When you think of Germany what do you picture? I’m sure people think of Hitler, Octoberfest, Bratwurst and beer. Or maybe that’s just me.Most of Germany proudly displays this. Visit Bavaria and you will never see people more proud of these cliches, including laderhosen. However my favorite city is Berlin because it is so unlike the rest of Germany.
Not to say the people who live there are any less German. Berlin has a unique history. Having been an area of importance during World War 2, Nazi history is every where and no where at all. Most of Berlin was de-Nazified after WWII. Little remains except the knowledge of what was.
However immediately following the war occupation of Berlin by both the US and Russia happened. For a very long time Berlin was split in two and its German identity stripped away. One side living under US rule and having the freedoms that go along with that, the others under oppressive Russian rule and living in fear until the Berlin Wall fell.
Imagine waking up into a world you barely knew and you might come close to understanding what it was like when reunification happened for Germany. Everyone living in East Berlin had to relearn the world around them. Berlin had grown over the years but not under German rule so there fore ended up very different then the rest of the country. This is evident everywhere you go in the city.
The first time I landed in Berlin I so desperately wanted to eat at a traditional German restaurant. I wanted Schnitzel or something equally German sounding. However much to my dismay I found it very hard to find German food. The city flourished with great restaurants but most did not serve German food. Italian, Indian, Mexican places were everywhere. It was slightly upsetting but also extremely intriguing. I feel like Berlin was on a quest for their own identity. One they could choose because for so long they had no choice.
It made me love the city even more. One of my favorite food choices can be found in food carts all over the city, Curry Wurst! Its German sausage with a mix of ketchup and curry on top. Delicious and cheap!
The communist past has all but disappeared behind graffiti art, art squats and metal bars. All over Berlin you will find rundown and sometimes bombed out buildings that they know use as art houses. All along what was the Berlin Wall is beautiful graffiti art. The city actually gave them the space to make something beautiful out of it and you know what? They did. I spent hours walking around and looking at all the paintings.
When it comes to fashion 70’s and 80’s punk rock never left Berlin, or its just hitting it. I am not sure which one. Regardless tons of people look like they just stepped out of a Ramones video. It is completely acceptable to have hot pink hair, fishnets and an aqua colored skirt and be taken seriously as an adult. It seems to me Berliners are a resilient people who have not let there turbulent past be speckle a bright future. I love Berlin because I feel like it is a place that excepts everything. I love Berlin because there is both great moments in history and some dark moments too. But you know what they say you can’t have the good without the bad.
I also want to add that I stayed in a awesome hostel called Raise a Smile. Unfortunately it is no longer open. Raise a Smile was a non profit hostel They worked to raise money to send to Africa where they also ran a charity organization there. The people who owned it closed up shop and now live in Africa running their organization full time. The good in people consistently fills me with happiness. Although I am sad no one can ever stay at this wonderful hostel.
When you travel to Germany, which you should plan on doing, make sure you come to Berlin. I have been there twice and each time I find something new to love about it.