Berlin was not what I had expected. My naive approach to travel meant I had some time warped idea of what Berlin was before the wall came down. That image was somewhat intact when I landed at Tegel airport and traveling on the bus in the dark, there was not much I could make out. But when I got off at the bus terminal at Zoological gardens, that old Kodak instamatic photo was totally shredded to be replaced with the new Berlin.

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Right in front of me stood the brightly lit majestic looking Waldorf Astoria (nope that’s not where we stayed). Then to our left a cinema mega complex with giant colorful screen. This was followed by what appears to be a deliciously named shopping complex called Bikini Berlin. Apparently, this name has been preserved from the 50’s when the building was a two tiered structure which reminded the locals of the time of the latest swimwear fad, the Bikini! And then along the whole stretch to our right was the Kaiser Wilhelmina church and the festively decorated Christmas market. If I had switched off my internal GPS for one moment, I would have thought I was in Rodeo drive in LA

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Nevertheless, as we walked along Budapesterstrasse to the Intercontinental Hotel, we could see traces of the older buildings. The ones where someone like myself could put together if given a bag of gray and brown Lego bricks of only one shape and a blindfold. And we also noticed that the streets and pavements are generously wide. Enough for a tank to drive through! So, Berlin is a mixture of new and old as most cities are. But it is certainly an eclectic mix.

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But as one would know, Berlin is still in a midst of a transformation and building cranes here and there attest to that fact. We were well aware of some fine architecture in Berlin and the Reichstag which we were visiting next is one of the more popular examples in Berlin.

 

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