“Berlin is a passionate, rebellious, unconventional and extremely liberal city. A survivor of several wars. It is resilient like no other city has shown to be. It bends over, stretches, and transforms itself in a disorganized manner, driven by nobody’s master plan.” Maria Angeles Capellades
There will be no more self-imposed hardships and no more tales of woe. Not, at least, for the next six weeks. We are no longer pedaling with grim determination, struggling with iced over tent poles, or battling cold weather. Sorry, we are comfy and snug in the home of angels.
We have been welcomed into the city of Berlin, and the home of two wonderful people, Maria (a warm and colourful ball of fire from Venezuela) and Ben (a laidback and supremely likeable guy from America). They had stumbled across our blog, and a few emails later we were being picked up from the train station and brought in as one of the family to an early Thanksgiving Feast.
Wow, what a feast it was. Sweet potatoes with carmalised onions, beans with almonds and garlic, turkey for the meat eaters (including a very happy Jack and Paco), mashed potatoes, spinach salad, fresh cranberries, home made apple pie, and lots of red wine. Mmmmm….
Ben and Maria are now trekking in the mountains of Patagonia, leaving us with the run of their beautiful apartment in funky East Berlin while they are away. A perfect chance to explore the city, fix up some bike and equipment problems, write, and update the webpage a bit more often.
But for now, I’ll let Maria take over again, so you can finish her tour of Berlin:
“Many Berliners will tell you that when the Wall came down, already 20 years ago, Berlin became the Wild West, open for grabs. The government couldn’t catch up with what was happening. So for many years, clubs and bars sprouted in the many empty grey buildings of East Berlin. It was heaven. A large number of artists, punks, musicians, hobos, hippies, gypsies, you name it, stormed in and took residence in abandoned apartments. Communities formed around fires in empty lots, some of them still running now housing some 10 to 20 barracks, old rusty mobile homes or tents. There is one just on the other side of the park behind the building where we live.”
“And although now the underground illegal club scene of the 90s is quite over, and has been replaced in part by a snobbish and comfortably numb crowd, Berlin still holds a certain crazy liberal environment like no other city in the world does. And it is this extreme liberalism and tolerance that has provided fertile ground for a new type of culture to emerge. The Berlin culture is about the bizarre and the mundane being mixed together like in a cocktail, one that will soothe your soul and make you feel relaxed, content and happy.”
“Nobody turns their heads around or raises an eyebrow when the girl with the white wig, striped neon-light green pantyhose and black mini-dress bikes with her Rottweiler running by her side down Warschauer Strasse, or when the two men eating Döner by the Turkish shop passionately kiss each other between bites, or when a group of friends gets naked to sunbathe in one of the many parks in the city on a Sunday afternoon, or when the city major, the flamboyant Klaus Wowereit, goes to work wearing bright golden shoes, or even when the stop lights at an intersection do not work and dreadlocked jugglers are performing in the middle of the chaos trying to get a few euros out of the drivers – something that happens in our Frankfurter Tor at least once a week. These things are normal here. And this is why we love Berlin so much.”
For more of Maria and Ben’s writing, travel photos, recipes and information about their 7,000 kilometre TransAmerica bicycle journey, check out http://jamminangels.net