U2360° TOUR Leg 3: 2011


Day off, Berlin

I was in a bit of a head spin this morning. Father Jack had remembered that last time we stayed at this hotel, we used to hang out at a little cafe across the street and a block or two down. It had been very pleasant, so I headed there for sustenance. Heading out of the hotel and in the direction I remembered, all I could see was an unbroken line of fences surrounding construction sites all the way down Unter Den Linden, the main street of former East Berlin. It feels like theres been a relentless assault to rebuild the whole of East Berlin, in fact it feels like theres been a relentless assault to rebuild the whole of Eastern Europe since the wall came down.

Abandoning the original cafe, I went to plan B. and found a perfectly suitable alternative, still serving breakfast, which is the eternal search of persons of the road. I tucked into an omelette and the Herald Tribune crossword (not too tough, its only Wednesday.) A friend texted to say that London had won the Olympics which made me burst out laughing. I am famously ambivalent about sport of any kind, but I find myself pleased that Londons got it. Good luck with the public transport, though.

On going back to the hotel, I discovered Frances, our press officer, drowning in Live 8 press clippings at the front desk. The amount of press which that event received is of course astronomical and dear Frances had to document and file the lot. I remembered her mentioning that she hadnt been to Berlin before (being of Antipodean persuasion) so took an executive decision to drag her out of the front door and make sure she saw at least a little bit of this incredible city.In the end we spent practically the whole of the rest of the day walking Berlin. Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, Unter Den Linden, round and about. Ive been here on many tours, going right back to the late 70s when it was an entirely different city. It was a gorgeous afternoon, so we took our time and just enjoyed wandering nowhere in particular. The quantity of new buildings is staggering and the architectural stance is astonishing. Theres more concrete and glass than you can shake a stick at, which is not a style that I find particularly sympathetic to the needs of human beings, but as a whole it creates quite a statement. Around the far side of the Reichstag we came to the river. The riverbank marks the edge of what used to be the American sector of the city, whilst the river itself is in the former Russian sector. I remember a winter night in the 70s being right here, howling drunk and waving at the Russian soldiers on the other side. Theres still a memorial there for people who were shot trying to escape from the East, the most recent of which was in 1989 which is shocking to think about. When you look at the sweeping staircase and three storey circular glass windows of the building that now stands in the place formerly occupied by highly unimpressed furry-hatted Russian soldiers, it all seems like an impossibility that somehow became a reality.We ate Bratwurst from a pavement imbiss, fed the numerous and highly enthusiastic sparrows and strolled down to Potsdamer Platz, a former area of border crossing no mans land. Here we found a G8 demo in full swing with anarchists barking into loudhailers in a dialect of German which Frances said sounded like a machine gun talking.My favourite find of the day was the newly unveiled holocaust memorial. From outside it looks vaguely like a cemetery, with a regular grid of pathways perhaps a metre wide, between smooth black granite blocks of various sizes, knee-high and lower. However, as you walk toward the centre, the pathways dip down suddenly and undulate up and down in both directions. Very quickly the black stones are way above head height, leaving you in quite a claustrophobic environment, surrounded by them all. Its very impressive and also very moving in a way thats hard to describe; highly atmospheric with an extremely unusual beauty.

We walked some more and found a waterside bar where we decided that the sun was far enough over the yard-arm for us to start on the cocktails. After some dinner we headed home and ended up in the Losers Lounge with some of our colleagues. This is a city Ill come back to.

Related Topics

Current News

16 Apr, 2013
We've got winners in our #U2FTGU competition.
11 Mar, 2013
Photos and clips 'from the ground up' arriving every day. Love your work...
18 Feb, 2013
Ever made anything From The Ground Up? (See what we did there?) Check out our latest competition.
29 Jan, 2013
Those five bonus downloads when you subscribe to U2.com? All you need to know.
18 Dec, 2012
It opens with Breathe and closes with "40" - but what are the other thirteen tracks on Edge's Picks?
15 Nov, 2012
Fifteen tracks selected by The Edge... but what are they?
14 Nov, 2012
'From The Ground Up' is the inside story of U2360° and in this exclusive extract we go backstage with Adam.
27 Jun, 2012
Saturday marks three years since U2360 took off - we're hosting 'U22 Day' to celebrate.

Current News

27 Jan, 2015
'Get out of the conscious mind...' Edge on creativity with Feedback Kitchen's Mario Batali.
26 Jan, 2015
 New dates are being added to this year's iNNOCENCE & eXPERIENCE Tour.
23 Dec, 2014
It started with 'Ordinary Love' and ended with news of the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour 2015. Twelve months we were waiting for.
08 Dec, 2014
Additional dates confirmed in New York, Chicago, Boston, Montreal, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Berlin and Paris.
08 Dec, 2014
11 Films of Innocence airing for 24 hours ... plus 12th, special to U2.com subscribers.
08 Dec, 2014
Tickets for the U2 iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour on general sale this morning.
03 Dec, 2014
On the road in 2015, playing indoor arenas for the first time in a decade. Cities, dates, tickets, presales.