Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ich bin ein Berliner...

So we have made it to Berlin and have been here for the last couple of days. This city plays the fascinating role of being a truly international city while still maintaining its German charm.

We arrived from Prague late at night to a bus station, only to discover that the S bahn was not working in that area. So using Erin and I's German and Jan's excellent navigation skills we managed to get to our hostel an hour or so later. Let me tell you, wandering around Berlin with a 30 pound pack on your back is not a bunch of fun. We got to our hostel, found Veronica, and pretty promptly crashed. There were a couple of drunken Italian girls sharing our room, which is the first time we've shared a room this whole trip.

The next day, Erin, Andrew, Stephen, Jan, Veronica, Emily, and I went to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, which is right outside of Berlin. Certainly a somber trip, but really interesting nonetheless. Appropriately, it started to drizzle about halfway through our audio tour. Through a series of events (no bus, broken U bahn, broken S bahn, etc.) it took us 4 hours to get back to the hostel. That evening we went to a biergarten, where I managed to choke down a Berliner Pilsner. At least my sausage and potato soup was good!

Yesterday, we went on a walking tour of Berlin. Totally worth my 10 Euros! It took four hours, but it would have taken us 2 days to do it on our own. We got to see Museum Island, the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Reichstag, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and the longest portion of standing Berlin Wall. We also stood in the parking lot above Hitler's bunker where he killed himself at the end of the war. If you haven't seen "Downfall", you need to.

Last night, we went out to a Mexican food place for Ally's birthday. It was fantastic to have some good Mexican food!

Today we are going back to Reichstag to go in the glass dome and we're also going to Potsdamer Platz. Tomorrow we head to Amsterdam. After that, I think we've decided we're going to go to Brussels for a few days. My program starts in 8 days! :)

Thought on Berlin and Germany as a whole: I discovered as soon as I arrived that Germany feels soooo familiar to me. The buildings look normal to me, the food isn't weird to me, even the packaging on the chocolate seems so right. I think my 6th grade self is remembering this place. Interesting!


The Sex aka Justin said...

I asked your sister and I will ask you as well... Has there been any excitement in the countries you guys have visited about the olympics? Could you even tell they were going on? I was wondering if other countries even cared...

Gary said...

Following up Justin's question, you should ask any Frenchies about the men's 4x100 meter relay (won by the US after some trash talking by the French team). I love it!

Odd that there have been so many transportation issues. I would have thought the Berliners would be more efficient at maintaining their transit system. But, as we Owenses all know by now, half the fun of any trip lies in the various disasters that must be overcome. Ha ha.

Brussels should be a fine end to your trip. NATO is based there - maybe you can get them to nuke France! :-)

Kristen said...

Glad you're having such a great time, Bethany! I can't wait to see pictures from all these amazing adventures - and speaking of pictures: Thank you! The photo and frame from you and Erin was so nice! I am incredibly lucky to have such thoughtful new sisters!!

Have fun on the next leg of your trip.

His Utmost Justin Smith said...

I have to follow up Gary by offering you at least $5000.00 (I will work on getting more) if you can get NATO to nuke France.

And that 4x100 was bitchen