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The character of Berlin

The amphitheater in Mauer Park where people congregated and played their music on boom boxes or other devices.

When I got to Berlin, I quickly felt at home. Seriously, Berlin is a lot like Portland. First of all, it’s very green. There are many parks, and trees grow throughout the city. I’m sure if I had stood on a hill overlooking the city from one side, I would have seen more greenery than buildings.

Second, there was plenty of mass transit and bicycling. I never really asked if bicycling is as risky there as it is in Portland. I never saw any shrines to people hit and killed while riding a bike. I hope it is much safer to bike there than in Portland, but you never know. I think once we talked about newer taxi drivers being less used handling bicycle traffic and the occasional accident with a taxi, but other than that, I think it’s safer.

My friend lived near Mauer Park (Wall Park). It was nice to have a sizable park nearby. I sometimes bought a pastry and went to the park to eat it in the mornings. It had the typical feel. Early morning athletes ran or otherwise exercised. The lunch crowd strolled in and out during the afternoon and as the sun set, the younger crowd showed up with music playing (often techno music) and wearing their too-cool-for-school clothes.

Streetcar and bicycling in Berlin.

It was easy to find places to eat and bars to drink at. That also seemed like Portland. I think there were a lot of live music bars as well, but we only went to one while I was there. It felt like a city but one that didn’t overwhelm you.

East vs west was more subtle although noticeable if you paid attention. The outside of buildings were mostly similar, but if you went inside, you could notice differences. My friend’s apartment building that had been built in East Berlin had odd angles to the room, like it was a kind of trapezoid or just an odd polygon. Walk signs were also different between West and East Berlin. In the East, the walk signs had carefully cut silhouettes of a man for walking and stopping. In the West, they had dot-matrix, stick figures for both. There was even a public outcry when the city considered standardizing the lights, so all of them were like the West. It became a thing and now you can buy Ampelmann (traffic light man) tourist items.

Not like Portland, there are water pipes that keep the city from flooding I hear. Apparently the land is quite swampy there, so pumping out water allows for more ground construction (like tunnels). You can see the water pipes closer to the Spree river in some of the plaza areas. So, it is wet like Portland.

This is part of the Spree river. You can see the blue water pipes that pump out excess water from the land.

A section of Berlin showing older building construction preserved.

A shot of more modern Berlin in downtown.

The Ampelmann walk light found only on former East Berlin streets.

Here is one of several Ampelmann tourist stores.

A busker playing music and wearing a horse head and back pack. What isn’t Portland about this? Oh yeah. It’s in Berlin.

I think someone else from Portland moved to Berlin and brought their car.

Enough said.

Hah! I get it.

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