We are breezing through the German farmlands, making our way back to the capital after an express trip to Braunschweig for a friend’s wedding. Lazy afternoon, a smooth train ride, sunshine sprawled all around, a weekend away couldn’t be more blissful. I stifle a yawn as I browse through the photos we took the previous evening, while hubby has a city map spread in front of him that he is staring at intently in an attempt to draw out a plan for the next day. I want to jump in and take part but the autumn colours outside and the hangover inside from last night’s party distract me well enough.
I snuggle in my shawl, look out the window thinking of the wedding party. It was such a personal, intimate affair that it left my heart all warm and fuzzy by the end of it! The sawing of the wooden log definitely wasn’t the most delicate of wedding rituals, but then it is a German tradition and there wasn’t much left to wonder! The newly weds’ speeches, the montage and all the toasts, both in German & English were endearing and quite movie-like too. The highlight, of course, was dancing and me DJ-ing every now and then, oh, not in the truest sense of the word but if suggesting peppy Hindi numbers to alternate between the German ones counts, then sure I did a good job of it.
I glance at hubby who is now drawing circles, highlighting routes while referring to a handy guide book. He looks very pleased with his map and quips noticing me, “I’ve got it all figured out, Senorita!”. I want to remind him we aren’t in Switzerland but in his defence, the train is the InterContinental express originating in Interlaken. And so, I simply give in.
It is the next day, we step onto the streets of Berlin armed with his mighty plan, lots of water for the walks, but not enough woollen covers we realise within 15minutes of leaving the hotel! Thankfully, the sun is out smiling bright, no matter how deceptive its shine is. We navigate ourselves using trams mostly, some underground tubes and rejoice every time we figure out something about this new city. Public transport is way to go if you want to catch the pulse of any city. There is always a hub station, and a main market, with a cobble-stoned square that’s lined with quaint cafes and quirky restaurants. No wonder we spend a lot of time commuting to-fro and within Hackersher Markt and Alexander Platz, eating, changing for connections, taking a walk through the small alleys, buying souvenirs and of course, hopping coffee shops to beat the cold winds!
I wait with bated breath as we alight the train at the station close to the Berlin Wall East Side Gallery. It is still my favourite part of the city, however gut-wrenching it might be to walk beside it. The sun is setting in slowly, we stop and stand at the embankment overlooking river Spree. It must have witnessed all of the history that screams from this place, taking each beat with it as it continues to calmly flow across the city. Hubby observes the paintings on the wall one by one, so do I; some obscure, some obvious but mostly all fascinating. Before he asks, I inform him how paintings have changed since my last visit, only some have remained the same, few seem quite spoilt, some don’t even fit in thanks to all the vandalism. More importantly, I manage to find words to tell him how I thought it would be the most emotional bit of our visit and how calm & questionably steady I am feeling instead!
We walk the entire stretch of the gallery, and make our way to the train station around the corner. The wind is almost biting cold now, and our noses feel numb. Oh Berlin, I whisper to myself. The last time I was here, it elicited poetry from me. Three years later, I feel a certain part of my life has come a full circle and I learn to let go of it. I learn to look beyond the wall!
What does Berlin mean to you? Do share some of your stories!