And so I am back in Berlin and for a good bit of time. I've already blogged my 1985 visit to East Berlin with Kroszner, which remains one of my strongest and most influential memories. I also returned the summer after the Wall fell, and spent about two days walking and driving around the Eastern part, more or less pinching myself to see if it was real. The same people who had been afraid to talk to me five years before suddenly were friendly and open. It felt remarkably like West Germany…and yet not. I don't expect to personally witness a comparable liberation in my lifetime and those days too have stuck with me deeply. For a number of reasons, just stepping foot in Germany is for me an emotional experience.
Twenty years later, I experience Berlin as a normal city for the first time. But I just arrived, so we'll have to see.
It is striking how cheap rents are. I have a two-bedroom apartment, fully furnished, short-term, in a neighborhood comparable in quality to Manhattan's Upper East Side and yet it costs less than many a mediocre place in Fairfax.