The Berlin Wall went up in 1961 and came down in 1989. The city was reunited. Ruth & I visited Berlin in 2005. It has been on my mind this week for 2 reasons.
Reason #1. I happened to read about an early Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot) film called Foreign Affair that sounded intriguing. We were lucky enough to find it at Portlandia’s Movie Madness. Foreign Affair was fascinating. As it begins, a team from Washington, DC in flying into post World War II Berlin to check on conditions. On the team is Congresswoman Jean Arthur, who comes into hilarious conflict with Berliner Marlene Dietrich. It was so funny and authentic that I watched it twice. Wilder’s career began in Berlin in the 1920’s when he became a screenwriter. He made many movies in Germany before emigrating to Hollywood in 1933. As the credits of Foreign Affair roll, viewers learn that this movie was mostly shot in Berlin not too long after World War II ended. There are many fascinating shots of the destroyed city below as the plane arrives in the opening scene.
Reason #2. The March, 2015 issue of Travel & Leisure contains an article by Alexandra Marshall about Berlin. It’s actually impossible to avoid articles about Berlin lately. It’s a hot destination. Called “Berlin Grows Up”, Alexandra’s article begins with a description of Berlin as a city of “rakish charms” that is now “Europe’s Bohemian Utopia”.
Ah, memories! My most vivid one about our visit is pushing Ruth around the Jewish Museum in a wheelchair. She had fallen in a museum in Vienna and seriously injured her wrist. Despite the pain, Ruth was unstoppable. She insisted on going with me to see this outstanding museum, one of Europe’s best. We spent most of a day in this Daniel Libeskind masterpiece of a building that has 2 new additions since we were there. It’s now an angular, zig-zag metallic snake with a glass courtyard and academy. My most vivid memory of it is its compellingly presented complete history of Jews in Europe.
Ruth also insisted on going with me on a bus to the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the Reichstag, the Russian War Memorial, etc. On my own I went to East Berlin and was startled to find, 16 years after reunification, exploding affluence–luxury car dealers, specialized museums, upscale shopping centers, etc.; and I went to West Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie that exhibited the Berlin State Museum’s vast collection including Caravaggio, Raphael, Dürer, etc.
In 2005 I could clearly see Berlin’s potential to become a 21st century travel star.