• Sheryl Gwyther

#9 Berlin ... a city like no other

Already, Berlin has worked its magic upon this traveler ... like it does to most others, I hear. There is so much to love about this city ... its wide open streets and boulevards of plane trees on the verge of changing colour. Monumental building in marble, stone and cement, pockmarked by bullet holes and mortar pounding of wars. The 2,711 grey concrete slabs known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe ... both potent reminders of the city's dark history. And so much more.

And there there's the bread! And pastries! Oh, my, I'm in heaven. Luckily we're walking an average of 15,000 steps a day (so says my Fitbit), although it's still a little confused by the change of hemisphere.

Berlin is also one of the most diverse cities in Europe. Considering how it was in the Nazi era when socialists, Jews, gypsies, intellectuals and gays were squashed under the cruel heel of Hitler's minions, it has come a long way. No where is diversity more obvious nowadays than in the acceptance of the LGBT community.

Berlin is no stranger to acceptance of gay people - diversity in this way has been around since the days of Frederick the Great, back in the 1700s, who was known to be gay.

In his youth, Frederick was more interested in music and philosophy than in the art of war - very different to his authoritarian father, Frederick William I. Young Frederick shared a love of the arts with his best friend, Hans Hermann von Katte, who was also gay. They played the flute together and both lovely poetry.

When Frederick tried to escape the rule of his father and escape to Britain, he and Hans were caught at the border. Frederick faced execution for desertion, but he was pardoned by his father. Then he was forced to watch the official beheading of his 26 year old friend.

Frederick vowed to change how things worked in his country once he came to rule. And he did.

How did I learn about this and so much more intriguing history of Berlin? At yesterday's 3.5 hour Free Walking Tour with our German guide, Lioba. She was fantastic.

More to come, my friends. So much to see and experience in this city of diversity.

#history #Berlin