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Published: March 4th 2007
Max and I!
I know, it's boring that we went to Starbucks, but it was Sunday so everything was closed and Max had all his luggage so we couldn't go far. And it was soooo gooooood.
With some much communication now easily possible due to the greatness that is The Internet, sometimes it feels like I never left home. However, all this communication takes time, and more and more the poor blog seems to be getting neglected. Tonight is no exception. By the time I'd finished reading and responding to all my e-mails (and the Scouting ones have picked up again now that the Christmas holidays are over), answered all my FaceBook messages (the new internet time-eating demon) and done a quick perusal of the top stories on CBC, my hour if internet is pretty much spent. Such is the case tonight.
***Let's try this again*** So, as I was typing last night after wasting my time doing the above things, the computer very rudely restarted itself (even though I SWEAR I had at least 5 minutes of time left), and my attempts to buy another hour were thwarted because I didn't have correct change for the machine and Dunkn Donuts wouldn't help me out. Ohhhh well.
Guess who I spent 2 hours with today??? MAX VONADERKAS!!! Yup, that's right. Youngest 'offspring' (as Mom would say) of Dr. Patrick Von Aderkas, family friend and my
The Beds in the Bunker
Some of the stacked bunks in the bunker. I actually didn't find them that bad to lie in (no worse than Navy bunks on a ship or anything) but I guess I wasn't surrounded by 3599 other people at the time. Also, I've been living in hostels for months so I'm used to the crowded bunkbed thing
former Plants and People prof. (Who, apparantly, also taught Bio 190 this year. Who knew?) How did this come about, you ask? Well, it's all due to a glorious, though internet time sucking, entity called Facebook, which allows me to keep pretty good tabs on my acquaintances. I found out Max was in Germany and asked him where exactly he was since I was in Berlin, and he said he would be arriving in Berlin on Sunday and that we HAD to meet up, and I said I would be here 'till Monday, so arrangments were made and we met for a lovely 2 hour chat at Starbucks. He's such a great kid. And he really is a kid, too. OK, maybe not quite, but I was shocked when he was gushing about how he liked Montreal because he's of legal age there. "How young ARE you?" I asked in horror. "18!" he replied. Wow. I'm old. He's here in Germany to take a German language course. He's already fluent in French (and his pronounciation in German is excelllllent, even if he can only say a few words right now). He says his goal is to learn 5 languages by
Inside the Museum
There were really neat windows like this all through the musuem, which looked cool from the inside and added to the arcitecture of the outside, too.
the time he's 30, and I have no doubt he'll accomplish it. He's awesome. We had a great time talking about mutual acquantances (none of whom Derek really knew, unfortunately). It really goes to show how small Victoria is when he's 3 years younger than me and we've never gone to any of the same schools, yet we somehow are mutually, independently, good friends with at least 5 people. Max is still in the "Victoria is really nice, but I'm glad to get out of there" phase. I, on the other hand, am in the "Victoria is the best place on earth and I can't wait to get back to my amazing network there" phase. Not that I'm not having a great time in Europe, because I most certainly am.
So, what am I doing here, you ask? It's been awhile since I'Ve posted. Well, the day after our walking tour Derek and I moved hostels to one which we thought would be in a better location. Turns out it was simply a NEW location, but just as bad (in my opinion) as our old one, despite getting glowing reviews online. Plus, they charged us more than was advertised
I'm in this pomegranite tree. Can you find me? This was in the Jewish History Museum
online. Ohhh well. At least we got to keep the same bed for all 3 nights that we were there. We didn't want to overwork Derek so he stayed in (for the most part) to get rid of his cold while I went out on my own to explore. I decided to try to walk where I was going and only take transit back, since transit is pretty expensive here and I'd already had to pay for the trip to GET to the hostel earlier that morning. After making my way back to a major shopping district we'd passed through earlier and exploring it a bit, I decided to just wander without a real goal in mind and venture in to whatever museum I came upon. Berlin supposidly has around 150 museums, but I really don't know where they are all hiding and I never came across a comprehensive map that listed them. I saw a sign post that supposidly pointed to the "Story of Berlin" museum, which I'd read about earlier and thought would be cool, so I headed in that direction. After about 2 kilometers, I was pretty sure the sign had led me astray. " No big
A Model View
This is a model of the cool Jewish History Museum. Not the best pic, but you get the idea
deal," I thought. "I'll just wander around and see where my feet take me." I was kind of enjoying my solitary freedom. However, instead of leading me anywhere particularly cool, my feet decided to take me on an extensive 3 hour tour or suburban Berlin. I got to see poor Berlin, French Berlin, and trendy condo Berlin. Never in my life have I been so incredibly lost, with absolutely NO IDEA where I was (our hostel was already off the map I had, and now I was reallllly off the map) and Berlin is so flat that I had no landmarks to use to orient myself. I found my disorientation kind of fun, until the sun started to go down and I realized I should probably at least vaguely start going in the right direction. When I passed "Dusseldorf Strasse" for the 2nd time, I new I'd completed a large circuit over the past hour or so, though that still didn't help me out much. In the distance, I saw a bus. Horray! A major traffic route! I walked to the bus street, and there, gloriously, was a map. Eventually I made my way back to the huge shopping district,
Some of the cool architecture in Berlin. This is actually NOTHING compared to some of the buildings here.
