I recently had a couple opportunities to get out and see areas of Berlin I had not spent any or much time in. One was for a meeting on the north end of town that I am not familiar with at all. I had a couple hours before said meeting began so I researched worthwhile coffee shops in that area and headed out to one to get some writing done. Unfortunately I didn’t read the hours and it is closed on Mondays (please help me understand who closes a coffee shop on a Monday???). So, I found a chain bakery, grabbed a Chai and powered through a couple writing assignments I had on my plate. After that I wandered around the neighborhood until I arrived at the meeting. I am glad I had the time to stroll through this area, in this walking and getting lost I tend to see more of the city than I would if I stayed on the bus, tram, or trains. These times open my eyes to how diverse and completely different each area of Berlin truly is.
I also got to play tourist in my own city for part of a day! I finally went to Check Point Charlie for the first time. After the photo op we went to visit an exhibit called the Berlin Wall Panorama by Aissi. The photos here are moving. The voice recording from the inner room reminds you where you are and what you’re seeing. History happened here, literally right there where Check Point Charlie is less than 100 meters from the entrance, you have to step over bricks marking where the wall once stood to enter, you are standing where these stories happened. It is amazing.
Inside the exhibit the walls are full of graffiti, but don’t worry it is encouraged here. They room is full of cement walls, floors, pillars in the middle and markers for your to make your mark. You were here. What does freedom mean to you? Who do you love today? Marks over marks, the entire floor and every cement surface in the whole place is covered.
I am moved by the fact that an artist can seem to bring to life these moments that so many people I meet here have lived through. I hear their stories and as I stood in this exhibit I can relate just a little more. While I will never be able to fully understand what life in Berlin was like historically, I will embrace each opportunity to understand it more. Each time I step into a new area of Berlin and each piece of history I learn give context for the conversations I have with people who have lived their entire lives here.
Here’s to living life in a diverse city filled with history and learning opportunities. May I never tire of learning it’s story!