Not unlike a do-it-yourself version of the 2003 hit film “Goodbye Lenin!”, visitors to Berlin now have the option of voluntarily waking up from a self-induced coma to find themselves in a completely artificial pre-1989 GDR world. Complete with “Sandmann” memorabilia and Erich Honecker photos on the walls, the Ostel (Ost as in East, tel as in Hotel) claims to offer visitors to Berlin Mitte the unique experience of “traveling back with them to the former East Germany.”

It is unclear as of this writing if they actually mean somehow traveling back in time during the night, too. Well it’s unclear to me. But I’ve always been a cautions type of person so perhaps that’s just me.

Now maybe I’ve gotten this all mixed up again or something, but wasn’t East Germany the place everybody wanted to get out of up until 1989? Hmmm, let’s study this phenomenon. Ping. I’ve got it! It’s that Ostalgie thang all over again. Ostalgie is the rather bizarre fascination many Germans (primarily from the east) have with the life in former good-old-bad-old East Germany (would morbid fascination have been a better term?). You know, they’re goofy about goofy East German products, Trabant automobiles, the popular TV shows and Schlager singers of that era etc. You would think it might have blown over by now but if you would you would obviously be thinking wrong. The upward curve may have indeed peaked out, but it’s going to take quite some time yet before it finds its way back down to oblivion again.

So if you’re physically up to the challenge (your blood pressure is OK, you don’t scare or pass out easily etc.), don’t hesitate to put on your protective space suit gear or whatever the hell it is they want you to wear when checking in and, uh, check it. If you hesitate, you’re bound to start thinking this over again. 

Come visit me at Observing Hermann…

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