Can you believe I've been in Paris for a flippin' year? I can't. And maybe it's because spring was so late getting here, but suddenly it's almost May, which means it might as well be summer already. I was sure that I wouldn't have to put away my winter coat at all this year and just planned on hulking beneath it until November, when I would have to pull out my super warm sub-zero winter coat.
This past weekend, I spent a few days in Berlin. While they are even slower to embrace spring there (they get a much more Scandinavian climate in that part of Germany) we were lucky to have a few sunny and slightly warm days to stroll around.
It's an interesting city, and now that I've been I know I could have spent at least a week exploring. The past century has been a traumatic one for the city, and between WWII and the Stasi and the Berlin Wall, it hasn't been the easiest place to call home. Most of the city has been destroyed at some point, so it's now full of new construction. It's still fairly affordable to live there, so unlike Paris, there is a booming artist community right in the center of it all. It's a big, sprawling city, and where the Berlin wall once was is now a string of big, wild parklands.
Pottsdamerplatz. 20 years ago, it was a wasteland between east and west.
The whole city was an interesting mix of new, with memorials and reminders of the past pretty much everywhere.
The Brandenburg gate.
The plaza is now filled with tourist and dancers and musicians. Seeing pictures of what this area looked like in the Soviet era was truly disturbing, as it looked like the center of a war zone standoff.
It was a bit chilly, but there were lots of places to sit out and people-watch. Public drinking is okay here, and there are lots of people out in the parks with a bottle of beer, enjoying a promise of warmth from the sun.
I found a really cute yarn store, completely out of necessity. Thanks to the overzealous security at Orly, my knitting needles were compared to the pictures of "knives and scissors" and promptly removed from my possession. Thanks, EasyJet! My protests got me nowhere. I fly all the time, and it's never an issue. Sometimes, they will peek inside my bag after the x-ray, but for whatever reason this warranted a full on feel-up pat down as well. I was not amused.
A quick google search and I found Handmade Berlin. Not only did they have really awesome coffee, they sympathized with my experience with airport security and hooked me up with some bamboo needles quick like a bunny. Germany seems to be much more into pretty yarns and knitting than the ofttimes acrylic novelties that are ruling the French market right now.
It was surprising at how much construction was going on all over the city. There was barely a picture I was trying to take that I had to move around to get cranes out of the way.
I was overwhelmed by all the fabulous large-scale street art here. It really gave the city a creative vibe.