Returning from Berlin

So here I am sitting on a Ryan Air flight from berlin to London. I had a enjoyable time in Berlin with the berliners, but there are some things worth mentioning.

The people of berlin dont seem to see a lot of black people in daily life, and usually stand and stare at me. This woman of around 40 years old sat in a seat opposite me on the U-baun and just stared at me for 2 stops. I honestly dont think she ment it, as I even looked directly into her eyes back. But yeah it was like she wasnt sure what to make of me. Its a little disturbing I guess but no one during the week said anything out of order.

Berliners are so keen to show there over the war and that they still remember it. My goodness its crazy… But even more nuts than the war is the berlin wall. Now I did find that ever so interesting. I did spend 3 hours on Friday looking for the history of berlin near zoo station. Yeah quick side point, because i had a hard time pronoucing the names of stations and places I would usually make up one or call it a english station name. I know the purist out there would be outraged, but hey what can i say? get over it.
Anyway yes, I did go see the wall, well bits that are left over. Its really weird to see it up close and personally because i remember watching people breaking it down in 1988 on my television when i was still young. I even remember some of the pictures from the wall which are still there in part. I cant believe the wall isnt so protected as some of the art work is timeless and should be recorded or kept for archiving. I also saw other parts of the wall and the differences between east and west. Even though the differences are less now a days.

The thing which really hit me was the great architecture of berlin. Even the old run down east berlin flats had something about them. Something quite odd because they were highly practical. Like lego bricks stacked on top of each other. And if you dont believe, check out my mass picture gallary which I'll put up when i got the time this week.
The other funny thing was the ultra modern buildings in central berlin. The west and east played building games to make sure there section was the grandest. And now together, you have a real treat of one of buildings and little complexes of great archtecture. Its almost like every building no matter what must be different and stand out from the others around it. But like London the high rises are few and far between, which means there is loads of sunlight and you can clearly see the sky without obstruction.
Wait till you see some of the buildings i captured on camera. whooo, there beautiful to say the least. Poato platz is amazing, it has a few highrises but there mainly main of glass and use light to highlight the structure of the building. It works really well and you can go up to the top level for only 3.5 euros. Got some fantatstic shots from the D8 building. The thing I love about poato platz is the sony centre which basicly incaves a area the size of Leicester square with a lighen canpony and has all the lecister square style things. 2 cinemas, one a imax, many cafes and resturants and a large home type screen. The difference however is that the whole complex has a few high profile shops and flats. Yes you heard me you can choose to live right there in one of the many purpose built flats. God knows how much it costs but i bet you its about equal to a normal flat in central london in cost.

Anyway forget all that, the reason why i spent a lot of time there was because sony provide free wireless for people visiting the area. They have some kind of Radius server, which you have to register with beforehand. But after that your free to do what you like. And I assure you its a almost perfect to sit with a wireless laptop. Lots of seating, and very good coverage from the 3 well positioned hotspots. I never reached its limit but I got a feeling the radius server will disconnect you if you abuse its bandwidth or if your there most of the day. I also noticed the actual connection you got was fast for simple browsing but very slow for downloading. It would have took 45mins to download a 20meg movie trailer of the new ghost in the shell 2 film, but i gave up after a while.
Interesting enough there wasnt much in the way of free wireless in berlin and trust me I looked around. Most of the domestic ones I picked up were locked with wep, so I could have sat there and cracked after hours. But other that the Tmobile hotspots which you have to pay 3-5 euros per hour for in germany, i didnt get any free wireless. No cafes or bars, which was a real shame.

The people of berlin, otherwise known as berliners. Are a odd group of people. They dont seem to display the same big city tunnel vision as other large capital cities. Another thing is that Berlin certainly doesnt feel all that large and people seem more intune with going from one part to another without question. Say to a london cabbie to go south of the river at night and see how quickly they put there foot the metal. I cant help but think this has something to do with east and west being apart for so long.

Anyway, berlin is for sure a city worth visiting and would seriously consider living in out of all the places I've been in the world. Very european looking but very germany speaking – hehe.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.