street photography Berlin

Thoughts on Berlin

I think this is my seventh or eighth visit to Berlin, and each time is somehow better than the last. I could probably say that about a lot of places. Maybe it’s just me feeling more and more at ease here. If Porto’s USP is its laid-back atmosphere, beautifully aged architecture, and friendly locals, then Berlin offers me a level of diversity, intensity, and inspiration like no other city in Europe.

Especially here in Mitte, where I can easily spend days just walking around serendipitously and never get bored or tired. The diversity aspect is particularly interesting. Even this time of year (arguably the best time to visit Berlin before the seasonal onslaught of riff-raff), you don’t hear much Deutsch spoken in the German capital.

Today’s excellent lunch at a random classic German pub was served by a Croatian fellow, our pasta dinner was presented by a guy from Austria, and the popcorn we bought on the way home for tonight’s film was sold by a Russian gal.

I spent most of the afternoon buzzing after lunch around the gallery district, observing, absorbing, and admiring paintings, photographs, and installations created by artists from all over the world. Far from all the art I saw today was intriguing. Some of it was downright crap. But most of it grabbed me in one way or another. Which is probably one of the reasons I keep returning to Berlin.

I’m fascinated at how Berlin has managed to maintain its relevance and influence for so long – across two world wars, a brutal occupation, and then 41 years of soul-crushing communism (1949 – 1990).