Berlin and Cologne
We had to be in Cologne on the morning of May 3rd to catch a plane ride. This meant that we had to get from Prague to Cologne via Berlin in 3 days by train -- but there was no way we were going to pass up a visit to the German capital.
I had a much different view of Berlin that what I actually witnessed. I thought, probably as many think, of the Berlin you see in history texts or on a tv documentary -- the Berlin wall, communism, and the rest.
Berlin, I was happy to see, is a beautiful city. We managed to get to our hostel without too much trouble, which is always very nice. Upon arrival, our host wanted to know why my passport was in a plastic case. "Is this to make it waterproof?" "Uh, well really it just for some added protection, I suppose," I said. No one had ever taken as much interest in the plastic cover of my passport as he did. "Are you guys here for the demonstration?" he asked. "Demonstration?" I asked. "Oh yeah, tomorrow is the German -- how do you say -- work day," he said. The next day was May 1st, what he meant was that it was the German Labor Day. For the last 15 years there has been a huge demonstration, which was occuring the next night, a protest against the system.
Berlin we found out, while beautiful, is still a highly charged political center as you might expect. As we charged in our usual pedestrian fashion on Labor Day, we saw the different faces of the city. I took on a different style of photography for the day, instead of taking pictures of the sites as I usually do, I took on a documentary style. We didn't take part in any protest, but really did enjoy the holiday. There are great sites in the city, which is right up to par with modern standards in my opinion. I cannot make any widespread claims, but I am sure some of this is surface deep. This was certianly true of our hostel, which had all the feelings and furnishings of what I imagine an apartment would have looked like prior to WWII. All part of the adventure!
It would have been great to stay longer in Berlin, our host agreed saying, "Berlin in two days?" shaking his head, but we had to get to Cologne and the airport. With just one night in Cologne, we trekked all over, trust me on that one. It was a very different scene in Western Germany after visiting Berlin. I don't know the exact difference, there was one in the architecture, but mostly in the feeling and the people. It didn't feel as industrial or politically charged. Another beautiful city of Europe, Cologne seemed efficient and of course had its own enormous catherderal, The Dom. After a solid 3 hours of sleep we were off to the airport and on the plane.
The Berlin TV tower
Kaiser Whilhelm Church, it had been bombed pretty hard
A different wall in Berlin
No Nazi here
Some more documentary
Feeling political yet, ready for a demonstration?
Cologne & The Dom