Cities that make me happy: Berlin

Well, my happiness project of 2013 is drawing to a close.  I’ve spent the best part of the year doing all the things I love and adore.  So many wonderful people have made this year one to remember yet, for me it has been the places visited, near and far that have gone the best part of the way to making this 2013 such a magical experience.

“What’s your favourite city?” is the common question put to me when I speak of travel and places I have visited.  It’s a question many travellers will grapple with over time and reflection.  There is a clear winner in my eyes.

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Berlin would have to be one of the most historically important cities from recent history. The 3.4 million inhabitants who make up the populous of Berlin now steer the city into a bright future.

Following the end of World War 1, Berlin was proclaimed a republic.  Over the following 70 years Berlin evolved and moved in many directions.  The city became the the heart of the roaring twenties as part of the Wiemar republic, the third largest municipality in the world at the time. In early 1933, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party came to power which lead to the Third Reich and a troublesome 12 year period.  It didn’t end there.

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The Berlin Wall stood from 1961 through to 1989 which in turn divided East and West Germany.  During this period grew a new attitude within that holds firm among the people today.  Berlin is an incredibly efficient and progressive city.  The gritty and  diluted past is still there when you look around the right corners of this colorful city, a reminder of how much has changed in and around the city over the past century.

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On a personal level the musical history is what attracts me most to Berlin.  Some of the greatest music over the decades has been recorded in and around the city.  From the cabaret era of the 1920’s through to the Bowie “trip-tyche” of the late 70’s moving up to U2 recording Achtung Baby in Berlin over the summer of 1989 there is something magical about the musical soundscapes foreigners have recorded in the city.  Claire Waldoff was a local cabaret singer from the 1920’s who’s voice still resonates through the city to this day.  Waldoff is in the same league as another favorite singer of mine from the city, Marlene Dietrich.

Dietrich was the star of Germany’s first talking film, “Blue Angel”, produced in 1930.  Soon after she left for Hollywood, where upon Dietrich became one of the greatest singers and actors of her generation.

Remnants of the Berlin wall inside the National Gallery.

Remnants of the Berlin wall inside the National Gallery.

For the sake of art you are never at a loss with visual delights capturing your attention along almost every road and back street.  The East Side Gallery is truly something to behold, perhaps worth the trip alone?  Inside the art galleries you can watch the history unravel before your very own eyes.  Something that captured my attention in 2010 on my second trip to Berlin  was the Salvador Dali Gallery.  Comprising of his lessor known works and sculptures you are given a perspective that is not always offered when Dali’s work is on show.

Outside the Dali Museum during my second visit to Berlin during 2010.

Outside the Dali Museum during my second visit to Berlin during 2010.

The true beauty of Berlin evolves when you dig beneath the surface.  Underground movements have always been part of the cities life and will continue to be for decades to come.  If you have not been then perhaps the time has come where you look into your first trip.  It won’t be your last……….

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