My first take…

WhatsApp Image 2020-10-04 at 17.14.56

Walls play a significant part in our lives…

Pink Floyd’s famous wall needed another brick.

The last election to become the President of the United States of America hinged on a wall that doesn’t even exist.

China has a great wall that can be seen from space (apparently).

And Berlin is defined by a wall that was knocked down exactly 31 years ago and is where I write this post.

Nikki and I are in the German capital because France is closed.

Sometime last year at a charity ball for childhood leukaemia, I bought a two night stay in Paris which since then, has twice been cancelled due to Covid and so a two day jaunt to Berlin is very welcome as a belated wedding anniversary and Nikki’s birthday celebration.

It is my first visit to the German capitol which is mercifully almost Covid free. After seeing my two sons, Tom and Harry, top of my list is to see the famous Berlin wall, or the remnants of it anyway. Given the significance of Berlin in cold war history, on arriving I realise just how scant my knowledge is of the city and its famous wall.

So many questions…

How long? How high? Why? When?

And more questions besides and all directed at me by Mrs H who must have me confused with someone else. Someone a little more cultured. This is flattering and naturally I fudge and bluff as best I can. Anything not to ruin her delusions about the man she chose or more likely, settled for.

Like my historical knowledge, the wall is very thin. Much thinner than I imagined and not as high either. Too high to scale of course but not the foreboding walls that wrap around our prisons.

And double skinned too. Two walls I mean and with a gap of five metres between each of them, a space coldly known as the ‘death strip’.

Miles and miles of the wall that split East and West Berlin has been dismantled, but huge tracts remain and is now preserved as a monument to the power of politics, ideology and how it can divide and imprison. And wall space as significant as this is now an extraordinary backdrop for artists from around the world and their poignant murals.

The wall symbolises a failure of human nature. It’s cold concrete has witnessed so much cruelty and unnecessary pain. Families torn apart and so many lives lost trying to scale it. And its dismantling is a victory then. A symbol of hope for the will of the people and the defeat of communism.

Anyone visiting Berlin will do their best to register this significance but it isn’t an easy thing to do. Not for me, anyway.

It’s a great place to visit. It’s a vibey city. The place feels chic and cool. Graffiti adorns much of the buildings and although not to my taste, it somehow works. It feels a lot like Budapest but without its architecture and beauty. 80% of Berlin was destroyed during WW2 and it seems that they rebuilt it quickly.

Tom has been making a film here called Uncharted – which the world can see next July, hopefully in theatres and without masks.

Tom and Harry have loved Berlin, as have Nikki and I during our flying visit.

We head straight to set and watch the last day of filming in Berlin, then head for a stunning dinner at a restaurant called Grace. For our final day, a game of golf is mooted and per chance I have brought my clubs with me.

Harry has a 7.30 a.m tee time reserved. Nikki is welcome to join us but the prospect of the best shopping in Germany is more tempting. Hunting for attractive yet comfortable shoes or my golf ball? Unsurprisingly, Nikki goes with shopping. Everyone agrees that this is an excellent decision.

Game on.

On the 9th hole, I am having the best round of my year (so far). I have a putt for 22 points when disaster strikes. Not just that I miss the four footer but a phone call from Nikki.

It’s just after 9am, so she is probably finishing breakfast and about to hit the shops.

“The shops are closed today.” She explains.

“What? But it’s Saturday. How come?”

“It’s a bloody Bank holiday.”

“Are you serious? On a Saturday?”

My more astute readers might have guessed already. The 3rd October 1989 - 31 years ago to this day that time was called on the Berlin Wall. Every year since a national holiday. A day to reflect and to celebrate.

But not by Mrs H or me as my round quickly disintegrates.

And so the pain and cruelty of the Berlin Wall continues then but it can’t dent our affection for this great city and it's polite and warm people.

I lost the golf btw – but deliberately so.

Anything to keep the star happy.

 

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14 Comments

  1. Eeshi October 4, 2020
    Reply

    Somehow, the same thing happened to my aunt and uncle when they visited Berlin. Auntie wasn’t very happy. Uncle, very much so. He got to sleep in.

  2. Eeshi October 4, 2020
    Reply

    Somehow, the same thing happened to my aunt and uncle when they visited Berlin. Auntie wasn’t very happy. Uncle, very much so. He got to sleep in.

