Traveling: Reflections on Berlin

I’m currently in Dublin Airport en route back from Berlin.  The trip was good – I was presenting a paper at the Law and Society Association annual meeting.  My friend Jennifer, who many of you know, was also there and her university paid for the trip so I was able to save some money by staying with her.  We stayed in a fabulous hotel which I highly recommend – the Melia Berlin.  We paid a little bit extra, so I think it worked out a 144 euro a night but for that we had access to this lounge which was open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and served free food and drink (yes, alcohol also) during that time: Huge breakfast spread in the morning, soda and beer and cava all day, lattes to order, cakes at 3 p.m., and then the highlight – at 6 p.m., they brought out a variety of hot and cold tapas and loads of bottles of booze.  We certainly got our money’s worth.

Berlin itself is really intersting, and not having been there before the wall came down, it was hard to imagine how it was when the city was divided.  I went on a long run, through the Brandenburg gate and the Tiergarten (Berlin’s Central Park) and along the Spree (the river running through the city) – it’s really quite beautiful.  I didn’t start to feel weird about its history until I saw the place marking where all the books were burned at Humboldt University, which made me shiver.  We didn’t go into the West much as our hotel was in the East.  You also see all these big open plazas and I could just imagine the Nazi demonstrations etc. taking place there.  According to Jennifer, who lived there 10 years ago, the city has changed a lot over the years – it’s still a little gritty in places but in other ways, it’s just another cosmpolitan European city.

I’m looking forward to coming home and cooking some good pasta but I don’t have too much time to relax.  I travel to Oklahoma City for another conference on Sunday, for work this time, and from there to Cincinnati for the monthly site visit.