My cousin John is visiting from Ireland, where he's been studying the past 5 months. Believing he only had 2 days to see all of Berlin, I quickly threw him on a bicycle and we rode to the 200m stretch of the Berlin Wall still standing. Phew, he saw the wall. Next, on to the Brandenberg Gate, the "neoclassical triumphal arch" that is one of Germany's most well known landmarks. Lots of crowds. Nearby, we observed the Holocaust Memorial, an impressive 2,711 slabs of thick concrete of varying heights that makes you feel as though you are walking into and through a cemetery. The lowest point actually feels like you're in a mass grave. I always get very quiet when moving through this piece. Says Wiki, the sculpture "aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason." I agree with that statement, am incredibly moved by it, and only wish there were fewer screaming tourists treating the space like an amusement park.
Above: The Wall, Berlin, 2013 Below: Holocaust Memorial, Berlin, 2013
I left John after the Memorial to head to my magazine planning session, and he continued on to a tour of the Reichstag capital building and the TV Tower, the highest point in Berlin and reminding me of the Space Needle in Seattle. We rendezvoused a few hours later at Checkpoint Charlie, then dined on Spaetzle and Schnitzel at a fantastic Austrian restaurant in Kreuzberg, amusingly called No Kangaroo. We ended the evening drinking bottles of Hefeweizen on the street and discussing WW2 and Terrence Malick films, the state of the world, Turk-German tensions in Berlin, abortion rights (or a lack thereof) in Ireland, Fundamentalist Mormon beliefs, and how all that relates (or not at all, really) to our recent, failed relationships. A very action-packed, wonderful day. What's next, Berlin?!
Photo by John Machado: Anni at Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin