Ever since I landed in London, everyone and their grandmother has been telling me that I need to visit Berlin. As I have no set itinerary, after my month-long stint in Naples was over I decided to see what all the fuss was about and booked a flight. Luckily enough, my 5 day trip fell on the 25th anniversary of Fall of the Wall and the city was full of events for the celebration. I'm happy to report that everyone was right, Berlin truly is, seriously, awesome.
I stayed at the JetPak Alternative Hostel in Kreuzberg which was the perfect location for just about everything. The hostel was beautifully designed, clean and safe despite having mixed reviews citing "aggressive drug dealers on the corner". That turned out to be a bunch of Nigerian guys asking "you ok?" and offering "African cigarettes" that, when met with a response of "no thanks!" would simply say "ok bye" and leave you alone. Which if you ask me, is actually a polite group of immigrant entrepreneurs committed to customer service and convenience.
All weekend, the city was buzzing with events to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. An obvious symbol for the Iron Curtain that divided Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War, the Berlin Wall existed from 1961 to 1989. 104 miles long, the Wall (along with guards and barbed wire) was used to prevent people from escaping the Eastern Communist half of Berlin. Today, one of the sections that remains is called the "The East Side Gallery" and is covered with ever-evolving murals and street art.
For the 25th Anniversary, 8000 illuminated balloons lined the entire path of the wall and were released into the night sky during the big concert.
The big celebration event was at Brandenburg Gate and consisted of: food stands of delicious curry wurst and Glühwein, impressive projection mapping, live music including Peter Gabriel, a weak fireworks show (the Lincoln July 4th fireworks show would've put it to shame), and speeches from various politicians and public figures that seemed very emotional but I had no idea what they were saying. Plus a lot of German techno music. I can't say I'm fully behind techno yet but after enough Glühwein I'll bop around to just about anything. It was a great night.