Time: 6.00 PM
I’ve visited Berlin twice in the past year; once as the winter was beginning and then again as the summer was picking up. I came to the city with a fear, already having my mind made up that I had to like what I saw, for many reasons; but mostly because I might have to move there soon.
You know that feeling you get when you walk into a room and you immediately know that someone has left it? It is almost like a scent or an echo. That’s what Berlin feels like. It feels like one of those dead, lost in time, mid highway towns in the states that people just walked up and left from leaving everything behind to continue their silent undisturbed lives. It has a laid back atmosphere to it that other capitals don’t; a peacefulness. It’s an effect given by the post-war architecture and the large streets which make it look like it popped up from a dystopian sci-fi novel. There is no traffic in Berlin, and while you walk you find yourself wondering where everybody has gone. It almost feels deserted (although the reality is the complete opposite.)
As I walked along the streets, the thirty degree sun burning my skin, slowly one after another people emerge on the setting; a mother dragging a child by the arm, an old couple in military green walking side by side, a group of teenagers with Mohicans and spandex laying on the grass almost as if they are acting out a script. All these figures so different to one another yet somehow organically coexisting.
As day becomes night and the moon brings the most needed summer breeze, Berlin starts buzzing with life. Dark and musky bars fill with electronic sounds, loud talk, and laughter, parks are covered with a rug of people engaging in small talk.
Everyone in Berlin is a musician, or an artist, or has escaped from a previous life and is trying to begin again. You hear their stories blending in with the music. Berlin may look industrial but the art and culture are found in the streets and the people; you get the sense that the age of commercialization is almost here but hasn’t quite arrived.
I was first introduced to Berlin in the winter, but I recently got to know it in the summer. For a city condemned to live its life in cold and shadows through most of the year, it definitely knows how to thrive in the sun. I could go on talking for pages and pages about its bars, streets, and music but I think that what really gives Berlin its identity is the chance to discover its corners yourself, one at a time.