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On Being Boring

I moved from London to Brussels with my husband nearly 10 years ago. When I told people we were moving, the news was greeted with bemusement: why did we want to move to a city that was possibly the most boring place on earth? Ten years later and I can honestly say that I've had more fun here than I ever did living in London. It might not be the most exciting city in the world but it is a fantastic place to live. It is full of hidden treasures that you probably never get to see as a tourist: wonderful shops, amazing food, great museums and galleries, beautiful architecture, a forest (yes, a whole forest), and so much more... And if that doesn't convince you, well, get on a train and you could be in Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne or, yes, London in no more than a couple of hours... Which other city can you say that about?

Berlin – day 3 (with lightsabers)

OK, so day 3 started with me spotting this lovely backdrop of red which, as it turns out, was the garden of the North Korean embassy. Hanno waited until I had my camera out and then told Amélie that they’d probably come and shoot us for taking pictures. Amélie is incredibly gullible, thus the rather uncomfortable look on her face and Hanno’s evil, cheeky grin. It may be his way of protesting my constant photo-taking.storyboard-198This is Berlin’s New Synagogue. Amazingly, and in part thanks to one brave soul (local police officer Otto Bellgardt who dispersed a Nazi mob and allowed the fire brigade to extinguish the fire that had been started), it survived Kristallnacht in 1938. Unfortunately, it was then mostly destroyed during the Allied bombing of the Battle of Berlin towards the end of the war. The irony is painful.20151102-GY7C2895 storyboard-194storyboard-196 storyboard-195 And that was the Holocaust Memorial. It is such an amazing place: overwhelming, claustrophobic, disorienting  and scary. The big grey plinths swallow you up as you walk into the centre, towering over you at slightly uneasy angles, blocking your view of the outside world. You feel small, lost, helpless and alone. But what I found most poignant was that you don’t get any inkling of that from the outside. From the outside, it looks simple, unintimidating, regimented perhaps, neat and tidy. In fact, standing on the periphery, you wonder what all the fuss is about… And then you realise: maybe that’s the point. No-one did know. No-one cared to look close enough. You could only know the horror from the inside.
20151102-GY7C2897This was our first time in Berlin so I don’t know if it’s always this beautiful, but autumn sure does suit it. storyboard-19920151102-GY7C2907The Fernsehturm, built by the communists during the Cold War. It was apparently erected at the same time that many churches were being destroyed in a movement against religion and religious symbolism. It stands 368m tall and, when the sun shines on it, a gigantic cross appears on the ball. That wasn’t intended but apparently brought a wry smile to many East Berliners at the time.storyboard-192Have I mentioned (on day 2 perhaps) how spacious Berlin felt. The light and skies were amazing. Proof:storyboard-197On our way back to the hotel… Charlie, who for years, refused to walk anywhere and had to be carried instead, has taken to running everywhere with leaps and jumps and superhero “POW!” “BIFF!” “BANG!” sound effects. It is quite possibly one of the best things ever. On this particular walk, he had recovered an empty water bottle from one of our bags and proceeded to fight evil with it…
20151102-GY7C2950 20151102-GY7C2956As the light caught in the bottle it reminded me of a lightsaber and so… well… I kinda had to didn’t I?20151102-GY7C2956-Edit 20151102-GY7C2957Bonne nuit Berlin!

13 November 2015 - 9:06 PM amanda - Love these, makes me want to go there with M. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! XO

22 November 2015 - 8:55 PM Nancy - A very wonderful post about my home city. And I never read a better description about the holocaust memorial so well. Now I see it with different eyes.

22 November 2015 - 9:00 PM Nancy - PS: Sending my thoughts and love to Brussels, especially these days.

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