I didn’t sleep well on the plane. By the time I was done with my rubbery lasagne and they turned off the lights, there were only a couple hours left for shut-eye. And, in my sleep-deprived state, I decided to go for a run once I got my things to the apartment. Ouch. The route I took is one I ran several times a week when we lived here, and running it almost ten years later showed me a few changes in the neighborhood, and reminded me how some things seem to stay the same. To wit: some Germans will never get the hang of sunscreen. In their sun-deprived, northern-hemisphere way, they go bake half naked in a park the minute the temps get above 70 degrees. I saw an older man (early 60s) with skin literally like leather, spreading out his towel in the park so he could recline in his Speedo and enjoy the rays.
A big change though was how many runners I saw. Nine years ago I could go weeks without seeing another runner and today the park was filthy with them. Just filthy. Young, old, male, female, with dogs, without dogs, fit, not so fit. It was great.
And then I did some sightseeing. This is the Berliner Dom with the remains of the Palast der Republik–the parliament building of the former GDR that is finally being torn down, amidst some protest.
It appears that a group of private citizens have swayed the city and federal governments to re-build, on the site of the Palast, the former palace of the Hohenzollern kings. It was damaged a bit in WWII and then leveled by the socialist government of the GDR, signaling their break with the monarchist past. Since you need to go back at least that far to find a German history remote enough as to be innocuous, the palace represents an attempt to recreate a Berlin center that sends positive messages about Germany’s history and identity.
Long live capitalism.