Cobblestones marking the location of the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany
The Berliner Mauer is the German name for the Berlin Wall.
Quite a lot of history and quite a lot of emotion associated with that name.
Goddess and I made our first (of what will likely be several) trips to Berlin last weekend. We had a long weekend, so we took advantage of the Intercity Express (ICE) trains, which are high speed, but thanks to connections and stops, still take about the same amount of time to get there.
But I’m fairly certain that the law frowns on me enjoying a beer while driving. So we let the conductor do the driving. But not really for that reason, although it is a nice reason. We chose the train because when Goddess and I see a city, we see a city.
Mainly on foot.
Down back alleys.
Off the beaten path.
For 12-15 hours each day.
And that gets exhausting. So throw a 5-6 hour drive on top of that and it’s almost too much. So the train saves the day.
I’ve already started posting images from our trip and there will be plenty more to come. In the three full days of canvassing the city, I shot “only” about 300 images, which is not much compared to previous trips. By comparison, a three day trip to Kyoto, Japan was worth about 1,200 images.
Of course, not all are keepers. But in both cases, I still came out with quite a few.
Mostly black and white.
Because that’s how I saw the city.
And if not black and white, the colors were very muted. It must have been the cold, cloudy German winter days that helped generate that mood. But I’m certain that the history had something to do with that too.
Here’s a four-shot image of the view out our very modern hotel room. The stitching is sloppy, mainly thanks to the very wide 10mm lens. But I’m sure I can get the point across.
If you look closely, you’ll see a brown line. It’s actually a line of cobblestones, two wide. And the line traces the route of the Berlin Wall.
Coming from the west, right down the middle of the street, before turning south into a field.
So as I hung out the window and looked, I couldn’t help but think about what it was like 22+ years ago.
Our hotel was on what would have been on the East Berlin side, the apartment complex directly across would have been in the West Berlin sector.
So I was explaining to Goddess the image that I remember seeing as a kid, one where the father was holding up his very young baby in a window across the wall so that Grandmother, looking through a window and visible only as a silhouette, could see her grandchild. It was likely the closest they ever got.
I sure wish I could find that image. It’s not in Life Magazine’s archive.
But this one is in their archive and it captures the mood that I felt when leaning out the window into the cold winter air, watching the small snowflakes get whipped around in the wind.
Could you imagine living like that?
Be grateful for what you have.
One of the things that I love about Germans (and Europeans in general) is that they get out and do things.
Even if the weather is what some, if not many, would consider horrible.
Last winter I was out on a 20 mile run through the snow, on a day when the high reached only +8°F (-13°C), and the forest and trails were packed with people of all ages, out to get their walk in, or slide along on their cross-country skis.
But these two were out on a day when it was 34°F (+1°C), rain mixed with snow.
And she was looking quite bright. OK, at least her umbrella was.
BTW, this was Thanksgiving day. A gloomy, rainy Thursday.
A day that Goddess and I were thankful to share, exploring the Weinachtsmarkt and side alleys of Speyer.
Sharing glüwein, bratwurst and laughs.