It is the classic example of how as a tourist you do things you never do at home. In Calgary we have often said we should take an afternoon and explore one of our inner city cemeteries. We have even threatened to meet up with friends and do one of the guided tours. But alas, we have never done it.
Early on in our wandering of the streets of Berlin's Kreuzberg district, we discovered what looked like a lovely cemetery. We quickly agreed it would be a great place to flaneur on a nice day when we wanted some solitude from the animated streets and plazas. We also noted there was a charming cafe where we could have a coffee and cake - something that would become a become a daily ritual.
Sure enough, 10 days later on a nice sunny morning, we headed back to the what we eventually figured out was not only a failed vineyard but four cemeteries.
We pretty much had the place to ourselves except for the chirping birds and the occasional cute red squirrel.
The light was amazing as the huge trees had not yet leafed out. It created a heavenly glow on the graves, some of which have been etched by the elements for over 100 years. Others had a lovely green patina from the moist Berlin winters.
I immediately switched the camera to black & white mode to create what I hoped would be some very intense and dramatic images.
Cafe Strauss is a lovely spot to relax, reflect and ponder. I couldn't help but ponder what it must have been like for artists living in Berlin 50 or 100 years ago. I wondered about how cities shape artists and artists shape cities and why are some cities more attractive to artists than others. What makes Berlin so attractive to young artists today? Is it in the city's DNA? Why is Berlin a haven for artist and not Winnipeg, Edmonton or Hamilton?
More Cafe Strauss Info: I Ate My Cake In A German Cemetery
I remember going (being dragged) to cemeteries when I was young to visit the graves of grandparents, but I wonder if anyone does that anymore.
Do cemeteries have any relevance in contemporary life? Compared to previous generations, are we more focused on the future, rather than the past? Are we too focused on the future? What role have cemeteries played in fostering a sense of family, a sense of continuity and a respect for the past?
Berlin makes you think!
While some love to explore the museums and art galleries of Berlin (there are 175 of them) after 18 days I am still fascinated by the everyday life of the streets of Berlin. To me the street seem more authentic less contrived than museums.
And, yes I am definitely going to flaneur Calgary's cemeteries this spring or summer or fall.