Leaving sunny and romantic France in the end of spring and arriving in rainy and cold Germany was a shock, since the beginning.
It is amazing how two countries, so close, can be so different. What is charming in Paris, scares you in Berlin. Paris is filled with narrow colorful streets, romantic architecture, centennial corners and the lights that give name to the city. Berlin means cement, asphalt, gray, immensity, buildings rebuilt over what is left, the weight of the post-war architecture.
And what to say about the difference between the people of both capitals? About the multi-ethnic, beautiful, magical Paris? The clash of cultures, the Parisians-Arab descendants, Africans and Eastern people who despise the French; the French Parisians, typical, unfriendly, full of ceremony and impatient, no eye contact. “Ville de merde, Paris de merde”, yelled a typical Parisian girl against the tourists. Despite all this, La Ville-Lumière is still the most visited European capital. No arguing about that.
In Berlin, everyone looks the same; it is pretty hard to tell tourists or foreigners from local people. They are reserved but with an easy smile. Calm, discrete, easy to talk to. If I were not Brazilian, I would risk calling them friendly. But they are… from Berlin. Politeness and sweet gestures that ease the tension; light eyes that search for some peace and quiet in ours; the punks who run into us with a smile; the need for healing the wounds and looking over the ruins that do not let them forget about the past.
With all these differences and perspectives, I would dare to say that Paris is celebration, and Berlin is awareness.
Paris inspires: classical art present everywhere, huge museums, gardens full of trees and flowers, the victorious history – the everlasting beauty. Berlin discourages: the raw art from war leftovers; the museums and monuments to the Jews; the broken and unfinished history – a city under construction.
Is there any similarity between these two capitals? In spite of ethnic or geographic division, they both make an effort to find balance. Cultural disagreements and constant confrontation among the banlieues in the French capital can prove it. The scars of a wall that tears an entire city and nation into shreds can prove it.
Translated by Lúcia Maciel
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