As last Wednesday I was in Berlin for the first time ever on a May Day, I wanted to use the opportunity to visit the landmark spots of the city where traditional demonstrations and street parties take place. I started with the most obvious location, the Brandenburger Tor area and watched the quite democratic and civil marches of various political and social groups who also got lucky with the beautiful, sunny Berlin weather.

As I was standing there and watching, at some point I checked my Twitter feed to find out about the violent events and clashes between the May Day groups and the police taking place thousands of kilometers away, in my hometown Istanbul. Irritated and angry, I decided to forget about it for the moment and continue my Berlin May Day tour.

After wandering around Potsdamer Platz, Alexanderplatz, witnessing more marches, I decided to head to Kreuzberg area in order to check out the street parties that bring together Berliners of various ages and sociopolitical views. I took the U-Bahn to Kottbusser Tor and immediately found myself in the middle of one of the biggest street parties I’ve ever witnessed. I was already comparing the crowd with the one at Santo Antonio Festival in Lisbon and probably it was almost as many people as that one on the streets. I really liked the atmosphere, some people singing and dancing on the streets, especially Oranienstrasse, while some others enjoying the sunshine on the lawn at Oranienplatz. It was possible to taste some homemade gastronomic specialties, most of them being prepared and sold by Berlin residents of Turkish origin.

In the end, even though I could not experience it up to its highest extent due to time constraints and the fact that I am pretty new to the city, I can say that May Day in Berlin is definitely a nice combination of the important marches and speeches on the squares of the city, especially considering the history of this once divided capital, with enjoyable and pleasant street parties of the younger generation.

Category: English, Life

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May 2013
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