A scheduled dad week with a trip-on-a-whim plan landed us in Berlin a week and a half ago. A new place for all of us with the exception that PB went in college one year after the wall came down ('91- he said it's changed since then). Berlin was on our side trip request list since planning our trip to France. I was so excited that we could make it happen. It was an easy under 2 hour direct flight from Nice. We found a perfect hotel, Pension Peters, that had a room for 5 available. A room for 5 is rare in Europe. I called it my camp cabin because the kids were in twin beds lined up against the wall in front of the big bed. On our first morning, the hotelier recommend that we start out with a boat tour of the city. It was a perfect start in a big city. I was beside myself taking photos- the lines, shapes, colors, organic, inorganic, old, new was pumping my photo blood. I realized early on in our exploring that Berlin had so much to compare and contrast. The old versus new- history, walls, wars, economy, culture, etc.
In Berlin, the ugly and bad things are quietly laid to rest. Most are not acknowledged. The city that once had a "death strip" for 29 years dividing it into East Berlin and West Berlin has very little physical presence today. Berlin doesn't capitalize on the ugly facts. We had to search hard for the landmark sights of modern day history's past. Like the sight of Hitler's bunker- the place that he killed himself when his control was crumbling and the Nazi book burning. One is a parking lot and the other is an unmarked window on a library plaza.
We visited the German History Museum, ate currywurst under the tracks, walked in the street market, toured the Pergamon and ate wienerschnitzel in a beer garten. Trying to balance the past and present, we had several meaningful conversations with the kids. There's a dark and disturbing past to ponder and digest and a seemingly healthy and thriving economy to understand. Berlin has made 2 contrasting sides seamlessly blend together. The Berliners have a pleasant outlook on life. They deserve a change for the better and we enjoyed seeing a slice of it as it's still changing in front of the world.