Between East and West

It is hard to forget about the division between East and West, especially around 9th November, when Berliners celebrate the opening of the borders and, respectively, the Fall of the Wall in 1989.

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Berlin Wall became the physical symbol of the Iron Curtain and even if nowadays the idea of the Cold War division within one city sounds so abstract, it was a painful reality for many Berliners for over 28 years.

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Today the Wall can be seen from many perspectives: you can learn interesting facts and stories visiting the Berlin Wall Memorial (free admission!), Topographie des Terrors, Checkpoint Charlie, or East Side Gallery – where all the featured photos were taken.

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East Side Gallery, the longest remaining fragment of the wall, today sets the border between the multicultural neighbourhoods of Friedrichshein and Kreuzberg. East Side Galler hosts some great graffitis, mostly related to politics and history. It reminds us there are still many walls on this planet to be tear down…

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Another interesting perspective on the history of the Berlin Wall was presented in a Polish documentary film called “Rabbit a la Berlin”, telling the story of the division and “no man’s land” or “Death stripe” from rabbits’ perspective. It is based on real happenings, as during years, rabbits found a perfect place to live in between the Berlin Wall.

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Nowadays the Wall is long gone, but according to the latest HR research on salaries, Berlin still stands out as the poorest city in Germany. Salaries in Berlin can be up to 25% lower than in other cities. Interesting, as it’s been long enough as well to give Berlin the unofficial name of ‘Silicon Allee’ – innovative IT start ups’ capital.

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‘Poor but sexy’ is no longer an excuse, as the cost of living grows unproportionally to the abovementioned salaries. We can see then, how much time it takes for a city to recover after such terrifying events and decisions.

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However, as this year Germany celebrated 25 years from the unification, I hope this is a good moment for everyone to contemplate the history and its outcomes. I am proud to be living in Berlin, a capital which is maybe still very imperfect, but giving room for people with different backgrounds and ideas. Otherwise, it would still be so grey.

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Summer in the city or: my top 5 outdoor destinations around the Berliner Ring

Since I arrived, I have heard ‘just wait for it, summer in Berlin is truly magic’. It seems like everyone’s setting up in parks for BBQs, biking all day long, kayaking or dancing the night away (and day anyway) in the open airs. All of the sudden you discover so many great spots for the nature lovers all over the Berliner Ring and get almost the holiday-like feeling stil staying within the city limits. Let me share with you some pics and impressions about my top 5 fave ones as for June 2015. Disclaimer: some photos were taken earlier in the spring, hence the trees are still not looking as spectacular as for now!

1. Pankow & its surroundings.

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It’s not an exact place, it’s a neighbourhood. There is a cute cycling path that leads from Pankow to Barnim region (i.e. Bernau and its wonderful lakes) or even, for the most triathlon-loving ones, all the way up to Copenhagen! For those that want to spend time in parks, feeding ducks and goats, and take a breathe in the green surroundings and still staying in the city’s limits, I fully recommend the short trail around Panke river, being also a part of Berlin’s Mauerweg. You will see a lot of interesting reinvented buildings. Perfect combination of how urban and post-urban landscape could look like.

2. Tempelhofer Feld.


 The biggest empty spot in the city’s map as for 2015. Not sure if this will last for much longer (?), so enjoy the empty runway, and green grass surrounding it. Perfect for cycling, skating, wind-skating, sun-bathing, BBQs and what-not.

3. Potsdam & Babelsberg.

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Needless to say, the royal town, situated only 30 minutes away from Berlin is a must for the history-loving people or the ones that love to discover the beauty of the past (which got already destroyed in the WWII). An interesting spot nearby would be Babelsberg park, where the citadel locations for Tarantino’s ‘Inglorious Basterds’ and many more were set. Definitely deserves a separate post, coming up soon!

4. Rummelsburg.

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If you’re tired of hanging around Friedrichshein’s bar and clubs (my fave party Kiez around Ostkreuz), you can follow the path on the northern side of Spree till you reach the Rummelsburg lake. Post-industrial architecture interchanged with  endless green spots makes it a perfect location for a Sunday Open Air.

5. Along the Spree and Spreepark.

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    On the other side of the Spree river, the magic still happens but you need to be quick to still spot it. One of the best abandoned  locations, Spree Park is about to disappear from Berlin’s map. Make sure you hear the abandoned wheel still spinning, notice dinosaurs, rainbow cats and GDR-era toys. A very interesting documentary about Spree Park’s history will be screened on 29th June in the Freiluft Kino on the Spree nearby.

Home is where… ever!

Not easy to start all over again, but here I am: new job, new place, new friends, new city, new country and last, but not least: new language. Much as difficult the process of adjusting is, it is also extremely exciting. It’s been a month since I relocated, and I am happy to announce: I will be shortly moving in to a new flat! In Berlin, aka: Silicon Allee, the Silicon Valley of Europe.

My colleagues and local friends have been very supportive in the whole process of tedious searches, interviews and screenings (yes!) before getting myself to sign a tenancy agreement. Some of them – expats like myself, some of them – German but from another parts of the country went through exactly the same process a while ago. The Berliner community has been also helpful in terms of finding furniture for free or for bargain prices. So this piece of writing will probably start off for good as soon as I will unpack my last suitcase.

Berlin is not only about the history, culture and urban landscape. It is mostly about its people and their creativity/productivity even in a very casual, almost laidback context. Let me share its highlights as time moves along.