Friday, June 29, 2007


Berlin Redux: the deeper significance

Last time, we visited Berlin over two long weekends in May and June of 2005, and fell for the city. This time, our approach is very different.

We've rented an apartment from friends who used to live here, and with the "friend" rental rate, the cost of living here for a month is roughly the same as it would have been for a week in a good hotel.

The idea this time is to dig a little deeper into this city, and to use it as a base for excursions to other destinations in and outside of Germany.

There will be hours of hanging out in cafes, reading, writing, coping with second-hand smoke. Here's what I'll be reading:

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The readily apparent theme is Berlin "noir" in the WWII era. This visit is about soaking up "atmosphere," and perhaps to a large degree the fictional atmosphere of an imagined past. I find myself staring hard at the ubiquitous photographs of pre-War Berlin.

As for the present, not a whole lot to report yet. We arrived 48 hours ago, but I was so slammed by jet lag -- following a sleepless night on the plane and a determination to stay up until 10 p.m. the first night -- that I've been in a fog the whole time. I got out of bed 2:00 p.m. yesterday and 11:00 a.m. today. And I had a headache the whole time, perhaps because I was avoiding coffee in a vain attempt to ward off sleeplessness.

You always hear about people in our country who claim to fly over to Europe for long weekends. How do they do it?

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