How Berlin celebrated Germany’s Unity Day

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Chilling in front of the Berliner Dom

Ever since I moved to Berlin, I feel as if everyday is a vacation day. Maybe it has something to do with all the tourists, though there were more tourists in London and I hardly ever got this feeling. Well, if this is how relaxed this city is during a working days, imagine how it must look like during a national holiday. If you add some sun, then you get one amazing day. This is how 3rd of October, the day of German Unity, was.

You walk around the city centre and you hear all languages spoken around you. There are interesting street musicians at every corner and you can’t help not to stop for a moment and listen to them and leave them a token of your appreciation, be it some change, cheers, a smile or a few words. The people are all relaxed and will joke with you out of the blue or, if you speak English, will ask you to act as an German-English interpreter (this actually happened to me as I was standing and watching a band performing on the stage set up at Alexanderplatz).

Musicians at Alex

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Music from another age

Every piece of lawn in the city will be filled with people simply sitting on the grass or having a small picnic or sunbathing on deck chairs. I have even seen two guys who were sitting at a table and working on their computers right on the meadow in front of the Bundestag. I couldn’t help but wonder how they brought the table along and why they chose this spot that is so densely populated with tourists. Further down the road from Bundestag, a tower with bells was playing classical and more modern instrumental music as can be heard here.

A major boulevard, the 13 Juni was closed down for the festivities which would last 5 days, so that, to my great joy, I got to walk on the street. It took a while to cross the street and get back to the Brandenburg Gate in order to watch the concert taking place there: a group of very lovable sexagenarians was playing  with all their might German and English songs (they played some Johnny Cash as can be seen here and closed the show with Westlife’s You raise me up).

The crowds were huge, but to my surprise very organized, on the right side of the street people were going in one direction, on the other side in the other direction. People traffic at its best. There were some queues in front of the many food stalls which sold German dishes, but not only.

In front of the gate, more than on usual weekdays, there were many groups of people who were taking pictures, cheering, singing or peacefully protesting. My favourite protester so far is most definitely a man who was riding a vintage bicycle, to which he had attached some speakers that were playing music from silent films and on a board he had written: “Ausländer sind anders behandlet. Warum?” (Foreigners are treated differently. Why is this?).

On one of these days in spite of the many things one can see and hear and all the excitement, time seems to have slowed down, taken a break and went out to enjoy a bit of sun, maybe the last drops of warmth of this year in Berlin.

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4 thoughts on “How Berlin celebrated Germany’s Unity Day

  1. Hey Adina – – Great post. You can really tell that you’re enjoying life in Berlin and the atmosphere almost exudes from the page with your enthusiastic and descriptive writing. I had the privilege of coming to Berlin for a few weeks in 2010 and staying with some friends who live in Lichterfelder West. We had a fantastic time and could also see how alive and interesting Berlin is, as we’d been proudly told by our friends. I can’t wait to return and return I will. With my German learning, I have plans to come back to Germany and Berlin often for some immersion and to soak up life in Germany. Next year I plan to come for 6-8 weeks and, who knows, I may move there for a year or so later on! Keep enjoying life there and writing about it for us! Thanks… Erik in Sydney!

    • Thank you, Erik! I’m glad you liked the post. It truly was a gorgeous day and the atmosphere was perfect. It was also perfect timing, because the next day the weather changed for the worse. You should definitely come stay in Berlin for a longer period, but I would recommend you do this in spring or summer, when it’s not so cold or rainy. The city is great: it’s international, cheap, there’s so much to see and do, you find almost anything here. Take care, Erik!

      • Hi Adina… Yes, I really am planning a couple of months in Berlin and Germany next year. Ideally in summer, but probably more around this time of year as it coincides with my wife and I visiting my father in-law in the U.K. He’s 91 years old! I can’t wait to immerse myself in German and will be working hard in the next 10-11 months to get my conversational German skills greatly improved so that I can really ramp it up by speaking German 90%+ of the time! Cheers… Erik

  2. The autumn in Berlin and I suppose in most of Germany can also be lovely- unless it rains. The same goes for the UK. Don’t worry too much about your German, you’ll see that after 1-2 beers everything will go very smoothly, conversation-wise.

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