The symbol of Berlin is the Bear. I must know this because it has been pounded into me by the ever present bear that stands with its hands raised over its head at many, many locations all over Berlin. If you ever are in Berlin, you will NOT miss it. At first you notice one and you think, aww how cute. And then, hey there’s another one across the road outside that hotel. Hey there’s another one in front of that restaurant, gym, supermarket, embassy and they are suddenly annoyingly everywhere.
Eventually, you figure to ask and then you find out the story of the Buddy Bears. It all started with Klaus and Eva Herlitz who decided that Berlin needed a bit of street art. Bears was a safe choice and enlisting the help of artists, the Buddy Bear was born in 2001. About 350 of them were painted in different styles and placed all over the city. Apparently initially the bears were found in other poses but to me there was one clear favourite. After the event, the bears were sold with proceeds going to charity. And the new owners of these bears no doubt placed them in front of their premises.
I don’t know what to think of them. But after a while, I guess they grew on me and it does brighten up the city especially some nondescript government buildings. This goes to show that if you show me something enough times, even though I may be cool to it at first, I am prone to warm to the idea eventually. I think my wife worked this out long ago. Long before I learnt when something says “dry clean only”, you do not put it anywhere near any machine in the laundry. Even holding it close to the tumble dryer will cause it to shrink by two sizes.
And to show you what I mean, we did not leave Berlin without bringing one of them Buddy Bears with us. I held out till the very last minute when we were checking out of the hotel to catch our plane. And then we finally bought one from the hotel lobby.