I’m behind again. I blog a lot less when it’s not raining…
I took the train from Copenhagen to Berlin where I met my new friend Hannah, who graciously hosted me for three nights on her huge air mattress. How nice to have a whole mattress to myself…and two pillows! Sleeping like a queen.
Berlin is an incredibly interesting city, so I’m going to give it two posts. This one is going to be about Berlin’s artistic side, which I encountered at every turn: graffiti, sculpture, open-air art galleries, live music, and more.
Because I’m bouncing around so quickly between cities, I have been actively seeking out local art everywhere I go. I find this to be a good way to get a sense of a city’s character, its challenges, and its uniqueness, in a short period of time. It was easy to find artwork all over Berlin, and I do feel that I felt the city through these impressions.
In Berlin, everything – everything – is graffiti-ed. A lot of it is really bad graffiti, just black or red drippy letters that don’t mean anything to me or, probably, most people. Storefronts, fences, apartment buildings – even in the nice parts of town – are covered. But some of the graffiti is beautiful, detailed, telling of a deeper artistic culture; often, images are striking, or speak to the city’s tumultuous history or its more recent shift towards unity and peace. And some of it is just cool.
Berlin Wall’s 1.3 km long East Side Gallery
Graffiti around the city
Random encounters with expression
One day in Berlin, Hannah and I biked to a huge, open-air flea market. Just behind the market, we noticed a crowd gathering, and heard music and laughter and cheering. We investigated, and found that hundreds of people had come out to watch, or perform, karaoke on this sunny day in the park. Apparently, this American guy pulls out his amps and boombox every weekend and opens it to public use for several hours. It’s an extremely popular event.
Most of the people singing karaoke were German men over the age of 60. And they were really, really into it.
Another day, Hannah and I went to the King Kong Klub with some of her friends to see Voila! Group perform. This 3-person band is from Prague, and the singer is trained to sound just like Edith Piaf. She sang many Edith Piaf songs, and several original songs she’d written. She was backed by a cello and an accordian. It sounded like Edith Piaf, only with a bit of gypsy flair. It was amazing.
I shot these last few photos on my last day in Berlin while biking around the city.
Berlin, you’re an interesting place.