Though I've been to Berlin before when I was young, every time I turned a corner the city held some new surprise. Berlin doesn't feel so much like capitol city as a sprawling student town in love with art and music and beer and freedom.
Berlin was a reunion with my friends from Cambodia. They are some of the best people I know, and where my family while I was on my gap year. During my week in Berlin my friends dropped in and out from all around Europe. It was strange to see them away from Asia. I kept expecting to look out a window and see a Tuktuk or temple, but I cannot imagine better companions for exploring! D Every night was a new adventure: from trying to avoid elderly nudists at a open air concert by a lake to watching the sun rise along a canal with a random pair of hitchhikers from Belarus in a camp set up to protest rising rent, to wandering quiet streets through the night.
At an incredibly relaxed concert
My favorite place we visited: Techalus, a old building plastered with graphetti and occupied by artists who passionately resist the efforts of a bank to retake the building. The dusty, dark walls seemed alive with art and light filtered in colored by paint on the windows – strained glass of the modern age. A rabbit warren Alice in wonderland dreamscape of everything from intricate murals to political statements to scrawled slogans.
Perhaps one reason it has taken me so very long to write a blog for Berlin is how contrasting it is: a vibrant, but chilled out city delighting in its present but haunted by a history which catches you by surprise. In English there is no word for a monument to say you are sorry, but in German there is. Some of the most beautiful architecture I have ever seen was at the memorial for the holocaust, and the Jewish museum where the shadows seem full of ghosts. The past and present blur together here, skyscrapers hover over a skyline of old towers and domes. There is a lot of soul to the place.