Some years ago we took a two week tour with our car of the Island of Sicily, we visited many cities and small towns. None of what we saw corresponded to the image we had seen in films of Sicily or its people. We found a lovely island and nice people, yes they have been scared by the plague of the Mafia but it is certainly not how Hollywood had portrayed it.
Same for Berlin, Capital of a unified Germany from 1870 until 1945 and then again since 1989. Often the Berlin one imagines is what you are presented in movies of the Second World War and of the Nazi Dictatorship 1933-1945 or the divided city of the Cold War, which in movies are largely simplistic commercial stereotypes. Many tourists still visit Berlin today hunting to find sites connected to the Nazi and the infamous wall only to come up empty handed. That was 80 years ago and no longer exist, the Berliners of today were not born then and have memories somewhat different more linked to a divided city and a country finally re-united and free from military occupation.
What I discovered about Berlin in my numerous visits since 1997 is a garden city surrounded by forests, lakes and parks everywhere. Very modern architecture, a stylish lifestyle, good restaurants and a diverse population. Arts, culture, festivals, music, the world comes together in Berlin, a very vibrant and imaginative city.
All that green everywhere, oasis of peace in and around the city and a city of efficient public transportation where a car is not really required.
Brandenburg Gate with its quadriga to Peace, this gate built in 1791 on the order of King Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, marks the Official entrance to Berlin. Ambassadors would come to the gate and would be taken down the avenue Unter den Linden to the Imperial City Palace to meet the Sovereign. The gate is modelled on the gate of the Acropolis in Athens. It faces the large Tiergarten Park. Photo is taken from the roof of the Bundestag (German Parliament) formerly known as Reichstag.
In the background is Potsdamer Platz until 1989 was in no mans land a empty field since 1945, today it has once again become the heart of commercial Berlin.
The new Office of the German Chancellor in Berlin on the Spree River across from the Bundestag. All government architecture is in this style, light, lots of glass emphasis on transparency.
The Tiergarten in central Berlin, a giant park, once a Royal Hunting ground for the Prussian Kings and Princes. It is very pleasant to walk in this vast park.
Pic-nik on the banks of the Spree River in the City.
Berlin at dusk, the large dark area in the centre is the Tiergarten Park.
The Tiergarten looking East
One of the many swimming areas in the City.
Free movie night in central Berlin between the new National Gallery and the Berliner Philharmonie and another beach on the Spree river facing the old Imperial Palace stables.
Bet you did not know that Berlin was so green, so relaxed, so pleasant, so surprising. Not that Old Berlin anymore.