and, low and behold, the Story of Berlin museum that I'd set off looking for hours earlier. Even though it cost an extremely steep 8€ to enter, I decided to do it anyways since I'd come all this way (in a circle). The museum was really, really well done, but unfortunately I basically had to skip all of the modern history part of it because I only had an hour before the final tour of the radioactive bunker was leaving. The maid reason I'd been willing to pay the 8€ was because it included a guided tour of a real, still functional, nuclear explosion protection bunker which was located underneath the mall where the museum was situated.
The tour was really interesting. The bunker was supposed to be a parkade that could be turned into a radiation protection bunker for 3600 people within 24 hours, and it was supposed to be able to keep these people safe for 14 days. They may have been safe, but they certainly would not have been comfortable. There was only enough space for everyone to have 1 square meter of space, so you basically would have stayed in your bunk for most of
Topography of Terror
The free open air exhibit on the grounds of the former Gestapo and SS headquarters. It was warm while the sun was out, but when the sun went away for the last 20 minutes it got coooold! P.S. That's the section of the Berlin Wall in the background that I previously photographed on our walking tour.
the time. There were just 52 toilets for all 3600 people. There were only 2 kitchen rooms for all those people, which basically would have just been used to hand out pre-packaged food anyway. The air filtration system wasn't really powerful, so the temperature would have risen to over 30 degrees and the humidity would have been near 90%. Plus, the lighting would be so dim that it wouldn't be sufficiently bright to read in any bunk accept the very top ones (not that youl would have had time to grab reading material because the 3600 that got space in the bunker were just the first 3600 to arrive at the door). Apparantly there were shelters like this created all through West Germany with enough space to shelter about 1% of the population of each town they were in. Yikes. It was pretty cool to see. I'm certainly glad the Cold War is over, though! I might have been able to get readmission to museum after the tour, but I was experiencing hunger pains since I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast and it was nearly 7pm at this point, so I just left in desperate search of food.
sustinance did I stumble upon? Well, in my hunger delerium I decided it would be a good idea to try this "currywurst" sausage thing that is apparantly a Berlin favourite. However, it wasn't until after I ordered that I realize it was coming out of a greasy, lukewarm water bath that didn't even completely cover the sausage. Mmmmm. I haven't become violently ill, so I guess it was safe. The poor woman tried really hard to use her best English for me, and even managed a chipper "Please!" when she handed me my weiner. (...she thought she was saying thank you, if you didn't understand that. It was funnier when I retold the story to Derek.)
After that, I used some internet and then staggered home, exhausted.
The next day we went to the Jewish History museum. Not only were the exhibits themselves really interesting and well put together and extremely modern, but the building itself was incredible. Apparantly, the building was drawing visitors even before the museum opened. It is supposed to look like a distorted star of David, and there are many, many other features incorporated into it, as well. It's way too deep for me
Funky Green Man Says Go For It!
These sweet walking lights were installed in East Berlin and, although once a symbol of communism, are now trademarked and marketed on a ton of tourist souveniers. Go figure!
to explain in detail here, but it was really great. My favourite part of Belin is all the INCREDIBLE modern archetecture here. A really awesome feature of the building was this part called the 'Holocaust Tower' which was this tall, unheated, concrete structure which was only accessible from underground and which only let light in through a couple tiny holes high up in the wall. It was really powerful. You definitely immediately felt like you were in isolation awaiting some horrible fate in a concentration camp or an interrogation room.
Continuing our war-learing experience, today Derek and I went to the open air "Topography of Terror" exhibit, which is located on the site of the former SS and Gestapo headquarters where thousands of people were imprisoned and tortured without just cause. The exhibit was really detailed and they provide free English audio guides so we could understand what all the pictures were about. There was also a detailed section on the Nearembourg Trails (not spelled right) which took place after the war to try some of the highest ranking Nazi officials for their war crimes. Their lack of remorse was pretty shocking, although maybe it was a survival technique for their brains to refuse to believe that they had actually commited such atrocities.
After that, we walked to meet Max, and you know the rest of the story. Oh, Derek just left the internet place, furious because they charged him an extra $.50 and now he doesn't have enough change to take the bus to the train station tomorrow. They better not charge me extra.
Alright, I'm going to try to upload what few photos I have from the past couple days, but these computers are kind of decrepid so I don't know if it will work.
I'm missing the Brier. *sniff* Go Gushue! Show them all you've still got it!
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