berlin, part ii

Toward the end of Wings of Desire, there is a sort of Psalm recitation. A soliloquy voice-over about what we long for and think about as children that remains a thruline throughout our lives.

"On every mountaintop," the voice says, "the longing for a higher mountain yet." And, "in every city, the longing for an even greater city."

This rang so true for me. I've lived in many many places, and in each one, after I've "conquered" them, I've thought - Onward! Upward! And whenever I've returned for a visit, I've often thought, "However did I live here??? [e.g. Boston, San Francisco] It's just so *small*!"

But Berlin seems different. I think it's quite ironic that a movie about Berlin claims that no matter the city, there is a longing for an even greater city. As I mentioned in my last post, I found Berlin rather impenetrable; a great unfurling metropolis... with so many layers.

After all, there isn't a spot of geography without history, but few have been emblematic of so many diverse ideologies in such a short span. This is the place of Prussia! Of Wiemar! Of Nazism! Of Sovietism! Of the Cold War! Of squatters! Of art! Of engineering!

So many elements, all heaped upon the next and then pushed out from the center into a sprawl of districts and neighborhoods so far-flung I couldn't begin to try and get to them. How could anyone really truly long for a greater city than this one? It seems the ultimate in challenge, in riddle. Berlin seems like a place that needs years of deciphering.

So with that as a caveat, since I had days, not years, I bring you some additional promised pictures from my journey there. Enjoy!

The predictable first pic - no? The Berlin Wall...

"Madness" - think that sums it all up nicely.

This footpath could not have happened a few decades ago...

There's a continuous line of cobblestones throughout the city that indicates exactly where the wall once stood.

Brandenburg Gate 50 years ago, when they rolled out barbed wire before the wall itself went up.

And Brandenburg Gate today.

Toys for tots in East Germany during the Cold War... Grenades are fun!

A luxury stretch Hummer going through the site of Checkpoint Charlie (which has all been recreated... and according to my tour guide, is now manned by Eastern European immigrants...)

No idea...

Love the options here.... "Do you vote?" Ha. "No - I don't care for nothing!"

Couldn't resist... a new cartoon character for 'Don't Walk'!

And walk!

Am I an idiot for not fully realizing that Berlin has a river running through it??

My hotel (a former bank) - the building beside the green dome (thank you corporate expense accounts that aren't mine). This is also the square where books from a university were burned during the Nazi-rise.

And where I spent a good dealing of my Berlin evenings... a few lovely receptions on top of this roof... (need to get my camera lens cleaned, clearly).

So this wasn't quite as fantastic as the to-die-for breakfast at the hotel, which consisted of every variety of fruit, muesli and yogurt you could possibly imagine (in an atrium setting, no less) but it also didn't cost 40 euros (whoops!)... Rhubarb Kuchen and Caffe Americano by the river.

This bird was seriously interested in my Rhubarb Kuchen... had to enlist that fork to try and fend him off!

The mall, Quartier 206, which looks like it was designed by M.C. Escher.

Nice pic from one of Berlin's many many wonderful parks. Which happens to go well with the last line from the Wings of Desire monologue:
"When the child was a child, It threw a stick like a lance against a tree,
And it quivers there still today."

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