I think a lot of travelers would agree that Berlin’s strength lies in its deeper charm rather than its surface beauty. While we love stunning landscapes and ancient ruins just as much as the next person, it’s the character of a city that really draws us in.
And Berlin? It has character in droves.
The city is a little hipster, a little grunge, a little bit anarchist, and very rough around the edges.
In other words, it’s wonderful.
We recently wandered through a large public park in Kreuzberg, the neighborhood we’re staying in. Reviews online portray it as “a drug dealers paddock” covered in “rotting grass, garbage, and ugly concrete”.
Very colorful descriptions, I’ll admit, but I’d have to disagree. Or perhaps they’re right, and I’m just willing to overlook its more coarse aspects and focus on the beauty?
Görlitzer Park is certainly no Golden Gate or Central Park, but it’s eccentric and unique and has a fascinating history.
The park is the former site of Görlitzer Station, a central train hub built in the 1860s and damaged in bombings during WWII. It remained in use even after the war, but the politics surrounding a Western station operating an Eastern line ultimately sealed its fate.
After the Wall was built in 1961, they tore down most of the bombed-out station and the space was left empty until the 1990s, when it was turned into a park.
A rather ugly park, some would say.
A few of the original(ish) buildings are still standing, and there are some remains of an old underground tunnel.
We visited on a sunny (but freezing!) Wednesday afternoon and found it full of joggers, tiny toddlers bundled against the cold, and dogs fetching balls for their owners. The park is huge, and in addition to the old train buildings there are also plenty of open fields and over-grown trails.
Okay, and there was probably also some drug activity as well… which I think we might have unsuspectingly walked into when we inadvertently caught two young men in one of our photos and they adamantly demanded that we delete it. Like, adamantly.
Which was fine, and once we figured out how to delete the photo they were actually quite chatty! And also very happy to stand behind us so I could take the photo again with no one in it.
Such friendly miscreants.Where the suspected drug exchange had gone down only moments before!
In our travels we’re not seeking perfection or sterility or even traditional beauty.
We just want to get to know a place’s true character, flaws and all.
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