With my design traveling 710 New Balance red sneakers on and ready to travel we headed out to get coffee in a city proud of it's coffee. (Sadly getting down to my last pair of these amazing shoes Kai/NB!)
We organized our days around coffee and breakfast, and this turned out to be a brilliant strategy, as hip coffee shop = hip neighborhood. And after the caffeine kicked in there was time to check out the amazing deep and intense history of Berlin.
In preparation for his run, Ryan checked out the finish of the Marathon at Brandenburger Tor while some kiddo's warmed up for a short inline skating race. I had never seen a roller blade marathon, but Saturday there was a full roller blade Marathon before the runners on sunday. It was pretty cool honestly, and looked slightly more viable to me, though still rough.
After starting our day at Silo Coffee in Friedrichshain we wandered through the park, and I was reminded of yet another reason I love Europe, and miss calling it home. These people know how to live well. Whether it was a game of bocce, a picnic overlooking fields and then Fernsehturm (Television tower) fly fishing lessons in the park or more dogs living the good life, weekends are taken seriously here. And dogs like well, by the way. Even at fancier, restaurants like Neni, where tourists make up half the guests, dogs sat politely under the table, and throughout the city well behaved dogs ambled alongside owners off leash. I am pretty sure my dog Mia is a Berliner at heart.
The restaurant, Neni Berlin, atop of the achingly cool 25 Hour Hotel has a cool Ace Hotel vibe, but with a uniquely German and Berlin aspect. Be sure to check out the Monkey Bar across the hall after for drinks!
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews is a deeply moving memorial to walk through the 2,711 tomb like columns which wind slightly and vary in height set in the location of a key Nazi administrative site in the 3 million murders.
Looking across the Memorial to the Murdered Jews, into Tiergarten, the memorial bleeds out into the city, into daily life, in an uncomfortable way, intentionally reminding us of the ambiguity of difficult subjects like guilt and innocence. The Memorial has been controversial, one reasons being that it is only dedicated to the Jewish dead, and so further memorials have been created in Berlin to the many other groups murdered in this era, including Catholic, Homosexual and Gypsy.
Here are three boroughs which anyone artistically or architecturally inclined must check out after starting with your day gently with stellar coffee;
Ora in Kreuzberg
Silo Coffee in hip Friedrichshain
the Barn Roastery in Scheunenviertel area of the Mitte
While planning the long weekend in Berlin, my father told me that as a young man he got a visa & went through Checkpoint Charlie, when it was the gateway between wildly disparate worlds. No one knew that he had crossed the Wall, and the East Berlin people he met were desperate and scared, looking to him for money, hope, clothing-anything. He said it was an extraordinary experience and also deeply unnerving.
Walking through Berlin this weekend, finding how much I love this vibrant city and the warm people, knowing my father walked in a moment of its painful past, however briefly, really brought home how recent it all is. And how resilient this city is.