Berlin, Feels Like Home

A Youth Backpacker in Europe
Chapter XI
Berlin, Feels Like Home

City: Berlin
y: Germany
Currency: Euro
Travel Date: 19-22 January 2008

Travel Buddies: Siddharth, Eg
on, Rahma, Stella, Philipp, Chris and Meghan

Caption: Single most important depiction of Berlin history

Berlin is such an important city for past and current world affairs and it is definitely a crucial checkpoint for the world's history. However, it felt strangely familiar during my visit. For more than one moment, I questioned myself: Have I boarded a flight that brought me back to my home country Malaysia?

I was literally drenched in rain for the entire 4-day stay in Berlin. This megacity looked nothing more like Kuala Lumpur when it was cloudy and rainy, flashflood-less of course. Wide roads with wheels speeding along, unplanned city development, numerous unknown buildings that seem to have received careless treatment, and the uncoated dirtiness around the city, I couldn't help but wonder the resemblance between Berlina and Kuala Lumpur.

Having mentioned the esrtwhile blatant descriptions, yes, it is an explicit indication that I didn't really enjoy my Berlin stay (so as Kuala Lumpur). First of all, why do I have to fly continents away to go a place that I feel familiar with? Secondly, the "monsoon" season during my visit had literally killed my travelling mood. And lastly, the city was, allow me to be scrupulously honest, ugly.

Caption: Two drawings on the Eastside Gallery.

Indeed, it is unfair to judge the city with my sole opinion. Everyone should visit the city before making his or her own conclusion. That was also the reason why I was so deeply disappointed after drowned by the many there-is-just-so-much-going-on comment from my friends. Perhaps expectation does always lead to frustration. But sincerely, I wouldn't fancy revisiting the city in the future.

Perhaps the city is dirty. Perhaps it is not intelligently constructed mainly due to the destruction during the war and the demand to recover at its fastest. But the rain that I hated pretty much was contradictorily the magic wand that miraculously added a must have Berlin atmosphere during my visit. What could be a better weather to visit the Holocaust, Charlie checkpoint, Eastside gallery of Berlin Wall if not a rainy one?

Caption: Berlin division and the cut off section of Berlin Wall.

War was once again becam the main course of my winter trip after Poland. I knew it was only a matter of time that learning about Nazism from the inside and not from the outside (Poland) is on my agenda since the moment I started planning my winter trip.

It was less depressing though if compared to Auschwitz, perhaps the sudden imposition of disbelief reduced significantly when the War agenda was again raised. Emotion was niggardly involved, but it was educational to walk along the Eastside gallery which for some is mainly a long piece of graffiti by unknown artists. To me, a lot of messages could be delivered if one scrutinise the drawings carefully.

Undoubtedly, the Berlin Wall is the single most important feature of Berlin. But the historical past of the city was actually filled up the every corner around the city. There were permanent exhibitions made available to public at various locations in the city. The city is definitely made for War enthusiasts and I would probably describe it as a vast walk-in museum to the War.

Caption: Charlie Checkpoint and some exhibition close to the Holocaust.

Politically, the history of Berlin is not only the attraction to visitors. A visit to Berlin would seem to be less perfect if the Parliament is not in your agenda. And topping it up with a handful of greyish atmosphere, excellent.

Compared to the other visitor hotspots, the Parliament is relatively "young". The core section of the Parliament is definitely the Dome, an interesting architecture feature of the Parliament structure that allows visitors to view the seating of parliament from the top, of course, when there is one. During my visit, it was just too bad. However, ascending and descending in alternate order along the pathways inside the Dome was also an intriguing event.

Honestly, that was it, my Berlin encounter. Being the "last" stop of my winter trip, I was culturally filled and started to lose motivation for eager exploration. Lid-ed by the discouraging weather (and just for how many times more I am going to blame on the weather?), I must admit that I deliberately kept my enthusiasm safely in a hidden corner. Perhaps it is time to settle down at my second home - the Netherlands.

Caption: The Parliament building and inside the Dome.