Berlin

In a last-minute decision, my Dutch friend Ruthger and I decided to grab an overnight train to Berlin. We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard near the Holocaust Museum. Berlin is a very interesting and culturally rich city. It isn't culturally traditional but actually very diverse, which was particularly intriguing to me given that this city was once the center of Nazi Germany, a part of it's history that Berlin is working hard to scrub. The city is rich with every version of modern art since the 1940's. My buddy Simon, who had been staying in the city for several weeks by the time I visited, took me to Treptower Park, the site of a HUGE Soviet War Memorial and cemetery. What struck me about the memorial was how symmetrical it was and how the beauty of that symmetry was brought out by a thin coat of snow that covered the entire park. Having my camera with me everywhere, I feel that Simon somehow knew exactly what I wanted to see.

Before taking me to Treptower, however, he took me to the East Side Gallery,  the site of the border between East and West Berlin, and where a large part of the Berlin Wall still stands. More than a half-mile of the wall stands here, adjacent to the Spree River, and is COVERED with art that has been painted over time and time again. It's a memorial for peace and freedom, and it seems that one doesn't simply walk up to the wall and start tagging it up; if you're going to paint on the East Side Gallery, you'd best be someone. Simon encouraged me to take as many pictures as I wanted, which I think he soon regretting since I started snapping away in the FREEZING weather, but it paid off: I was able to stitch many of them into panoramics.