Germany - Berlin

MAY 1 - MAY 15

I will remember Berlin for its culture, much of which was shaped by World War II. Not even in two weeks could I get through all the museums, exhibitions, and monuments the city had to offer. My host, Jutta, even graciously took me to a concentration camp just outside of Berlin. The holocaust is of course a very uncomfortable subject for many Germans, especially older ones. Sachsenhausen was full of difficult information to process and proved to be a haunting, sobering experience walking its grounds.

The Berlin Wall is perhaps the most iconic structure of them all, representing Cold War tensions. It was one war into another. Jutta remembers its construction in 1961 when she was 20 years old. Her cousins in the East became separated from the rest of her family and she did not see them again until its fall 24 years ago. On display in front of their home is a sizable chunk of the wall with an American Flag spray painted on it.

What remains of the wall today has been painted by various artists and deemed the "East Side Gallery.


I will also remember Berlin for music as I got to see three orchestral concerts: the Berlin Youth Philharmonic, The Oslo Philmarmonic, and the New York Philharmonic. I could even count a 4th, which was a rooftop concert of Vivaldi's "The Seasons" organized by a young woman whom Jutta and Lutz used to sponsor with violin lessons. They love classical music, which to them reinforces their educated ways and high class. I definitely got my dose of "high class" lessons during my stay. While eating my first breakfast at their residence, complete with china and a white cloth on the lap, I licked a bit of jam off the tip of my knife. "Ah!", Jutta said, pointing her finger at me, "That is very low class". A few minutes later Lutz joined us. I absentmindedly began cradling my coffee cup in my hands. "Never hold your coffee cup like that! It is low class", Lutz said. I sure did learn a lot.

"Dachkonzert", Rooftop concert.

"Dachkonzert", Rooftop concert.

Strict ways aside, I want to be Jutta when I am old. At 73, she is strong as an ox and sharp as a knife mentally. I ask her, what's the secret? "Well, being active and eating healthy obviously, make time for wellness, but as for your mind… Always be learning. Be a student of the world your whole life."