Stories of this Canadian girl's adventures exploring Europe...join me!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

tiergarten

Won't you walk me through the Tiergarten?
Won't you walk me through it all, darling?
Doesn't matter if it is raining
Won't you walk me through it all?

Even if the sun, it is blazing
Even if the snow, it is raging
All the elements, we must conquer
To get to the other side of town




The lyrics from Rufus Wainwright’s song, ‘Tiergarten’ followed me as I walked through this monumentally huge park, in Berlin last week.

It was Tuesday afternoon and I had decided to bail on my workshops to get a taste of the city by daylight. After a day and a half of interesting seminars, all in German, I was almost brain-dead. It is exhausting to listen for hours and hours to people talking about a subject , whose words you have never heard before in a language other than English. My soon-to-be new boss, Ricky, said I should just go and think about something else for a few hours. So, off I went.

The tiergarten is expansive. I walked and walked. Through long tree-ed alleyways with curved bridges over small, flowing canals, towards the angel-topped siegersäule standing in the middle of one of the largest traffic circles I’ve ever seen (think piccadilly circus or arc de triomphe), on to Schloss Bellevue (castle bellevue, the home of the bumbling, German president….who should absolutely not be mistaken with the German Chancellor…the great Angi) and on down the Street of the 17th of June (yup, that’s it’s name) towards the Brandenburger Tor, leading into the former east… I leisurely made my way eating up every morsel of interesting scenery. Spending hours alone, just walking and soaking up history and the present, is a great opportunity to contemplate your own history and present.

I have suffered shipwreck against your dark brown eyes
I have run aground against your broken down smiles
Believe me when I tell you I have no place to go
But to go where the wild flowers grow and the stone gardens bloom.


Berlin is a city filled with bright lights, cool people, incredible story, new-york-style shopping, crazy places, every-kind-of museum and invitingly-spacious sidewalks. I would almost go so far to say it is the German equivalent to New York City. For a huge nyc fan, it was at least close enough to make me want to go back there again and again.

In the evening I met up with Ricky and another acquaintance who then took us out on the town, in the area of Alexander Platz. We walked through narrow streets and crossed large squares; I kept wanting to stop and ‘be the tourist’, asking questions about what big things happened here, what does that memorial stand for, why are there etchings in the sidewalk all of a sudden? So many stories. So much to soak in. She led us to a bar, which as tourists, Ricky and I would never have found. We were standing outside of ‘White Trash’. What a great name for what was inside.

White trash was filled to the brim with every possible kind of art, décor, light fixture and movie memorabilia you can find. On one wall was a normal, 30 inch, living-room-type TV playing ‘Barbella’, behind the small stage, lined with ragged Persian rugs, was a huge mirror and of to the side a living room lamp and a toy (fake) aquarium, with the fishies all electronically swimming around. It was all so weird and great. In the cellar was a tattoo parlor, on the balconies were cozy tables with candlelight and checkered tablecloths, and in the front room was a crystal chandelier hanging over the wooden tables.

The band which soon after began to play (two guys from the States) randomly jumped onto the banisters in the middle of a song, vigorously clapping their hands. At one point, the singer lit the tip of his cello on fire, creating the dramatic, heated atmosphere for that particular song. We chose our food from a menu of photocopied parts of other menus, with selections like the ‘moses hell-fire bbq burger’ or ‘gay French farmers smokey split-pea soup’. With cheesy, old-time, country rock playing in the backgroup during the band’s breaks, we drank beer and ate burgers and had a totally great time.

A few days later, I again found myself alone and walking. This time I wandered through the Helmut Newton Museum of Photography. What incredible photos he took; of beautiful people in very strange places. Raw polaroids of naked people, ‘headless’ women lying on a pristine beach, weird and wild, gorgeous and crazy. He came from Berlin and even though he worked all over the world and lived in the U.S., his photos fit perfectly in this city. The art inspired me. The work motivated me. I left feeling full of creativity and excitement for my future.

Won't you walk me through the Tiergarten?
Won't you walk me through it all, darling?
Doesn't matter if it is raining,
We'll get to the other side of town.
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