Greetings from my current location, Strasbourg, France! And Happy Halloween! I have found some time to blog, so I am going tell you about my adventures in Germany!
We left Nicosia, Cyprus at 5:30am in order to catch our flights to Berlin. I was so excited to be returning to Germany since my last visit during Junior year of high school. I was looking forward to putting my long lost German skills to the test. As I boarded the plane to Berlin, I was pleasantly surprised that I was still able to understand the German spoken over the loudspeaker, eaves drop on conversations around me, and even read some of the news paper from the gentleman sitting across the aisle! Being able to translate elements of my surroundings made me really excited to arrive in Germany for the second time.
When we landed in Berlin, stepping off the plane put a huge smile on my face. I was greeted by signs written in a language that I have missed over the past few years due to my decision to study Italian in college. Being able to read the German signs, nostalgia hit me hard for high school German class. I became eager to speak as much German as I could manage!
The first thing we did in Berlin was a 3 hour tour of the city by bus, and of course we stopped to see the Brandenburg Gate. It was a lot bigger than I imagined. We also stopped at Check Point Charlie and a few other places. At one point the tour guide asked me what I was studying in school, and I answered her in German. She was surprised that I spoke German and she said I was pretty good! Not bad since I haven’t studied it in nearly three years. We had a nice little conversation in German. I made some mistakes of course, but that’s to be expected.
For dinner that night, I became the navigator of the map since I could easily read the street names. It was fun to be the leader since I was the only one in our 7-person group who knew German. We found a lovely German restaurant and I got Applesaft (apple juice), Schnitzel, and Kartoffeln (potatoes). Sehr lecker! (Very tasty!)
Other foods I enjoyed while in Berlin:
German meatballs with beets and mashed potatoes
Ein Currywurst mit portion Pommes- I even taught Katie and Lauren how to order in German, and they did pretty well!
|Me, Lauren, Katie, and Kyle enjoying Currywurst|
The second day in Berlin was a busy day! We started by taking a stroll along the East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall. I thought it was cool to see history turned into a giant art project, and it was fun to attempt to translate the German text. I wish I brought my dictionary with me to look up the words I didn’t know.
|Small People :)|
I had a few favorite pieces along the wall, and since the back of the wall already had graffiti on it, we signed our names. One day I hope to return to Berlin to see if it’s still there. : )
|Part of the Berlin Wall, East Side Gallery|
|Dancing to Freedom: Part of the Berlin Wall, East Side Gallery|
To navigate the city, we bought an all day pass for all public transportation. I’ve decided that Berlin wins the award for the cleanest, fastest, most reliable, and easiest to learn public transportation!
|Fernsehturm and Berlin at night|
We stopped by the Fernsehturm (TV tower), Rötes Rauthaus, Reichstag (government building), and Museuminsel (museum island), which features magnificent architecture!
|Inside the Holocaust Memorial|
If you ever go to Berlin, make sure to stop at the Holocaust memorial. It’s an area of concrete blocks of different sizes, and walking through it is like a maze. While inside you get the feeling of being trapped, lost, and not knowing what is up ahead. Basically it was a giant metaphor that makes you feel how those effected by the holocaust must’ve felt, and it’s a brilliant art piece.
|Unter den Linden|
One of my favorite things to do in Berlin was to stroll down a street called Unter den Linden. It leads right to the Brandenburg Gate, and the Linden trees are so pretty in the Fall. I also enjoyed my visit to Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers, the best chocolate in Berlin.
Towards the end of the day we went to the big department store in Berlin called the KaDeWe. It was huge and way too expensive, but it was definitely an experience!
To me, Berlin was a charming city with history, great food, and lots to explore! I enjoyed just walking around and navigating the transportation system. I used more German than I thought I would be able to, but luckily Berliners speak English very well, so if I couldn’t say something in German, English was always an option. At one point my roommate Anya said that I seemed so comfortable in Berlin and she thought I could fit right in. I’ve decided I could live in Berlin if I had to; I just have to work on my German some more.
|Katie and Me playing in the leaves|
On a side note: Berlin was cold! After coming from Cyprus where the weather was 90 degrees, switching to Jeans and jackets was strange. It was very nice to see the Fall colored leaves though cause I missed them so much while in Cyprus!
On our way to Prague, Czech Republic, we stopped in Dresden for a bit. We only had 2.5 hours to explore a little and eat lunch, but I’m glad we stopped there. Dresden was beautiful and fun to walk around. There were so many churches in such a small area that using a steeple as a landmark hardly helped! We made it back to the bus just in time since we walked quite far away from the main square.
|Bretzel with Kyle!|
I enjoyed a Bretzel, a Bratwurst, and an Apfelshorle (sparkling apple juice) for lunch.
On our way to Strasbourg, France, we stopped in Dachau to visit the Concentration Camp. This was my first visit to a Concentration Camp, and I think it’s something that everyone should do at least once in their life. Walking through the gate that read “Arbeit macht frei” (work makes you free) was when it hit me what I was about to see. I won’t go into detail because really the experience is being there. We had audio guides that walked us through the Concentration Camp, and the way Dachau is preserved/reconstructed, you get a strong sense of what it was like to be there. I found myself loosing track of time as I was absorbed in the horrors of what occurred there. I only realized it was time to be back on the bus when I heard the noon church bells chiming in the wind. Hearing the bells brought me back to reality, but I walked back to the bus in silence as I processed what I had just experienced. This experience is why I chose today’s post title to be from "Wende der Zeit" by Bosse, and it translates to: “Where the old and new touch, there you stand at the middle of time.”
My return to Germany was a success! I got to see 3 new cities and revisit some of my favorite German foods. I was able to use my German more often than I expected, and I was happy that I hadn’t forgotten as much as I thought! My visit to Dachau’s Concentration Camp was certainly something that I will never forget, and my time in Berlin makes me want to return someday. Only time will tell when I get to visit Germany again, but I look forward to whenever that time will be!
Stay tuned for more posts and more countries! Thanks for reading!
Till next time,