Not really, but The Texan and I had a lot of fun repeating that sentence over the past week. Berlin? Is full of trees, and well-behaved dogs off their leashes, and people calmly riding their bikes up and over the sidewalks.
I had never been there, so I was really curious to see how East vs. West Berlin compared (pretty much the same, except we did see some pro-socialism graffiti on the east side. Oh, and the little walk/don't walk figures on the east side wear very cute hats), and to see how the city looked since it got pretty much destroyed during WWII. There was a lot of investment in its infrastructure, which was good, but a lot of the older buildings were completely gone. We spent an afternoon walking around the Schloss Charlottenberg, and nearly all of it had to be rebuilt after the war. They were able to get it back to how it was, largely thanks to the German habit of taking inventory and exhaustively long lists. Part of what had to be rebuilt was their porcelain collection, which "disappeared" after the war. I can guess where.
We were there for the big Germany vs. Turkey game of the Eurocup semifinals. What were you doing that fateful day? Heh. The whole city was gearing up for a party and that morning, my middle-aged female cab driver- pick someone who looks like they would never give a rat's ass about soccer, and that would be her - asked me excitedly if I was going to watch the game. My business meetings ran late, so starting around 6pm on, all I could hear while trying to sit patiently through the end of them were happy fans chanting outside. It was like when you're little and all your friends are outside playing but you have to do chores. Finally, around 7pm, I couldn't take it any more and darted out during a quick break. I picked up The Texan from our hotel and we walked around the Potsdammer Platz, trying to find a place we could eat and watch the game. We ended up at an "American" diner, where our burgers came decorated with little American flags. Aww.
We watched the game on a German TV station, which was refreshingly free of all the crap scrolling across the bottom that American stations seem to think is necessary. Plus they kept cutting to reaction shots of Angela Merkel. She one time clapped when the Turks had a good play, causing everyone around us to snort appreciatively. In the end, while the Turks played better, the Germans won, and half a million Germans filled the street, drunkenly singing "Deutschland" over and over and over....
Oh, and in case there was any confusion as to whether the Cold War is over: you can take your picture in front of Checkpoint Charlie for the low low price of one euro. That is, of course, if you haven't gotten your fill of paraphernalia at the affiliated store next to it.