Seeing the wall in Berlin is, as I have written before, a bit disappointing. After all, it’s just a wall. It’s much more impressive as an idea or a symbol than it could ever be as a mere physical divider. (That, however, doesn’t keep people from bringing parts of it all over the world. There’s a chunk of it on the pier in Portland, Maine. No one seems to have any idea why.)
Seeing the areas around the wall, and how the wall transformed the city, and then how the city was transformed again when the wall came down, is much more interesting. That’s why when I was looking for Berlin apartments to rent
I tried to find something in the East Central area, which was once bifurcated by the wall. Now the longest remaining stretch of the wall is there as well, still dividing (well, not really) Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. I found an apartment to rent for a few days in Friedrichshain, which was once part of East Berlin.
The east side is really not that much different than the West. Capitalism moves quickly and thoroughly as it recreates an area, and it’s not like the Berlin Wall fell yesterday. Still, you can see the old Soviet-style apartment complexes on the East side, most of which have been transformed now, and know that it wasn’t that long ago when things were very different. Now the area is filled with every possible form of self-expression and creative rebellion, from street art to tattoos and piercings. It’s a super hip, trendy area, and like all super hip trendy areas, it is quickly being gentrified and filled with stores that want to sell you rebellion in the form of jeans or shoes.
Still I loved walking around that part of Berlin. It’s a great place to explore, wander, and see what has grown up around, because of, and in spite of, the wall.