Imagine arriving at the main train station in Berlin at 10:30 pm on a cold Sunday night in October, carrying 150lbs of luggage up a dark street--in an attempt to get away from the "panhandlers" hanging around the outside of the train station--with no reservations, no idea of where you're going, and no indications that anything is open within ten miles of your position. Then, imagine fortuitously stumbling upon a hotel with an extraordinarily helpful manager who is happy to get you into a charming 19th century room overlooking a large courtyard with a huge tree in the center, a state-of-the-art 22nd century German bathroom, and a first class Fruhstuck, right next door to a wunderbar gourmet restaurant with typically friendly Germans, where the only problem is having to wait the required-in-Berlin seven minutes for your glasses of beer to be poured!!!!!! Talk about arriving! Well, this is just what we experienced as free spirit EURAILTravelers!
For our good fortune we want to thank God and the great people we met at the Hotel Consul and Die Theatre Klause restaurant!!!!!! Both are located on Knesebeckstraße, just off Hardenbergerstraße about one-half mile nw of the Zoo bahnhof and right around the corner from the Ernst Reuter Platz U-Bahn station! Rosalinde's is another superb restaurant. Oh, and by the way, these establishments are relatively inexpensive.
Why is Berlin so compelling? It was here that the Kaiser announced the end of the 19th Century to a large cheering crowd. It was here that the Chancellor announced the end of the 20th Century to a small silent crowd. It was here that Gotterdammerung prophesied Armageddon. It was here that the 21st century was born! Here one is compelled to commune with ashes residing beneath Walhall's marble. Here the future has buried the past under the new age. Here one must come without quite knowing why.
I do know that I felt an innate desire to breathe the same air as JFK when he threw down the gauntlet with the immortal phrase "I am a jelly donut" (everyone knew what he meant) and Beverly seemed to have difficulty imagining Berlin without a Wall. We were not disappointed. In this neu Berlin there is an easily discernable air, atmosphere, cockiness, attitude, mood, energy, spirit that I have not felt since the early sixties when we were so very exuberant about the future and our role in it! Visit the Potsdamer Platz livecam link; here one can view a victorious Blitzkrieg against the barren scar of hot and cold war that once seemed invincible. The young fellow providing info to Auslanders at the Europe Center maintained that the mound of earth behind 77 Wilhelmstr at Vossstr was a myth. Soon a Panzer Korps of heavy equipment may insure that the German future at last conquers the Soviet past. Here iconoclasts will swing at nothingness. Perhaps the spirit of Camelot has invaded Deutschland.
We were at the ocean when the wall fell in 1989. Beverly was entranced with the possibility of a united Berlin. The "experts" were saying that unification was many years away because of forty-five years of socioeconomic differentiation. I, however, predicted then and there, upon seeing easterners and westerners clasping hands and singing "Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles," (a song originally commemorating the unification of the German states under Bismark) that the spirit of Soviet communism had not defeated the spirit of German nationalism. On the S-Bahn north to Oranienburg we passed the remains of the wall being casually used as construction fill! We didn't find the SS castle but we did find a beautiful, new school of the West packed with first-time voters (it was a national election day) right next to the decaying old Bahnhof of the East. We also found the most delightful biergarten in Germany. If you want to drink beer with the locals....