10.09.2007 - 14.09.2007 16 °C
The longer we spend in Berlin the more I am in awe of the ease with which people swap back and forth between German and English. There might be some French and Spanish too. Kids in school have to learn English for about 9 years and also a second language for 5 years. It puts Australians, and English speakers in general, to shame.
Berlin is still a very political centre with political slogans on walls and demonstrations and although The Wall was removed in 1989, it still apparently exists in many people’s minds. It is hard to pinpoint but there is a difference between East and West Berlin. In my opinion, the East still has more older style, uniform, buildings and old apartments. The East still has trams and traditional traffic lights with very cute little red and green men. The West is newer and more modern with bigger, ‘fresher’ buildings.
The German people have a healthy lifestyle with a lot of bicycles, walking, muesli and lovely grainy dark breads. It is easy to almost get run down by the stream of cyclists on the cycle paths that look deceptively like footpaths. (I think Australia might be the only country in the world that has compulsory helmets.)
We visited a weekend market where you could identify certain Germanic traits. Everything was very attractive, well-made and good quality, with a lot of variety, and an emphasis on nature and health. This was equally true for the food, breads, fruit, clothes or jewellery.
Germany has such a long tradition of music and composers (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms) that we could not leave without going to a concert in Berlin. Also Berlin has several concert halls, three opera houses and lots of theatres all in constant use, so no shortage of things to see. The concert house, like many of the buildings, was rebuilt from the ruins after WWII in about the 1980s, and now although the same on the exterior is more modern inside. We had a great view of the orchestra as they played some Russian and French composers.