Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Journey to Eastern Europe: Berlin

After having an relaxing time in Prague (and eating as many bagels as I possibly could) my friend Chelsi and I hopped on the bus back to Berlin. Although from first site Berlin didn´t seem as quintesentially European as other cities (in that thousands of years old architecture kind of way) I was intrigued by the history and counter-culture there. And it did not disappoint! As a total history nerd, the city's history was fascinating. In order to get my bearings I went on a tour around the major monuments of the city. Because of the bombings during WWII there weren't as many old buildings in beautiful Baroque or Gothic style. However, there was however the most amazing graffiti I have every seen. And not just in one place, but all over the city. I have come to the conclusion that graffiti can either be strikingly beautiful or a total eyesore but in Berlin it was exceptional. After taking a tour to learn the history and important monuments of the city on Saturday, Chelsi and I rented bikes on Sunday to see more of the underground parts of the city. We biked all over the city and got to see another side of Berlin. From the East Side Gallery which is the longest part of the wall that remains and has now turned into a museum of graffiti artists from all over the world. It was my favorite part of Berlin. From the pictures you can understand why right?  

I also visited a concentration camp outside of Berlin which was an incrediably moving and intense experience. One of the things that struck me most about Berlin was the openess that they exhibited about the sins of their past. We are all well aware of the terrible crimes committed in Germany but in Berlin they are put front and center. The memorial to the Jews killed in WWII was placed in the center of Berlin for the government, Berliners, and visitors to see. I thought that was pretty remarkable for a country that has such darks parts in their history to put them on display. It made me wonder if the U.S. would do the same about some of the less finer parts of our history. What do you think?

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