The trip to Berlin began as soon as our final ended on Friday. We had to rush to the train station to make our eleven hour train to Germany. Arriving in the 40 degree weather was a rude awaking that we were no longer in our shorts and t-shirt weather anymore. Unfortunately none of us had checked the forecast so we were all under dressed for the weekend. But that was not enough to deter from seeing Berlin to it's fullest.
The trip began very interestingly as a homeless man tried instigating a fight with Seth for no reason before we even left the train station! We quickly accepted the fact that walking the streets of Berlin at 1:00 A.M was not exactly the safest or smartest idea. We grabbed a taxi and arrived to our hostel within ten minutes rather than the 35 minute walk we had planned on taking.
Our hostel was incredible. For anyone interested in a hostel in Berlin I highly recommend "Wombats Hostel" It was virtually impossible to differentiate this hostel from a hotel. The hostel also recommended a free walking tour of Berlin sponsored by the company New Europe.
On Saturday we
woke up at 8 to walk to the meeting place of our walking tour. Around 8:30 our tour began with a group of about 8 other people, (a total of 12 in all.) It was a great size because we could hear our tour guide at all times as we traveled through the city. The tour began at the Brandenburg gate, Berlins welcoming gate to the city that has been standing since the age of the Prussian Empire. From here we walked to the Reichstag. The Reichstag is the Parliament building for Germany and is the place in which Hitler began his rise to power. An interesting fact of the Reichstag is the post WWII architecture that was added. A clear dome, where people can walk, was placed as the new roof of the Reichstagh over the room where government officials work. This suggested that the citizens of Germany could always see their government at work. The dome demonstrated the "transparency of democracy" as an underlying theme. We then preceded to what I was most anxious to see, the Berlin Wall. Sadly to say I was extremely disappointed by the size of the wall in height. It was not until
our tour guide described how the wall was mainly used as a symbol of separation rather than directly keeping people from getting over ( I was convinced i could get over). What kept people from crossing the boarder was actually the "death zone." The death zone was an area between the wall and East Germany where soldiers were instructed to shoot any individual seen inside this area. The tour then continued to highlight Checkpoint Charlie, Nazi Air force Headquarters, and famous architecture throughout the city. A thing that amazed me was how many of the buildings are still damaged or blackened from the bombings of WWII and how greatly the city was affected by the war. I was so grateful for the tour because it exposed how much history was in the city of Berlin.
After the tour the group of us needed a quick nap before we went to dinner at a German Brewery. I had Gorgonzola Crusted Pork chops and a liter of the House Brew! Dinner was fantastic and we all headed off to experience the Disco-teca which was also a great experience.
On Sunday morning the rain started early and ruined our plans to
see the concentration camp right outside the city. This was a major let down but instead we hopped on the earliest train and headed back to Riva. Great weekend. Loved the history that Berlin had to offer!
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