15 March 2011

We’re finally back from Germany. We have had a busy, busy, beautiful, bountiful, brilliant bumper week in Bochum, Berlin and …. Warstein. (Sorry, my hometown’s name just doesn’t begin with a “B”. )

I am so excited about having seen Berlin again! The first and only time I had been there was in 1987, a couple of years before the wall came down. This year, I had a reason for going once again, because I had a PhD seminar there. Since the seminar dates coincided with Lucy’s birthday and my children’s birthday is something I would not miss for the world, we decided to all go together. Luckily the kids were on holiday, so I could drag my family along. And they were willing to come! While I had my course, gave a presentation and had to defend whatever I had been planning on doing,  my family were out and about in Berlin. On her birthday, Lucy decided that she wanted to go swimming. Rolf took the children to a beautiful art nouveau pool in Neukölln —  and they had lunch with a magnificent view of Berlin high up on the television tower at the Alexanderplatz. To finish the day in style, she decided not to go to the theatre or the cinema with us, but instead to have a lovely bath in our holiday flat.

Rolf and the children saw quite a bit of Berlin, and included a tasting at the famous ‘Currywurst place’,  Curry 36, into their programme. I got to do some sightseeing on the last day of our stay and I am soooo impressed. Berlin is such a cool city, I could live there. My visit to places like the Alexanderplatz and the Brandenburger Tor were fascinating, because when I got there, I suddenly remembered what it used to look like 23 years ago and I found it  so amazing how beautiful everything has become. Except the Ku’damm in the former West — what in 1987 looked grand to me now looks pretty run down and somehow shabby… very sad. Although Berlin obviously has its fair share of social problems — I noticed a lot of poverty amidst all the grandeur — , I generally found the atmosphere surprisingly vibrant and friendly and a lot less aggressive and depressing than I had anticipated. It also seems that I blended in perfectly, because people felt they could ask me for directions. Luckily, I speak German… so I gave directions, which may have been incorrect (like in Lyon) but  at least they were delivered eloquently (unlike in Lyon 🙂 ).

Another highlight of our stay in Berlin were the two visits we paid  the possum family who live in the Eastern suburbs of Berlin. The possum’s husband is a really old friend of my hero. We had not met as families ever. What can I say? The possum is a very productive blogger and as such, she has managed to blog about our visit before I got round to doing it!! (If you understand German, you can read her account… 🙂 ) But let me just say that we had a very warm welcome, the children bonded instantly and we LOVED the tour of their unique house. Thank you again for your hospitality and all the gorgeous food!!!

And now we’re back in Lyon, it’s grey, I have spent the day  in front of the computer trying to put a publication into a decent format and the children are back at school. The fridge is empty and I am postponing the shopping trip for as long as I can, but I think I have to do it now — it’s almost dinner time…


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