Berlin. In a word, amazing. I did more in Berlin than I could easily describe in this post, so I’ll hit the highlights here. Attending a concert by the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester at Konzerthaus Berlin, one of the best concert halls in the world (according to Business Insider), was probably the highlight of my stay. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience (one that was rather more expensive than I would’ve liked), and was made even better since I hadn’t been able to see a concert in well over a year. In second, the incredible pastries. If Berlin had nothing else (and they certainly had more than just this), they had great, and I mean great, baked goods. Certainly the most unique sweet I had while in Berlin were vegan donuts (S/o to Brammibal’s donuts). Yes, they were fantastic. And in third, the view of Berlin at sunset from the Victory Tower was the best view I got the entire weekend (which can be seen on the background of the website). It overlooked the Tiergarten towards the Brandenburger Tor and the TV tower; it was quintessentially Berlin.
The thing that has stuck with me about Berlin, more than any of the great experiences, was its identity. The effects of the 20th century, particularly the impact of WW2 and the division of Berlin between east and west, can be seen and felt everywhere. There are solemn, contemplative monuments to the victims of Nazi aggression, a clear and frequent recognition of the crimes of the past. The monuments themselves are not what stick in my memory; rather, it’s the mindset that seems to result from them. Berlin refuses to be defined by its past. At the memorials to the Berlin Wall, the focus is on the efforts to rebuild and reunify Berlin. The memorials to the victims of Nazi terror facilitate remembrance, while acting as to forge a new path, one separate from that of the past. Berlin as a city looks towards the future more than the past; the city is a testament to the capacity of a nation to rebuild their society into something new and different from the past. The city seems hopeful and inspiring. I can say that visiting Berlin has been the most enjoyable trip of my European tour yet.