Berlin: one big Eurocity?

London to Paris
Amsterdam to Berlin
Walking the same streets
Thinking the same thoughts

Walk down Wardour to Saint-Germain
Is one big lonely city but I don’t care
One big Eurocity but I don’t care

I’ve been singing this since forever, until recently missing the last bit, Berlin, in order to conclude yes, that’s right!
Yet, no. This loneliness sharpened by the beauty of big Eurocities, while setting off to the inevitable long walks, is a recognisable yet rather late effect; that means, it hits after you’ve astonished yourself by walking through Paris (and London and Amsterdam) in the drizzle without umbrella nor a map, but still finding the milestones; or missing them just the same. And while this kind of wandering probably is set in other times, Berlin resets the standard by offering back the rare feel of breathing space. London is crowded, Paris is huge, Amsterdam is exhausting; and there stands Berlin spread as if any possible space can be its own.
A few notes of a fresh passenger:
  • People do dress up to go to cultural events and dressing up is very personal and imaginative without obvious restraints.
  • The fashion trend is different than in Holland; dresses are worn in any style; knee socks, brightly coloured shoes and haircuts are no rarity. Hats are worn casually by men and women.
  • It is somehow unclear whether extreme appearances are meant to shock, are suggestions of belonging or manifestations of freedom and individuality.
  • There is lots of space in old buildings that is used, or can be used for arts and culture, but for businesses as well; available space in general seems not to be a problem. Big squats do exist unaltered in feel and aesthetics.
  • Bicycles make a good part of the traffic.
  • At night the streets are lit mainly by the house numbers; it is quite dark.
  • There is excellent simple food; despite the clichéd sausage-potatoes-sauces there is decent vegetarian too (spicy tofu with Saigon beer was delicious and harmless).
 …as the sense of vanity comes to me in waves, sometimes rushing immediately away but often staggering for days or weeks (months too), this thought of lives lost for nothing, then, a hundred years ago, now or any time, appeared on a breakfast menu; and I honoured it.
First morning coming down from our one floor hotel inside a residential building, we turned right on the Frankfurter Allee to find a café, not sure of the breakfast culture of the city. A few minutes later we were eating a breakfast called Vive la France of fruit, jam and croissant; all bio of course.
East Side Gallery at night, remnants of the wall
East Side Gallery at night, remnants of the wall
during the Vive la France breakfast at the café Tasso-Das andere Antiquariat
a circus and circus school among other things
painting-advert of the circus school
the one floor hotel; the rest of the building is normal apartments

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