So there I was, in Berlin for the first time, getting all creeped out by history.
I left one of the shopping streets in Mitte--once an east berlin blight zone, now a hip! artists! district with lots of coffee and Asian food!--and within a few steps, I came upon an old wrought-iron fence, surrounding what looked like a hospital. I don't know if it was the iron or the sooty look of it, but I suddenly thought, "They had a pretty shitty century."
My weekend was like that, and also like my first date with my (Austrian) wife: I kept thinking, "Don't bring up the Nazis, don't bring up the Nazis!" and then of course I brought them up right away. Guess all that horrible shit is still very present, in the air in Berlin, and also in the mind of any arriving rookie.
After living in cozy old Vienna for the last year and a half, Berlin felt much more like a real, big, straight-up City. Like New York, it's ugly-beautiful. The weather was everyday awful--gray and rainy and spiteful--so maybe Berlin is actually ugly-ugly, and I just didn't notice.
On the last day, I checked my bag at the new glass Haupbahnhof. It's a vast pomo palace, more of a shopping mall than a train station. After leaving my stuff there, I wandered around the city for the last time, ate some greasy Turkish food and took fotos.
By the time I got back to the station, the wind had kicked up and the sky was making blue-black threats at everyone down here on Earth. Police were blocking the entrance to the Haupbahnhof: they'd already evacuated it and now I had to give one of them my claim check so he could get my bag for me! Several days before, a wicked storm had knocked a huge steel beam loose from the roof of the place, and now they were afraid it was gonna happen again--so they just shut it down. So much for modern architecture.....
Despite the mobs of fellow travelers made manic by the weather, I made it to my plane easy.
When I got back to Vienna, it looked so cute and calm.....