Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Back to Berlin

We left Dresden this morning to return to Berlin. As you may have inferred from my writing, this trip did not enthrall me like trips of the past. I think there are two reasons for this. Ron is leaving for the States for three weeks shortly after we return home. This is a gray cloud hovering overhead and the other is that he planned too much in too short a time. We have spent a lot of time on trains coming and going.

Berlin is an exciting city, though my best memories are from before the wall came down. There was a tension and excitement of being there and feeling the danger that increased the senses. However, we have been many times since then, because it is full of wonder. This trip, the city was in the last minute stages of preparation for the World Cup. We stayed at a self-catering apartment called Colorfield. When one sees the apartment, it is appropriately named. The colors are charmingly mixed and the bedroom had a huge sumptuous bed.

As we wandered the city, evidence of Football Mania could not go unnoticed. In front of the Brandenburg Gate, there was a giant soccer ball. All of the souvenir shops had soccer memorabilia obliterating the usual Berlin tokens. If one were not a soccer fan, there was no hope in getting a keepsake void of sports.

As pathetic as it may be, there are things American that I long for the longer I am out of the States. A good bagel and a donut are two of them. Berlin has a Dunk’in Donuts and I had to stop. They offer a delicious bagel sandwich that was more than a treat; it was ecstasy for the deprived taste buds. Ron made fun of my need until he saw the sandwich sitting in front of me and then indulged himself.

The one sight that is worth mentioning is the Holocaust Memorial. The last time we were here, it was still in construction. When I first saw the completed creation, I thought it was a waste of space, money, and an insult to the ideals it was meant to honor. A grand square block is filled with rectangular, dark depression moon gray solid blocks of varying heights. They are set in rows that have paths through both horizontally and vertically. The paths are undulating, so as you walk you are rising and descending amongst these massive columns. I set off walking, while Ron took off in another direction. I was ready to continue to criticize this monumental failure as I walked, but something transformed me as I did. With each step of disappearing behind extremely high columns and reappearing with the shorter ones, I gained a sense of walking, wakeful meditation. I felt a peace surround me. Each column then represented a person from the Holocaust each telling their own story as I walked by their life path, sharing with me their tale of sorrow. In some aisles, I was all alone while in others I could see another at a distance, many columns away. I felt a connection with these strangers as we listened to what secrets were being shared. While deep in thought, I heard the sounds of a child running and laughing. My first reaction was to criticize the parents for letting a child play in this honorable space. A moment later, my thinking transposed those thoughts to the sounds of laughter of children who innocently lost their lives for unconscionable reasons through no fault of their own. The child’s hullabaloo then became a song of praise and homage for those young ones who never reached their full potential. I was deeply moved.

We have an early flight tomorrow and return to Budapest by 11:00 am.

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