Berlin took me by surprise. I hadn’t imagined loving this gritty, edgy and arty city so quickly.
A clever and poignant fusion of history and modern art makes this city so unique in character and style. Take the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. From street-level the concrete slabs (over 2000 of them) seem to create a maze-like installation – and that’s about it. Until you start walking through them. The ground below you undulates and the slabs tower over your head. It becomes claustrophobic as the towers isolate you from the outside world and there’s no longer a view of the street – just the grey above your head and shadows on the ground.
East Side Gallery is another remnant of the city’s history. It’s the longest strip of the Berlin Wall, covered in art and graffiti. Many of the murals symbolise a peace between societies and people; a message to the world about the conflicting nature of building borders. (A topic that’s still so current you’ll see graffiti about Donald Trump and Mexico.)
Amongst this gritty, postmodern Berlin, sit beautiful, regal buildings like the Berlin Cathedral. The city is one of contrasts, adding to its charm and attraction.
(Perhaps not the best contrast I experienced in the city, but it was one nonetheless, so worth mentioning again: racist bouncers among a sea of friendly queer folk.)