I suppose really the most unusual thing we did at the weekend was not even really in Berlin. On our way south we stopped to go skiing. Yes, skiing, and no, we didn’t suddenly grow some mountains and manage to chill the climate. Rather we stopped at an indoor synthetic skiing hall, which was a new experience for all of us. Assuming K and I don’t get jobs in the meantime, we will be teaching some kiddos to ski in March. Before we do this, though, we needed a refresher on how to ski ourselves- we’ve spent most of the last few years on a snowboard if we have been lucky enough to find some snow.
So K, Mam and I found ourselves on the oddly sludgy synthetic snow inside a massive refrigerator. We quickly realised how different this experience this was from the experience of skiing outside. For me it was the air, windless and not at all fresh, for Mam it was the loud music playing constantly, and for K it was the unusual snow which made us notice that we are spoiled. It was unusually tricky to maintain a good speed and balance in the synthetic snow, which somehow both slowed us down by being sticky and created pools to sink into when there was lots of it. We spent several hours (slowly) getting the lift up and (quickly) coming back gown, taking some breaks to go through technique and teaching methods.
The next morning we headed onward to spend the weekend in Berlin. We were surprised by a wonderfully sunny day, which we made the most of by strolling back and forth along the East Side Gallery. The ‘Gallery’ is the longest remaining (almost completely) intact part of the Berlin wall, which features some of the more famous art and graffiti. Our walk concluded with some time spent in admiration of the old brick bridge, the ‘Oberbaumbrücke’, which reminded me of the red brick and building style of the northern German town of Lübeck. Lübeck is one of this wonderful small tourist attractions and home of the best Marzipan. Ever. Marzipan that actually still tastes like almonds and melts in your mouth…
Quaint northern towns and luxurious treats aside, we also had the chance to view the thought-provoking art installation by Ai Weiwei at the Konzerthaus. The traditional pomp of the classical style architecture became the setting for thousands of bright lifejackets. A statement about the fragility of life, the stunning volume of people travelling across dangerous waters to reach Europe and the search for a safe place to live, the jackets almost seemed to glow with their own light.
In one weekend we saw the celebration of a re-unified Germany, the end of a wall that divided a country and a continent, covered in messages of hope and love. We also saw a modern political statement about the refugee crisis and a reminder that humanity is suffering, that we are failing the people that currently need precisely the human love we expressed only twenty some years ago. Food for thought.