New Year’s Eve in Berlin – part I
Happy New Year! 2014 has a futuristic ring to it don’t you think? Going along with those futurism vibes I thought it was quite apt that I spend the first few days of 2014 in Berlin – a city with an incredibly promising future. Before I went I kept reading that it was the creative and counter-culture hub of the moment, like New York in the 80s or San Francisco in the 60s. Going along those lines I expected it to be a bit of a diamond in the rough type vibe – with promising artists sitting side by side with less-than-promising junkies and bright bohemian bars alongside squalor.
Instead, I think Berlin is a step above. More trendy hipster than hippie. Put it down to the German proficiency perhaps. Then again the city’s incredible history adds an authenticity and progressive perspective to all of the speakeasy bars and designer clothing stores – particularly in the east. From communism to Comme des Garcon – there’s never been a city where the old travel-writing cliche ‘a city of contrasts’ applies to more than Berlin.
While Berlin is very much of the here and now culturally, there’s something super 80s about the city that I just adored – the red and yellow geometric lines on the U-Bahn, the shiny pastel high-rises that look oh-so-kitsch, the street art that is just about everywhere you look. Despite it’s dark past, Berlin is visually, a very colourful city. In parts it’s very much a European city, with grand boulevards and buildings like you would find Paris. But in others, particularly the east, it reminded me a lot of Japan and Shanghai (incidentally the east of Berlin is home to an incredible number of Asian restaurants as well), with a sky needle, clean lines, quirky boutiques and splashes of colour everywhere.