Sunday, 10 August 2014


This was a great weekend, good friends of ours visited us from Berlin; we know each other from the times we still lived in great city to spend your early, stress-less early 20s in.  

The weekend can sometimes be very very short..or wait, let me correct myself..the weekend is always too short! It is even shorter if you spend it in good company, and it turns into fast forwarding time machine if you spend it in good company and at great places!

As we walked between skyscrapers and promenades we had a chance to talk a lot about history, politics, and economy. These topics may seem boring to some, but it does get interesting if you share your background and experiences, and learn a different side of an apparently clear story.

Much has happened over the past 100 years.
The geography of the world has changed. Some countries have been first doubled than halved in their size. Monarchies rose and fell; boundaries have been closed, reopened and then closed again.
The world faced two world wars and innumerable regional wars thereafter.
Many of our most beautiful cities have been bombed down and rebuilt again. Some succeeded in regaining their once envied glory; others hopelessly fell into a decay.
Amongst all however; there is one city in Europe reflecting the beauty and the darkness, the highs and the lows, the good and the bold of the last century: Berlin.
I remember the first time I flew to Berlin, in 2010, I asked our friends to describe the city, or at least give me an idea of what it is like. The one answer I got was: "Hip! Berlin is Hip!" . I didn´t understand what that exactly meant, and have asked to define this properly again. The definition was just the answer repeated once again: "Hip, Berlin is hip!".
I was raised up in a picturesque wine region in north-west Italy and I am used to one certain type of people, and one certain landscape. The word hip never really belonged to my vocab  as a kid/teenager. But once I landed in Tegel Airport (Berlin) 4 years ago and took the tube to the city, I knew what they meant.
Berlin is a city of artists, a city of rebels and a city which never sleeps.
East and West, North and South literally meet in Berlin. The city is a real multicultural centre; about 20 to 30% of the population is either foreigner or has foreigner origins, which really warms up the generally cold German attitudes.
According to an article in Wikipedia, over 60% of Berlin´s population has no religious affiliation, which explains (to me at least) the openness of the Berliners to almost everything.
You can walk through an elegant area and suddenly find yourself in a graffiti rundown and then again at a designer studio. The city is home to a typical eastern bloc architecture on one side, and to some beautiful old buildings on the other.
The division between east and west is clear, the scars remain, and you can almost smell them as you walk from the first Döner snack bar in the world in Kreutzberg to the beautiful Charlottenburg Palace in Charlottenburg.
You don’t need major historical literacy to feel the uneasiness the existence of checkpoint Charlie (as well as all the other checkpoints), of the Wall and of the many barbed wires surrounding it have caused.

The atmosphere today is somehow still very surreal, as if the city were stuck in an eternal moment of quietness, as if the cars and people keep moving but the air remains still, the same air the previous generations breathed in, and the next generations will breathe in.  

The city has managed to rise up again and become the prosperous home of many, but as the daily stress takes over, and as you walk down Friedrichstraße it is hard to forget the atrocities and unfairness Berlin witnessed.

Yesterday a little jail too close to an unreachable west, today home to many immigrants hoping for a better life. Tomorrow, the place our generation will make out of it.

I advice you watch “Good Bye Lenin” if you can. A movie bringing to the point the many emotional aspects the unification of Germany and the fall of the wall resulted in. 
A rebellious, moving, and meaningful movie which might help you understand Berlin: the bold, the thrilling, the hip.

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