“Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler. Depending on the city and on the traveler, there might begin a mutual love, or dislike, friendship, or enmity. Where one city will rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality. Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected.”
― Roman Payne, Cities & Countries
I have spent a week in Berlin, a city that I can best describe as schizophrenic. Where one expects to find an old heart, the buildings rise like shards, brand new and transparent. You can spend hours walking around in Kreuzberg, the main tourist destination, and not find anything resembling the character you would expect of an old European city, let alone the capital. But cross the Spree to the east and carry on exploring, and you find charming little squares surrounded by local neighbourhood shops, like Boxhabenerplatz in Friedrichshain. The so-called "death strip" on the eastern side of the Berlin Wall left a rift through the centre of the city that has now been partly filled with new construction. Century-old houses masquerade as new with renovated facades, but reveal a whole different character once you step inside. It's disorientating, it's confusing. It's fascinating and exciting. It's not an easy city to acquaint oneself with (at least not for this traveler) but well worth the effort.
These photographs are some first impressions - colour, symmetry, patterns, old and new, paradoxes everywhere.
A stroll along the length of the Spree will take you past a beautiful summary of the city with museums, buskers, official buildings and the calming presence of the the river tying the whole experience together.
Berlin feels like an interesting and mysterious stranger with many secrets to discover, and I look forward to delving a little bit deeper into its underbelly to discover the gold and the mud below. What are your favourite destinations in Berlin? Please share in the comments below!