First trip to another country this summer: complete! I almost didn’t make it to Berlin though. I’m normally pretty on time when it comes to traveling, but Bari and I cut it a little close catching our flight. This is how my conversation at the check-in desk went:
Me: Hi, I’m flying to Berlin.
Woman at the desk: Your flight is closing. Your boarding time is now.
We hurried through security and took a nice jog to our gate, but we made it and we were the last people to get on the plane. Good start to the trip. We decided we would try to leave more time for our flight home. We didn’t, but more on that later.
When we arrived in Berlin we had to find the public transportation to get to Juliann’s house. Berlin has the S-Bahn, the U-Bahn, and the Tram. After wondering around at 11pm looking for the S-Bahn we finally found it and I convinced Bari to buy a single ride ticket. Too bad it was the wrong ticket. Oh well. After our first S-Bahn/Tram adventure, we arrived at Juliann’s house on Langhansstraße Street.
Her house is AWESOME! She lives with 26 other people and it is kind of like an international frat house. There are shared bathrooms, a giant kitchen, a sweet common area, and the bedrooms are a dorm-type style. We got in at around midnight, and the people in the house were all playing a drinking game in the common area. They immediately welcomed us in and invited Bari and me to go out with them. Despite being pretty tired, we decided to go out to a club called Watergate. Our journey to the club was interesting, and Bari and I were the only people on the tram not drinking beer. It was unfortunate. Also, I have been getting used to the style in Barcelona and how the girls go decked out to work and then are dressed in super nice clothes to go out. It is totally not like that in Berlin. Everyone was wearing jeans and shirts to go to the club. Beer+not getting dressed up=I belong in Berlin. The club was fun and we stayed until about 5:30am. It was so disorienting to come outside after dancing and get to watch the sunrise. Juliann and I met some cool Scottish guys, even though it was unbelievably difficult to understand them. It took a guy several attempts to explain to me that is was his birthday.
After not much sleep we woke up to go do the hop-on-hop-off Berlin sight-seeing tour bus. We got off at Museum Island and walked around for a while and there was a really cool market with some beautiful art pieces. I really wish I could have bought some for my apartment next year, but oh well. We saw the Brandenburg Gate and the United States Embassy. Throughout the tour I really wished I had paid more attention in my global history classes in 9th and 10th grade because I was really having a hard time remembering any European history. Mr. Campanelli would be so disappointed in me.
Two places that we went to that really stood out to me were the Holocaust Memorial and the Jewish Museum. The Holocaust Memorial was designed by Peter Eisenman and has 2,711 concrete blocks aligned in a grid. It is really amazing to look at and walk through. Underground there is an information center that is really incredible. The exhibits outline the history of the Holocaust and have amazing tributes to the victims and survivors. One room had preserved letters written by Jews who were in the concentration camps. One letter was written by a twelve year old girl who wanted to say goodbye to her father before she was sent to the gas chambers. Emotions were high in that room and I found myself overwhelmed trying to imagine what it could have been like during those times. The Jewish museum was more focused on the total history of Jews in Europe and it was a really interesting place. The building was a giant zig-zag with axes that cut through it and it made absolutely no sense. It was also ginormous and we ended up missing a whole floor because we had no idea where we were going and we got kicked out at closing time.
That night we went to a nice restaurant for dinner and I had some amazing bratwurst and green mashed potatoes. Bratwurst is everywhere in Berlin and I thoroughly enjoyed it (insert all inappropriate jokes here). Afterwards we hung out in a cute cafe for a while and went back to the house to hang out with people and learn a little bit of all of the languages people spoke. I feel so inferior struggling with just English and Spanish while there were people in the house who spoke four or more languages. I have also determined that I cannot pronounce ANYTHING in German. As evidence, I added a video at the end of this post to demonstrate my German speaking ability .
Sunday we tried to go back to the tour bus to finish up some of the stops we didn’t get to on Saturday. We went to see the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie, both of which are not super easy to find. I embarrassingly considered asking someone, “excuse me, but is this the Berlin Wall?” In my defense, the wall is in a million pieces now and is not the easiest thing to spot. Checkpoint Charlie is also little and not well labeled with signs. I also am not entirely sure what the significance of it is…(Mom, I’m sorry! I’ll make an effort to understand history… some day). We unfortunately got super caught up in the touristy stuff and realized we were cutting it really close for our flight home. After taking the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, getting off the S-Bahn to find a cab, searching desperately for a cab for 20 minutes, finally finding a cab, running to Juliann’s house, running to the ATM, finding another cab, and holding our breath the whole cab ride to the airport, we finally made it. I checked in with 6 minutes to spare and we thankfully made it back home, once again being the last people to board. One message to Berlin: please get a highway. Local roads with 5 million red lights is an absolute nightmare when you need to catch a flight. So much for all the German efficiency I heard about.
Special thanks to Juliann for hosting us! We had a great time!
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