  3. J October 4, 2020
    Reply

    Oh, Berlin’s a great place! Glad you liked it!
    What about the rest of the Holland family?

  4. Izzy October 4, 2020
    Reply

    I’m so glad you enjoyed Berlin I can’t believe that I was at the wall the same time as you but must have missed each other would have loved to have met you both. I loved Berlin too i got my flight home on the Saturday but I traveled to see the set of uncharted even at a distance it looked spectacular can’t wait to see the film

  5. Izzy October 4, 2020
    Reply

    Hey Dom, I’m so glad you enjoyed Berlin as much as I did. I saw you Instagram story of the wall and I was there too but I must have missed you it would have been amazing to meet you both. I got my flight home on Saturday but I traveled to see the set of uncharted even from a distance it looked spectacular. I really want to get into film production so seeing that inspired me. Can’t wait to see the film

  6. Helena Wenk October 4, 2020
    Reply

    Hy Dom!
    since this is my first comment on any post I probably should start with: I love your blogs, there sincere and funny and a bit goofy, but at the same time important and brighten my Sunday up a little bit:)

    To this post: I’m glad your family enjoyed Berlin. Its my hometown and has a great history and a sleight weird one since the whole wall thing. Currently I’m working at the archive of the former state security of the DDR (well, it’s an apprenticeship but let’s just pretend I know what I’m talking about) which essentially was the definition of a big bad organisation with a matching evil jingle. We store the unrightfully claimed files and inform the public over the crimes that happened in that time. Since the fall of the wall there have been 31 years on 9th of November 1989. However The 3rd October is the day Germany celebrates the joining of East and West germany since that’s the day our constitution was born. If you ever in Berlin again I highly recommend the museum for Berlin history and the SaSi-Museum(the weird thing I’m working at) it is an informative and only slightly boring take on the history ^^

    Have a nice Sunday evening!

    • Susie October 4, 2020
      Reply

      In Las Vegas where I live there is a casino called Main Street Station, well known for their restaurant/brewery, and for their urinals. They purchased a large slab of the Berlin wall and mounted the urinals on it….now you know why “What hsppens in Vegas stays in Vegas”.

  7. Lorraine October 4, 2020
    Reply

    Delighted to see you managed to get a game of golf in with the boys Dom. So kind of you to allow the star to win !! Hope you all enjoyed the break. Have a good week

  8. Maria October 4, 2020
    Reply

    My God, Dom! I love this blog very much, it is wonderful
    I am very proud of Tom I also hope everything goes well
    Many kisses !!

  9. Vanessa October 4, 2020
    Reply

    This time the blog filled me more, gave me more potential and more desire to fulfill my dreams of traveling the world and seeing beautiful and important things, I hope one day to visit Berlin.

    So excited for Tom’s movie, I hope to see it in theaters quietly❤️❤️❤️

  10. Rachel Conrad October 4, 2020
    Reply

    Sorry your round of golf didn’t go as planned! It must be so cool to visit and travel to so many places, and find a time to play a game that you love.
    Berlin looks to be a beautiful city! Unfortunately, for now, I only get to experience it behind the screen, watching either Captain America: Civil War, or Spider-Man: Far From Home. Can’t wait for Uncharted!
    Looking forward to next week’s blog!

  11. Márcia Malaquias October 4, 2020
    Reply

    Hi
    Dear Mr. H

    I remember the destruction of the Berlin Wall when I was 12 years old, my dream is to visit Paris and I hope that Mr.H and Mrs.H will soon be able to live a beautiful romance hot in Paris (I hope the H children don’t read this )
    Hugs to the whole family, God bless you ♥️

  12. Aurelia October 5, 2020
    Reply

    As a German (incidentally living in the UK now) I feel obligated to point out that the wall came down on the 9th November in 1989. However, since that is also the day marked as the end of WWI and when the “Reichspogromnacht” happened in 1938, as well as a former Nazi holiday, Germany decided to celebrate the unity on the 3rd October 1990. So this year marked 30 years of celebrating and since those celebrations are held in a different state every year, 2020’s celebration was in Potsdam, not far from Berlin.

    Love the blog and hopefully you’ll get another chance to explore Germany with your family, there are some great places to visit. Stay safe!

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