Tag Archives: vacation

Berlin

Berlin, the city of poets and dreams.  

  Our first stop in Europe was Berlin where friends guided us through the city with the ardor and knowledge only Berliners possess.

Oh, blessed be thy traveler welcomed to the city of dreams by friends.

  From the Mitte District with its famous Alexanderplaz — central starting point — and Nicolai Quarter — oldest part of the city,

to the Reichstag (victim of the 1933 arson blamed on communists and Jews), where today Dem deutschen Volke (the German people) can watch their elected representatives while in session through a glass structure,

to the Brandenburg Gate, location of John Kennedy’s 1963 Ich bin ein Berliner speech, were in 1987 Ronald Reagan said: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,

to what’s left of the wall on the East Side Gallery,

to a boat ride on the Spree River,

to magnificent views from the Television tower,

we made our way through cobblestone streets, past art nouveau and sky scrapers, in a city where tradition and modernity meet at every corner.

  I loved my time in Berlin — the historical feel, the sense of community as people are constantly out and about, the artsy vibe, famous squares.

  If one such square impressed upon me the most, Bebelplatz with its famous Humboldt University, striking architecture, and historical background sure left its mark.

 Here, in May of 1933, Nazi students burned the works of hundreds of authors, journalists, philosophers, and academics. A book-burning memorial marks the Night of Shame event, showing an empty, underground library.

With the words: Against decadence and moral decay, they committed to flames writings of Heinrich Mann, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, August Bebel, and many others.

  Today, a line from Heinrich Heine’s play, Almansor (1821), is engraved on a plaque in the square:

That was only a prelude; where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people. 

  Our last day in Berlin covered a tour of Olympiastadion, where in 1936 Adolf Hitler declared the Olympic games open from a balcony later demolished as to not become a neo-Nazi shrine.

  Looking to showcase the superiority of the Aryan race, Hitler was forced to watch African American athlete Jessie Owens, son of sharecroppers and grandson of slaves, win four gold medals.  

Yes, Berlin is here to remind us of the past. To expose it for what it was, a lunacy.  At the same time, Berlin is a proud city, breaming with life, focused on the future.

  A city of arts. Enlightened. Diverse. Welcoming: its outdoors filled with locals and tourists alike, joining in a togetherness of music, poetry, and the verve for life.

  Does Berlin fully represent Germany? I often hear this question.

  No major city represents a nation. Nor should it. Cities are hubs of culture and arts and finance and trade, operating at large cultural and financial distance.  Cities lead the way.Whether we like it or not, cities are the future.

  We owe much of our progress and prosperity to major international world centers such as Berlin.

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Coronado Island

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Coronado Island, in San Diego, California, is blessed with scenic beauty that has the mind whirl joyful cartwheels of creativity, to paraphrase Jonathan L. Huie. 

It is also blessed with a rich history going back to the seventeenth century when Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino caught sight of a group of islands seventeen miles off the coast of Southern California and named them Las Yslas Coronadas (Crown Islands).  Over the years, Coronado transformed into a place of affluence, the playground for celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Duke of Windsor, and many political figures.

Today, the island is a magnificent getaway with Victorian houses, old-style mansions, and beach bungalows. Although part of San Diego, it maintains a different personality and appearance, like that one family member whose style and characteristics are unlike the rest.

And so our trip began, over Coronado Bridge and into a different world, one of fun, a measure of sophistication, and utter relaxation. Quite the mix.

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over the bridge                    walkway to famous Del Coronado hotel

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Crown Manor, Tudor-style mansion, across from the beach

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Del Coronado has its own vegetable garden

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on the beach, hotel in the background                         sand castle

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play time

As we played on the sand and roamed the narrow streets, all I could think about was the scene of a novel, for the island has it all — beauty and stories and secrets begging to be probed.

Stories about royalty, famous love affairs, and of course, the resident ghost: Kate Morgan, a young woman who checked into the hotel under an alias over the Thanksgiving weekend in 1892, stayed a few nights, and killed herself on the steps of the hotel leading to the ocean. Or so the story goes.

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Kate Morgan

Destinations are novels, and many times I found myself drifting away from a conversation, imagining the possibilities. But stories, like good meals, must simmer in our minds before they are done.

Image: wikipedia; allposters.com