BARELY a generation ago, the two things that sprang to mind at the mention of Berlin would probably have been its infamous Wall and Liza Minnelli's frenetic turn as Sally Bowles in Cabaret.
Withso much of central Berlin flattened by Allied bombing during World War II, the city's post-war rehabilitation - both physical and psychological - has been a little difficult to say the least. Afterall, the city - split in two like Jekyll and Hyde - has long laboured under the seemingly impossible burden of being Hitler's headquarters and, by extension, the symbolic core for the Holocaust.
Yet,quite without anyone really noticing it, 16 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German capital is in the midst of a Renaissance that is broadcasting social, cultural, political and economicflourishes in equal doses.
All this against a background of a recession and an economy staggering under the weight of a muscular euro, where locals still muse longingly for the more halcyon days ofthe deutschemark. Still, with incremental steps that have become increasingly bold strides, Berlin has staged a resurgence - and at the same time a rallying call for savvy jet-setting mavens to packtheir Tumis immediately for a long overdue visit. Whether for fashion, cuisine or just plain old-fashioned sightseeing (Berlin boasts an enviable spread of majestic museums, galleries and boutiques),this is a hedonistic bolt-hole.
Throughout its turbulent modern history, the city has never lost its reputation for electric creativity nor, indeed, its armour-plated aura of stylish brio - hereagain, cue images of Ms Liza followed closely by its favourite son, the provocative photographer Helmut Newton.
Incidentally, the latter is immortalised with the slick Newton Bar, its restrained ArtDeco interior dominated by a wall of Herr Newton's outsized saucy images of nude Amazons. Prudes should just steer clear and, instead, high-tail it to KaDeWe, Potsdamer Platz and Ku'damm for some...
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