Thursday, September 5, 2013

John does Berlin:

Having lived in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 2008, I'm no stranger to all things German. In fact, I can partially read the language when seen on signs and advertisements, and my newly acquired knowledge of the Dutch language has helped with that significantly, too. The German national elections are in a few weeks, and naturally the political signs featuring (a very chic looking, might I add) Angela Merkel were everywhere; whoever created her marketing campaigns this year, at least those in the center of the German capital, must have been paying attention to Virginia Postrell's positions on 'glamour'; Angie appeared approachable due to her smile, distant because she wasn't peering into the camera, yet humble enough to succeed in leading that nation's future. I'm not sure how I'd vote should I be German, but Angie's colored pant suits are a nice change from the everyday black and navy blue suits worn by most male politicians. The city of Berlin itself, however, is not glamourous. It is instead a jungle of concrete and steel, but not in the same way that New York City is; rather, Berlin screams with a screech as the trains of its U-Bahn snakes and crawls its way above and under the city, its rusted and turn of the nineteenth century infrastructure every omnipresent. The city has an energy, that's for sure, but that same energy won't encourage productivity–Berlin is a city for relaxing within, for spending ample amounts of time, and evenings, or even whole nights–watching the sunrise while dancing the night away, as I did last weekend, at Panorama bar–with friends; it's a city for riding bikes, for enjoying the mosaic of history overlaid on the grid that its modern inhabitants continue to extend, recreate, and infill. Berlin is always on the move, and it is a city that's always changing–but never, ever, too quickly. This city needs time for one to truly understand. Even today, after months spent in the city, I am still only an observer.