I want to apologize to my little blog for being so neglectful these days. I blame a strict schedule of traveling, having fun, and just the right amount of sitting and doing nothing. This is all about to change however, because... EXAM SEASON IS UPON US. Which, if I'm honest, means I'll be making lots more jewelry in the coming weeks. Y'know how it is... Also, I seem to have somehow run out of money, which means no more travel. And that means I'll soon be back to my regularly programmed shameless self-promotion. Goodie! But first, pictures of Berlin!
Let me first say: I LOVED this city. Now I know I say that about every city. And it's always true. But Berlin. Wow.
The history this city has endured in its 8oo-year life-span is just unreal. We took a free walking tour which was so informative and awesome. 3.5 hours and so many of the major historical and cultural points of interest explained! The tour was with Sandemans, and they run free walking tours of most major European cities. They're totally worth researching before your next trip (and see, I've even included a link, so now you have to check it out...) They also do amazing [not-free-but-worth-it] pub and club crawls.
It's possible (and free!) to get to the glass dome on top, from which you can get great views of the city and a cool little audio guide of the skyline's most impressive buildings. But as a disclaimer: we waited in line for over an hour (moooo), went through hellish security checks (No hats allowed. No hats?!?!), and got rained on, all of which made the experience a bit of a let-down. Just depends on how long the line is, I think.
These are books.
What is really impressive about this memorial is that it's right in the center of the city. It's impossible for tourists or locals to walk through the historic center without seeing these rows and rows of different size concrete slabs. It forces people to think about the past by confronting them with it, rather than giving them the convenient option of ignoring it. The idea is that anyone who makes the effort to go out of their way to see a concentration camp or some other memorial is already thinking about the past, but those who don't make that effort should think about it too. I've found this attitude is present in every German city, but I was particularly struck by it in Berlin. A hundred meters down from this new Holocaust memorial is the site of Hitler's Bunker, the place where he died. It's now a grassy parking lot in front of an apartment building.
Kaiser Wilhelms Gedaechtsniskirche (Memorial Church)
Another very present memorial: this church steeple was partially destroyed by Allied bombing in WW2 and Berlin authorities have chosen to leave it like that as an ever-present reminder of the devastation of war. It still functions as a working church.
The Kiss Of Death (Dmitri Wrubel), East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is a stretch of the East Side Berlin Wall about 1 km long, on which international artists painted murals in 1990. It's symbloic because people on the West Side could graffiti and paint on their wall, but those on the East were not allowed to touch the wall until it was torn down in 1989.
We took a day trip out to Potsdam, the town where U.S. Army officers (like my grandfather) would pass over from West to East Berlin to conduct intelligence gathering operations. It was surreal for me, seeing things my dad's dad talks about in his book, and being in a place of such family importance for me.
Neues Palais, Potsdam
We caught brief glances of Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler at the German premiere of Bounty Hunter!!! There was a wall 5 or 6 people thick so we didn't get the best looks but we definitely did see them! Of course my camera battery had already died for the day (I think maybe I take too many pictures...) but I swear it happened!
This is what dinner on a budget looks like.
Speaking of on-a-budget, my wallet was stolen! After paying at the Imax I haphazardly placed it into my bag, but it didn't fit in right, so I think someone stole it from my bag in the crowds of the movie theater!! I was able to cancel my bank cards before there was activity on the account (thanks mommy!). We were treated to a whole morning in the French embassy trying to expedite a new passport, then an afternoon in the police station filing a report-of-theft. Everything is fine now, except of course my priceless and irreplaceable wallet from Katelyn. I've gone through the six stages of grief over it, which I believe are anger, sadness, denial, sadness, sadness, and sadness. :( But now I have an excuse to try to sew one myself!
Berliner Funkturm (TV Tower)
A gorgeous song about Kreuzberg, Berlin (where the East Side Gallery is located!)