A Laconic Sojourn in Berlin

Recently, I embarked on a three-day whirlwind trip to Berlin, a city that has been a constant in my life since the fall of the Berlin Wall. I watched the wall crumble from my hotel room in London, a young backpacker eager to witness history. A few months later, I was in Berlin, chipping off a piece of the wall, a graffiti-covered fragment that now resides in a box in my Fitzroy apartment.

Berlin Wall, August 1990

Berlin, the city that once stood divided, now thrives on its unique blend of history and modernity. It’s a city that has reinvented itself from its dark past, now a playground of freedom, expression, and creativity. The city’s vibe is a bit rugged on the outside, but dig deep, and you’ll find it unique angle.

Karl Marx Allee in former East Germany (November, 2023). The socialist era mural and the famous TV tower in the background

I’ve visited Berlin many times since, primarily Kreuzberg, immersing myself in the city’s wonderfully liberal and cultured atmosphere. The parties, street parties, clubs, bars, and cafes are a testament to the city’s vibrant spirit. This time, however, I ventured to the outskirts of Berlin to visit my good friend Emu, who lives in a housing cooperative of 250 people, nestled next to a few square kilometres of bushland.

Emu’s home is witness to Berlin’s spirit of community and independence. We spent our days walking in the bushland, soaking in the tranquility that contrasted sharply with the city’s bustling energy. Emu’s pride and joy, a 60-year-old Mercedes Benz fire truck that he tirelessly maintains, took us on a drive through the city, a testament to Berlin’s depth of old and new.

Riding in Emu’s 60 year old fire truck

One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the International Cinema on Karl Marx Allee, a cinema steeped in recent history. We watched Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon”, a film that, much like Berlin, intertwines history in a captivating narrative. The cinema, with its rich history, and the film, with its progressive plot, served as a reminder of Berlin’s past and its continuous evolution.

The International on Karl Marx Allee

Berlin’s history is a tapestry of events that have shaped Europe and the world. From its foundation in the 14th century, to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Berlin has been at the heart of pivotal moments in history and will perhaps continue to do so.

Berlin’s laconic, libertine space and independence are a testament to its resilience and spirit. The city’s vibe, its history at the centre of Europe, and its continuous evolution make it a fascinating city. Whether you’re chipping off a piece of the Berlin Wall or driving through the city in a 60-year-old fire truck, Berlin offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modernity.



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