13 June 2008

Back from the Bs

Berlin and Bradford that is. Last week Berlin, this week Bradford. Intriguingly different places, I might add.

I had not been to Berlin since July 1988, when I was young and impressionable and the city had a wall. I remember that one side was coloured and the other side was grey. One side was busy and the other side had really really wide streets with no one on them. I remember being astounded by the space of the Pergamon museum and scared when we crossed through Checkpoint Charlie, over the no-man's land and into the grey, commercial-free zone of East Berlin. People even wore grey--in my memory at least. And it was cold and rainy that July. I had packed one sweater. I wear it in every photo from the trip.

All of that has largely changed, as you might imagine. Checkpoint Charlie is a bit disneylandish now, and the strip where the wall was has been filled in with office buildingy things from the mid-90s. (I fear we will look back on mid-90s architecture with the same horror we reserve now for mid-60s architecture. I'm not saying that the latter doesn't have its charms--I secretly and truly love a lot of it (concrete is cool!)--but this 90s stuff is a bit horrifying in its, well, smugness.)

I walked everywhere, ate required sausage, took required pic of Zoo station, did Ku-damm and Mitte, ran around Tiergarten and through Brandenburg gate (not something I could have done 20 years ago, obviously--also the Starbucks right there didn't so much exist in 1988. weird.) And generally had a good time.

Thoughts: there are no cars in Berlin. Well, not where I was staying (in Mitte--center of the city). I'm not saying there are no no cars, but that usually there are bikes. and peds. and trams. and more of same, and then one car. repeat. It means the streets are quiet aside from the odd scooter, and that the cars are restricted to the major arteries. this is genius. whatever factors contribute to this state of affairs--everyone everywhere should copy them. Now. go on...

Other thought: Wales has no capitalism. There's nothing to buy here. Why would you buy things? In berlin there's everything to buy. stuff, and shoes, and clothes, and more stuff, and chocolate, and clothes, and cars, and paper, and whiskey, and absinthe, and art, and stuff. in Wales it's boot sales, grocery/farmer market food, and that's about it. so none of that communist stuff rubbed off on Berlin, but it seems that the sky, sea, food, and air is pretty much enough for those in Wales. cool.

right. why are we leaving again? oh yes. iPhone. obviously.

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