WOW HEAT WAVE!!!!! So here is the summer we have all been waiting for, smacking us in the face with 37+ degrees and no wind! So as much as I was filled with the excitement of exploring the city we were also very much slowed down by the intensity of roaming around in the busy streets, but that didn’t stop us from venturing out on our bikes to explore the sites and generally roam around.
I think that I, along with most really appreciated the Holocaust memorial, the stone pillars are striking and powerful in a way that I haven’t experienced before. As Anne had been inside many times she kindly offered to sit with my things so that I could roam free among the stones and really tap into the energy of the place without being influenced by anybody else. It really does provide a very dramatic effect when walking into the stones, the ground beneath your feet drops and the pillars begin to loom higher and higher above your head cutting off any real association to the world outside and you are suddenly lost in the maze! Anne had explained how this is what both the Germans and the Jews must have been feeling, slipping further and further into the unknown, getting lost in the maze of life while never knowing if or when they would find the exit again and if they do what kind of a world would they be returning to. I really kept this in mind while walking around but its sometimes hard as you bump into the throngs of people playing hide and seek or just excitedly shouting wildly at one another as they get separated, all in good spirits tho as we all enjoyed the space in our own different ways. As I emerged from the opposite side I thought it was time to take some pictures so I asked a kindly looking gentleman from Southern Germany who was also alone and we set about taking turns in swapping cameras and poses while I filled him in on why I was there and what we are trying to achieve. He was really touched by my story tho I am sure a lot was lost in translation but I gave him a sticker, wished him a good holiday and I made my way back out to Anne.
Berlin seems to be full of monuments and historical pieces, all grand and beautiful and seemingly linked to the war which also gives them a rather tragic energy I felt but still enjoyable to look at, so we did the rounds and Anne was great at filling me in on their history. There is also a lot of parks in Berlin which are very refreshing when staying in a concrete jungle and especially in such heat so I really enjoyed being introduced to these areas, my favourite of which used to be the old airport and is situated right in the centre of the city and really is a sight to be seen. There is always something going on, whether it be football practice, BBQ’s and frisbee, roller-blading or a group of Jewish musicians enticing the passing crowds to come sit, dance and socialize. This is of course where we navigated to, enjoying the music and people watching until the thunder claps strikes, lightning filled the sky and we jumped aboard our bikes and headed home in the heavy yet refreshing rain.
I haven’t seen lightening quite like this in YEARS!!! At the end of the scorching hot days the sky lit up with huge sheets of forked lightening, releasing all the pent up energy that had been forming! The most impressive display was on Saturday night. Me and Anne had spent some time making me a new, portable flag, ring, lanyard etc to prompt peoples curiosity and then we headed off to a park under the promise of some kind of festival. We didn’t find a festival but a portable DJ and sound system playing to a busy field but next door there was a youth centre having a fund-raising day with many different acts, food etc. We managed to time things just right and sat back to enjoy the end of night fire show, got chatting to the guys behind it all and help with a little clean up. We headed back to Anne and Christians apartment to re-stock and then headed out into the lightening to our final detonation for the night which was an open air party on a large building site. The party was in full swing when we arrived but it took no time at all until we had made some friends, the rain stopped and we danced until the sun came up and we were two of the last ones there before dragging our tired asses back for some well deserved sleep but not for to long as today was flea market day! So after a good but short sleep Christian and I headed off for the flea market and Sunday music sessions in the park next to it, the fence between them also represents where part of the wall used to be. Of course being the sucker that I am for a good bargain had to practice my restraint in the market, but not that well as I bought myself a pair of embroidery decorated boots that I regretted almost instantly when I got home and the reality hit that I had to carry them back to England! I will never learn! Ha We then ventured into the park and enjoyed the large variety of buskers that scattered around playing their hearts out in the afternoon sun, my favourite along with many others were a couple of guys on adapted drum kits. Apparently they are there every week and the crowd loves them, in no time at all a huge group had formed and the dance floor was alive with swirling colours and the air cloudy with dust from our stomping feet. There’s nothing quite like a good dance to finish off an awesome day!
Its hard to cram into a blog all that I experienced in Berlin so I will finish off with my visit to Bike Citizens, a connection I had made while back in Bremen at the same time I met Jens and Tessa. We had been going back and forth trying to arrange a date to meet and finally managed it the day before I left. I met Andreas and his colleagues at their new office by the river, we walked round the corner for lunch and a chat, I then got the pleasure of a guided tour of the area which was fastening. The whole area had and was home to all sorts of funky buildings that had been squats and clubs over the years, but as he walked me along the river bank we came across a really awesome little community called TeepeeLand! This patch of free land had been inhabited by free willed people for years and was well set up with gardens, kitchen area, toilets, communal hang outs etc and held an open door policy for those travelling by but was permanently inhabited by a number of people that no one could specify. Me and Anne returned later and spent some time hanging out and exploring it in more detail. Back in Andreas’s office he told me all about Bike Citizens which is an app they have created for city maps designed specifically for bikes and also their extremely useful smart phone holder to attach to your bike. The concept is brilliant and I happily agreed to help in any way I could by encouraging people to use the app which is free if you manage to cycle at least 100km in the first month of using it which I thought was a great intensive for people to cycle more. Primarily based in Europe I think they have about 150 cities which is only growing with hope of hitting America as well. As they have an online magazine I proposed the idea of entering a story about my trip so contact was made with the leading lady in charge of this area and fingers are crossed tho I would be writing the article myself, hopefully my blogging will have improved my writing skills! After I had said my goodbyes I set off with Anne and we went to check out the East Side Gallery which is part of the Berlin Wall that has been opened up for artists from all over the world to graffiti, there were some really awesome pieces!
Before heading back off again on my bike I packed up my now seemingly larger amount of belongings, made a last dinner for Anne, Christian and myself and sat down with Christian the computer wizard to try and sort out some of my website issues. I have become very aware that people have been struggling to make donations online and that all my hard work of passing out the details and telling my story is resulting in inspired people but not raising any funds. So we decided to add a PayPal account to the donations page but unfortunately they take a large sum for their services which is not idea! He also helped to include a help button and a form of direct contact to me, hopefully people will inform me in the future if they have difficulties and we can resolve them. Christian and Andreas both stressed to me how important it is to get as much publicity as possible so PLEASE, PLEASE encourage your friends and family to sign up to follow my blog and help us make a difference! But for now it is time to jump aboard my bike again and head off into the unknown, next stop Hannover!
Thanks so much Anne, Christian and Berlin for an amazing stay, I WILL BE BACK! 🙂