Post image for Home Exchange Berlin 2011: Special Events Bringing the World Together

Home Exchange Berlin 2011: Special Events Bringing the World Together

by John Mensinger on December 7, 2011

Berlin is a world class city that on any day will have several special events, exhibitions, or performances. During our month long house swap we encountered many, large and small. With home exchange you are in a place long enough to get to know it, which makes finding special happenings easier. The activities described below, and others, celebrate Berlin’s commitment to multiculturalism and were fun.

Germany hosted the 2011 Women’s World Cup. Only the opening match was played in Berlin. We happened to be on the S-Bahn before that game and encountered thousands of excited fans on their way to the stadium. Germans are usually subtle in their patriotism, but this isn’t true when the national team plays soccer, as you can see from the photo. Although we didn’t attend any World Cup matches in person we enjoyed watching on TV and seeing the signs and decorations around the city.
One of my favorite days in Berlin was spent cycling through the heart of the city. I chanced upon a phalanx of painted bears, each one representing a country. Their job was “promoting tolerance, international understanding and living together in peace and harmony. “ The bear is a symbol of Berlin and is found on their Coat of Arms.

Another day I was admiring the Gendarmenmarkt, a lovely 18th century square flanked by two cathedrals and a concert hall. The Konzerthaus was flying the Turkish national flag, which seemed odd. The posters explained Turkey was being honored with concerts by famous musicians from that country. One evening they were offering two paid concerts, followed by a late night free performance. We opted for the latter. It was sublime listening to jazz in a beautiful hall originally built in 1821. The musicians were Turkish, either from the old country or Germany, their repertoire influenced by their homeland and Europe. Like the bears, their job was promoting tolerance and understanding.
An advantage of home exchange is your partners help you while you are on vacation. Our hosts in Berlin contacted us while they were in our house in California. They alerted us that a Klezmer Band would be playing at a local restaurant. It was 300 meters from our flat; we sat outside, sipping beer, enjoying the music and a warm summer evening. Klezmer was originally created by Ashkenazic Jews of Eastern Europe. Berlin and home exchange promote living together in peace and harmony.

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