed with the sunny afternoon, the cyclists, and dandelions, the overall feeling of ease of the city. What was more interesting was that I couldn’t quite figure out which side of the wall I was on. It was only much later, when I met an old friend for a walk and dinner, that he explained I’d spent the whole day in East Berlin and have apparently so far not ventured to the Western side of the city. That this would not be obvious, I think, is pretty natural. It’s been 30 years since the reunification of Berlin. It would be weird for the East not to feel contemporary and fresh by now. Despite the omnipresent nostalgia-infused memorabilia of times gone by (Who would have thought a shabby little car like the Trabant would become such an icon?) this place is not a time-warp. It’s alive and fun, and with spring here full blast, it has an almost Mediterranean feel to it which I love.

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