Friday, 25 August 2017

Green cities. Amsterdam and Berlin

That title is a slight pun, since in the recent General Elections in the Netherlands, the Green Party gained the majority in the city of Amsterdam. But apart from that, it is the trees, in all their shimmering variety, that are so striking as one drives into either Amsterdam or Berlin, from one of their airports.
First, Berlin, where I spent a week in August. Interesting weather, I missed the heat wave and arrived to rain, and experienced torrential downpours at the end of my stay. In between, clouds, sun and warm wind; most pleasant. I stayed most of the time on Markgrafendamm and familiarized myself with U and S bahnen and the local buses. One sunny day I explored the nearby Trep Tower Park, with its huge monument to the Soviet heroes (!) who died fighting fascism, we are told by the inscription.
It was a warm Berlin summer day, people licked ice-cream cornets  as they strolled along, children ran and jumped in the pools of sparkling water gushing from the fountains, couples rented small paddle boats and disported (!) themselves on the lake, the huge trees spread dappled shadows on the paths, and the overall feeling was one of happy holidays. Forget briefly the craziness in Barcelona and elsewhere. Mourn and enjoy simultaneously...
Berlin has some of the most magnificent museums in Europe, and I spent some very happy days seeing excellent exhibitions. Unforgettable was the Kathe Kollwitz museum. Learned a lot about Berlin between the two world wars. Understand more...
I took quite a lot of pix of parks and sculptures and will attempt to fly them into my blog, who knows, it might work...

So this is a sculpture Kathe Kollwitz made, one of the few, which is displayed on the top floor of the museum dedicated to her life and work.
A place of memory and hope.

Here in Amsterdam it is sunny and green, the streets are packed with tourists round the centre, but it is easy to find quiet slipways! Many Amsterdammers go on holiday in August but there are also splendid activities such as the travelling "circus" known as The Parade. This is encamped on the grass of one of the green parks on the outskirts of the city, beside the river. It is a collections of small tents in which there are performances and videos and music and dancing while outside long tables stretch out to welcome the hungry. I saw an enthralling performance titled 100 degrees centigrade. Go see if you have time!


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