May 4th 2017

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loud
····as raincoats—children scootering over streetcar
········rails
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I picked up trinkets and souvenirs for my kids today. Visited Check Point Charlie again (for the souvenirs shops), then headed north. I walked and took streetcars. I’ve always loved streetcars and am gratified that they were kept after unification. The pictures I took today were of store fronts. Thought that would be fun. The former East Berlin neighborhood of Oranienburger Tor reminds me more of the West Berlin I knew as a child thanWest Berlin now.
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The shops are not, by in large, chain stores or high-end fasion shops. They’re more home grown. Everything is being rebuilt, and is still rough around the edges, just as West Berlin used to be twenty and thirty years after the war.
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Look into courtyards and you will see the kinds of places I remember playing in—half finished and rough assortments of rubble, construction materials and improvised hang-outs.
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And as always, the interesting and unexpected art that colors the city around every corner.
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And here’s the thing that I really love about Berlin. It’s not like a city in the American sense. There’s not really a city center where no one lives, where there are only businesses, and into which workers commute. Berlin is really more like a collection of villages. Kietze, I think, is what Berliners call these neighborhoods. The city is lived in. Few buildings are over five or six stories tall. And in many neighborhoods, the first floors are filled with tiny little shops: bistros, cafés, clothing stores, speciality furniture stores, etc…
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For all my praise, there naturally are problems too. There are bicycles that have been stripped. Cars are broken into. The homeless sleep next to banks, under bridges and on the sidewalks. There are streets and neighborhoods that are best avoided and apartments are broken into. There is an increasing anger toward the immigrants who arrived after Merkel’s open door policy. Muslims are either less able or less willing to intigrate than immigrants in America. The treatment of women among Muslim immigrants is especially problematic. Strict religious ideology, if not fundamentalism, conflicts with Europe’s more more open and liberal culture.
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124 May 4th 2017 | bottlecap
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2 responses

    • In my experience, people don’t like strangers conspicuously taking pictures of them. Edit: And they probably wouldn’t like showing up on the world wide web. :) The Europeans are a bit more prickly about their privacy than Americans.

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