So we just got back from Berlin. We were there for the leadel FLY conference which was super-inspiring. Eitan was actually a speaker and we also got to see all the branding we’d created for the conference up close and personal, which is always exciting. (and as you can see from the picture above, the trip in general was a lot of fun).
Berlin’s an incredible city. One in which 25% of the residents identify themselves as artists and you feel art and creativity everywhere. It’s a city deep in debt. A city with a rough history. A city rebuilding itself. Street art and graffiti on train stations or high up on buildings, scattered throughout all of the neighborhoods add color and character. Flea markets filled with old war memorabilia, or grandmother’s dishes, or messenger bags made from recycled tarps. Old east Berlin areas previously run down and now young and stylish with boutiques, cafes, and bars. Everywhere there was a sense of rebirth, rebuilding, redefining. It’s like the people of Berlin are reinventing their city, and there is a palatable creative energy in the air.
Berlin is different than any other European city I’ve visited. It doesn’t have the rush of people and business buzz of London. It doesn’t have that beautiful people and beautiful buildings feel of Paris. It doesn’t have the historical weight or crazy drivers of Rome. What it does have are open skies, sprawling green parks, and an unpretentiousness that make it welcoming and comfortable. The older buildings are approachable and inviting. The new construction (that is literally everywhere) is contemporary and accessible. Nothing was over-the-top or intimidating. No skyscrapers towering above. Walking around a new city can be disorienting and overwhelming, but in Berlin, my first stroll through the central areas was easy to navigate with wide streets, parks and Platz everywhere, and no mad rush of people.
I could breathe.
I could walk slowly.
All on a weekday morning as the city went about its business.
I immediately liked Berlin. I didn’t expect to, even though I’d heard only great things about it. But I felt it. In just about every place we visited, there was a certain vibe about it. A relaxed and accepting creative atmosphere. I didn’t feel like an outsider, even not speaking the language. Everything felt accessible. And there was something very comforting in that. There was a sense of ‘anything is possible here’. That Berlin can rebuild itself and become something bigger and better – by embracing its cultural history and looking forward to something new.
I have a strong feeling we’ll be back there again.
(Photo credit :: Liza Gordon)