Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin


“What´s Up Across The River” is a new topic series on this blog created to give vent to a deeply sentimental, long-distance yearning for a place that is like Kreuzberg to us: we love it, we hate it and we cannot leave it try as we might.

It is not, in spite of all appearances, about the borough of Berlin-Friedrichshain. Friedrichshain might be across the river from  Kreuzberg but that´s still not far to the East enough. The series is about the so-called Eastern Neighbour of Bundesrepublik Deutschland with whom until only 68 years ago the said Bundesrepublik used to have, to put it delicately, a rather ambivalent relationship.

Today´s Poland, separated from today´s Germany only by the river Oder, is nothing like the place I was born in: it is undergoing an immense change in both social and economic terms. Just like USSR, GDR or Yugoslavia the country I was born into AD 1972 disappeared forever (which makes “going home” impossible in more than one sense only). These days, every visit leaves me pleased but baffled. And happy to get on the train back to Berlin again.

I profit from the distance I gained: not only because my closest family, my man and my boys, are here in Berlin. Not only because I do not get forced into participating in the numerous national squabbles or because I could wave good-bye to the Kafkaesque institutions of the Polish tax office and the National Insurance Company (in fact, Kafka would not have come with even half of what they are up to daily). And not only because Berlin turned out to be my promised land with all the positive and negative baggage it gives me.

A Romanian proverb says: “Abroad you have a thousand eyes but at home you are blind”. Well, the series is supposed to tell you what my thousand eyes have seen.

Here´s the first glance.

CNN reports about the brilliant Polish street-art works produced by a group of young artists from, among other, the city of Lodz (a text about the city coming on this blog – Hamburg Schanze and Berlin Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, here comes competition!). Bigger than Banksy:-) Please follow the link.

"The Legend of The Giants" by Natalia Rak

“The Legend of The Giants” by Natalia Rak



  1. auntyuta
    November 12, 2013

    “These days, every visit leaves me pleased but baffled. And happy to get on the train back to Berlin again.”

    ” . . . . is nothing like the place I was born in: it is undergoing an immense change . . . . ”

    What an interesting blog this is for me! My father (born 1904) grew up in Lodz, my mother (born 1911) grew up in Leipzig. I grew up for the most part in Berlin (Schöneberg). My husband grew up in Berlin-Kreuzberg. Since 1959 I’ve lived with my husband in Australia. All our children and grandchildren live here too.

    I could say all my visits to Berlin “leave me pleased but baffled and happy to get on the plane back to Australia.”

    I could also say Berlin “is nothing like the place I was born in.”
    Now that I am an outsider I am probably more aware of all the changes in Berlin than someone who has always lived in Berlin.

    As a child I went for several visits to the grandparents in Lodz. I can remember quite a bit about the place. Naturally, whatever you’ll be able to show about Lodz in your coming blogs would be of great interest to me. Looking forward to it very much! :-)

    • notmsparker
      November 12, 2013

      I am working on that Lodz text and catch myself drifting away looking at the pictures I took. What a magic place it is:)

      I know that both of you share mx feeling of merry displacement. It’s as if in a way you left a space behind that I later filled in;-)

  2. auntyuta
    November 13, 2013

    Hi, two years ago I found this blog about a visit to Lodz. Under ‘travelsinpoland’ you find also quite a few blogs about Warsaw. Maybe you want to have a look.


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