The buildings in Berlin can still afford a touch of animation this week, as winter is just about to take over their facades and soon enough, passers-by will prefer warmth to colour. Because ECLA students hardly know the buildings in the first place, it would be a long stretch to say that the Festival of Lights brought about a different perspective. The event was more of a good reason to get us all on the tram, searching for bits and pieces of the city.
We set out as a group, targeting a list of must-see places. In spite of the preparation, several hours had passed before we came to realize that the more determined we were to catch a glimpse of the event on our own terms, the more difficult it would get. First, we had a good look at the Berliner Dom – patterned like a colourful giraffe. After a short walk, we took the double-decker to Zoologischer Garten, in hope of admiring the light show through the window. The sightseeing turned out to be a real challenge, as the bus was crowded. So, we decided the Funkturm would be our all or nothing destination. Finally there, we bumped into a giant queue, where most of us decided to split up. Those who were patient enough stood in line for an hour and got the chance to see a serpent of light slithering in the air above Berlin.
Somewhat frustrated with the situation, we came up with a new strategy. For a change, we would ask this reluctant Berlin to reveal its buildings to us – no longer a crowd of rushing tourists, but a few patient visitors. So, we walked the streets at 3 a.m., back to the Berliner Dom where the lights were out; then took to the walkway in the middle of the street in Unten den Linden, between rows of trees decorated with neon blue. Brandenburger Tor lit up in pink felt like the end of the world, with a couple of exhausted Berliners resting on the sidewalks.
On our way home, there was hardly anyone around, except for us, meaning that the show was over and it was time for Berlin to turn back into a pumpkin and for us to have a good rest – until next time.
By Clara Sigheti (AY 2007, Romania)