Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Berlin - Day 3 - Celebration Day

This is probably the hardest day of my trip to write about which is why it's taken so long to get to it.   I keep thinking about this day, and what all it means to the city of Berlin, to the country of Germany, and to those of us that spent any time at all growing up there during those years that the wall was up.   When I first realized I was going to be in Berlin for the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Wall Celebration, I was so excited by the idea of going back and just being there to enjoy the celebration, to be a part of history that would take place that night, and to share that experience  with friends that I went to high school with, was just an exciting idea.   For two days prior to this day, we'd spent time traveling around the city, reliving lots of great memories, catching up on stories of our experiences and what living there meant to us... and the more we talked about it, the the more we looked at the balloons lining the path the Berlin Wall had taken, the more I felt myself being impacted again by what that Wall really did to this great city and it's people.  I had flashbacks to the many times I just went down to the Wall and  sat and stared across it, watching people on the east side of the city going about their daily lives, and those emotions I felt back then about how horrible it must have been to live trapped like that.  I mean, in a way were were just as trapped as they were at the time, only we had the option of getting out of the city any time we really wanted.

So yeah.... waking up that morning was different than any other day on my 3 week trip.  I could feel those thoughts and memories bouncing around inside my head most of the day, as a group of us went back to visit old houses and parks from our childhood.  And then we went to  dinner at a place that was high up on the list of my favorite places to eat back then....  even though it was a different restaurant now... still fueled those memories....

After dinner it was time to head down and find a spot somewhere where we could enjoy the festivities, without being crushed by the amazing number of people lining the streets to view the ceremony.   It was amazing to see the number of people there, that had traveled from all over the world, just to witness this in person.
You could feel the excitement as they waited to watch the balloons being released,  and as it got closer to the time... the crowd became  so thick you really didn't have much room to move anymore.  Our group did manage to stay together somehow and we just waited along with everyone else for the show to start.

When the time finally rolled around, you could feel the excitement and anticipation building in the crowd as everyone strained to see Brandenburg gate from where we were standing... just a few hundred yards away.
People were climbing up on bus shelters, lamp posts, street signs.... there were people on top of buildings and looking out of office windows where you could tell they had been having parties throughout the day....

Finally off in the distance you could hear the crowd roar as the first balloons took to the sky.    I have never seen so many cameras and cell phones being held up at once ...  I think every single person standing there was filming or shooting photos ...  think about that... 2 million cameras all going at once.  It was almost mind boggling.
 The crowd around us got really quiet... and you could see balloons being released one-by-one, working their way towards us.... and as each balloon drifted up into the night sky, the cheer of the crowd standing in front of them moved towards us well.... it seemed to be taking forever for them to get to us and then suddenly it was almost like watching a train go by, the balloons being released one after another, rolling past us like a freight train rolling down the tracks.... the crowd roared  right along with them which only added to the effect, but even more unexpected for me at least, was the waves of emotion that washed over me at that same time.

It was almost like watching the wall come down again.... or at least that's the best way I can describe how I felt as I watched the balloons being released and as I watched them disappear into the darkness above.  It was amazing to be there and witness that....  and maybe as crazy as it sounds... feel a lot of old baggage let go for me as well.   I can't even being to explain it....   but Berlin meant so much to me during my life, and always will.   I think I needed to be there to witness that for so many personal reasons.

Okay, so that got to be a bit much.... sorry.  It's the best way I can attempt to describe that night though... and what it felt like to be there.

We knew getting back to the hotel by U-Bahn was going to be next to impossible for at least a few hours so we made our way through the sea of humanity over to the Christmas Market going on at Potsdamer Platz, got some food, some drinks and hung out for a few hours....  it was a great rest of the night for sure. :)

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