Wowzi how I love Berlin. It has been, and may always be, my favorite city. You can feel the history beneath your feet as you walk down the cobble stone streets. Between pieces of the wall that are still standing and the museums that seem to be around every corner, you can find much more to this city.
The last time I was in Berlin was for my high school exchange program. The trip was definitely fun, but it was filled with learning about the history of the nazis, the war, and the wall. Although sad, all of these things are very important to be educated on. Especially if you plan on spending any time in Germany. But now that I have come back without the supervision of teachers or parents, I have seen what I feel is the real Berlin. Musky bars hidden in graffiti filled allies, YAAM (Young African Arts Market) next to the river Spree, and small communities surrounded by walls of scrap metal and old war tanks. The street artists cover, and I truly mean cover, the walls and buildings of Berlin in beautiful murals and meaningful text. Berlin is not a sparkling city, and the residents there want to keep it that way. To cover up this graffiti and street art, is to cover up the past of Berlin. When the wall came down in 1989, the east was basically abandoned. All of those who could now access the west fleaed there. Leaving the east to be turned in to night clubs, bars, and a street artists haven. These parts of Berlin could be compared to the Brooklyn of New York. Although unlike New York, there is a swirl of love in the air. Everyone you meet seems to embrace you with open arms. Whether you speak the language or not, you can communicate with the residents. And while I can speak some German, no one seems to judge or discriminate when I choose to switch to English so I can fully express myself.
While in Berlin, I went on a free alternative tour. While on it I met two girls from America. They are both studying abroad right now in France and had been taking a weekend trip to Berlin. We ended up spending three days together, meeting up at bars and restaurants. Visiting the Sunday flea markets and eating way too much Döner (a Turkish specialty seen on almost every street corner.) they introduced me to the people who they were staying with at their Airbnb. And again, superbly nice people. Some traveling around Europe, some living here for short periods of time, and some who just bought apartments in Berlin. It was nice to be with like minded people who share similar views on the world we live in. Apart from Rita, these have been my first new friends while backpacking. And oh how it has restored my faith in humanity. Everyone was so open to discussing everything from traveling, to relationships, and of course Donald Trump. I enjoyed listening to these people tell their stories. How they got here, what they want in life, their hopes for the future of their sorrow from the past. I feel as though this has moved me forward on my trip. That it’s made me less of an introverted traveler. Thank you to the two Sophia’s who came up and introduced themselves. I have been inspired to step out of my comfort zone to say hello to strangers. So much good can come out of a simple hello. I couldn’t be happier with my trip to Berlin!