Walking the streets of Berlin leads you to one historic site after another. You find remains of the Berlin Wall, which once divided the city in two and separated families and friends for more than 20 years. You’ll see the Siegessäule (column of victory), which was raised after one of Germans many conflicts with their neighbors, and you will walk by the Gedächtniskirche which has only half a roof, a reminder that it was bombed during World War II.
It seems as if the city itself insists on making history impossible to escape. As a visitor, I always find it overwhelming that you can’t go anywhere without being reminded of terrible things that once took place in that city.
However, 3.5 million Germans who inhabit Berlin have agreed on making their city something more than a memorial of the past. Berlin sparkles with life as of today: new cinemas where movies are only shown in 3D, music concerts with upcoming international bands, conceptual restaurants where you eat in total darkness or only eat raw food. Berlin is definitely one of the top destinations to visit if you want to have a finger on the pulse of tomorrow’s tendencies. People in Berlin dress, live and eat extremely progressively.
Even the hippest Berliners haven’t left history entirely behind them. As a matter of fact, nostalgia is rather trendy in Berlin. One of the places you can experience it is at Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain where there’s a market each Sunday. Only old and historic paraphernalia is for sale here. Old phones that don’t work are made interesting by ‘Property of the State’ etched into the bottom, there are black and white photos of how the Wall looked when it was still standing, and coins that are no longer worth anything lie side by side with postcards and school books describing bygone eras.
The sellers are as passionate as the buyers and more than once have I overheard bargains over prices transform into nostalgic reminisces. They let themselves get caught up, before pulling themselves together. They know they can’t dwell too much on the past.
But next Sunday is a new opportunity to dwell. Just a bit.