What was supposed to be a 4 day break turned into an 11 day long wait. As I mentioned in my previous post, the tyre of my cart had burst. I eventually managed to order new tyres but soon gave up hope of being on the road again by Monday as I had originally planned. Well, the weekend is here but still no tyres. So I was pretty much stuck in Berlin. Not that I am complaining – there are definitely worse places to be in. Berlin is a great city. I have used my time for sight seeing, shopping, a spectacular show and also to be completely lazy and stay in bed till 4pm. Hey, after 762km my feet deserve a break as well 🙂 A big Thank You goes to our dear friend Andrea who let me stay in her apartment for so long. We had good conversations and whiskey till late almost every evening.
The first four days in Berlin I visited a Tantra course which was presented from a different point of view to the one in Tallinn. It was also very interesting and it is good to now have the best of both worlds.
Berlin, like no other city, has always been a symbol for the clash between the east and the west. If only the world could see it as it is now, as a symbol of how east and west can integrate and melt together in a peaceful and vibrant way. It is truly impressive how the old, the new, the poor, the rich, the modern and the history can coexist in harmony. And everywhere there are trees, birds, water features, art, cycle ways, restaurants and little shops that sell the weirdest things. I saw a shop that specialised in shaving brushes. That was all they sold: different utensils used for a wet shave!
My favourite shop is the Ampelmann shop. The former East Germany had its own very cute pedestrian traffic light character which became such a cult figure that they dare not replace it with the one used in the rest of Germany. The following became so big that there is now a franchise that sells all sorts of Ampelmann souvenirs and clothing. After my time on the road I just had to have the coffee mug that said Keep on walking…
The Berlin Wall that cut the people from East Germany off from the West is of course a major part of Berlin’s history. It was built in the sixties when Eastern Germany lost a sixth of its complete population due to people fleeing to the West. You can stick history behind glass in a back street museum or you can live it as it is done here, not in the sense of living in the past but living with the past as an integral part of one’s identity. There are Wall memorial sections still around, integrated into the street architecture, art constructions that show where the Wall used to be, memorials for the people who died while trying to escape and information pillars with more information, audio recordings and video clips for the interested.
Andrea lent me a bicycle to get around town with. At first I was a bit nervous. I had not been on a bicycle for about 13 years, and now I was supposed to ride a bike in a city, and on the other side of the street as well! But it was fine and I soon got the hang of it. My knee and my butt reminded me that it was a good idea that I chose to walk through Germany and not to cycle the route but otherwise it was fun to whiz through the traffic on the cycle sections of the street. Yes, they have parts of the streets that are reserved for bicycles. They have traffic lights just for cyclists as well! Imagine trying that in South Africa. There would be more taxis using the cycle lane than bicycles because most bikes would be stolen within a week and the rest would be damaged by the wreckless drivers. Anyway, I had fun exploring Berlin on a bike. Cycling from one attraction to the next, one shop to the other, knowing that the bike would still be there when you get out again. Parking off on the shore of the Spree river amongst many other locals and tourists, watching the boats go by and the ducks and swans waiting for a nibble, eating an ice cream and reading a book. Hmmm, I could get used to this…
Berlin is also the city with the smallest pubs and the largest show stage outside of Las Vegas. I had often heard of the Friedrichstadt Palast and always thought of going there one day. Well, the day came! I was lucky to get one of the last three tickets in the sort of affordable section. It’s not the kind of thing you often do but what the heck, when am I going to get another chance to do it? The staging was truly spectacular. The whole theatre was great. It can take close to 1900 spectators. There were more than 100 artists, singers and dancers on stage. The stage itself had a life of its own with sections coming up, moving down, flying through the air, lighting up and turning around. There where acrobats doing stunts high up in the air, cute dogs doing tricks, girls dancing inside huge water filled lava lamps, singers floating on platforms, drag queens walking on huuuge platform heels, dancers with unbelievable costumes and all sorts of things happening. Sometimes there was so much happening that you did not know where to look. Great fun! Oh, how I missed the time when I was working in the theatre many years ago.
Seeing that I could not walk another section of my route, I stayed in Berlin till Sunday and took a train to Leipzig in the afternoon. In Leipzig I will take part in a six day seminar about body alignment and posture, another skill I can hopefully put to good use when I come back home. So let me sit up straight, and send out my post.