9 November 2009

Berlin - Die Mauer ist weg!

Berlin Cycle Chic
Twenty years today I was out surfing. The waves weren't particularly thrilling that day. I was living in Gold Coast, Australia at the time. The only reason I can remember what I was doing that day and can remember crappy swells is because when I returned to the youth hostel I was living at, a German couple - friends of mine - were glued to the television and signalled for me to hurry over and sit down.
Girls on Bikes - Berlin Interlude
The Berlin Wall had fallen and the streets of the city were filled with people witnessing this monumental event.
Girls on Bikes - Berlin Interlude
We sat in front of the television, sipping beer and talking in low, reverent tones as the images unfolded before us. Wishing we were there but hypnotised by witnessing it on BBC World.

Berlin Cycle Chic Girls on Bikes - Berlin Interlude
A few photos of Berlin Cycle Chic are hardly monumental enough to match that day 20 years ago, but it's my own humble way of saluting the city.

Die Mauer ist weg!


Klaus Mohn said...

Berlin Cycle Chic is a paradox: it's an amazing city loaded with gorgeous people, but I can't say I've ever seen a pretty bike there.

Ryan said...

I was 3 when the wall came down, so I have no memories of the event.

I did watch a documentary on CBC Friday night on how life was for a few different people originally from East Berlin, now living on the West side.
Quite interesting and they all were quite chic looking while riding their bikes through Berlin!

Brent said...

In July of 1989, I went through Checkpoint Charlie, where I encountered the most intense scrutiny of people and things I had ever seen. When my passport disappeared into a basket, and the mirrors went under our bus, I had serious doubts that the wall would fall in my lifetime. So much for that! Six months later, it was all over, and to so much joy.

I had dinner Saturday night in San Francisco with a friend, an east Berliner, who spoke of her relatively happy childhood under communist rule. (She was 13 in 1989.) She said it actually turned out relatively good for her. She got a great education as a child, and now as an adult can do the things her parents couldn't for so many years.

We still have one more wall left over, the one that separates the two Koreas. I had the chance to visit the DMZ about a month ago. It too seems to be crumbling, but slowly, and one can only hope that its final collapse will come soon enough.

Mikael said...

only one wall left? the israelis are building theirs like crazy.

Brent said...

Ah...good point. I should have qualified: left over from the events directly proceeding out of World War II.

courtney said...


Sorry to find out that you're no longer in California. Would you recommend anyone you might know in SF who knows the whole Euro bike urbanism like you do. We're having a forum on rapid transformation to a low carbon society. Good luck here in the US. We're a lost cause.

The collapsing dollar may be the only way to tame the petrol addiction. We'll be priced out.

Courtney Miller
Architect living carfree in Oakland, CA

chris said...

I was a foreign exchange student in Manchester, UK at the time. Many of the English students skipped class for a week and went to Berlin to experience the euphoria first hand. I had to choose between saving money to fly home for Christmas or go with them. I did have a nice holiday back home but wish I would have gone with my English friends.

Xander N' Dante said...

What a way to recall your memories and life experiences based on a specific date.

yesterday is todays candy.

thanks for sharing

lagatta à montréal said...

Thanks for this. Yes, alas, there are several new walls against people. The Israeli wall is perhaps the most notorious, but there are also impressive walls at Ceuta against Africans and along the Rio Bravo/Rio Grande against Mexicans and Central Americans. Others include the wall between Zimbabwe and South Africa - obviously everyone is trying to flee Zimbabwe - and between part of India and Bangladesh.

No pretty bikes in Berlin, Klaus? What a pity. Do see some nice ones in these pics.