Trip Start Sep 16, 2009
51Trip End Aug 18, 2010
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About 40 of us from the Summer class and another Erasmus group left on a bus around 7:30am for Berlin! We stopped at a rest area for breafast, typical German bread, cheese, meat, coffee, amazing cookies, jam made by Theres etc. Drove by the German checkpoint into the city (from the west side).
First we took a tour of the Charlottenburg Schloss which was beautiful. Every room was a different color and theme and had exquisite paintings on the walls/ceiling. There was a porcelain room of dishes and cups that were hung or placed all over the walls. It looked like 3D wallpaper.
Then we checked into the hostel which was very clean and had the necessities that we needed for one night. A group of us started walking East towards the Brandenburg gate (we had to get Doener on the way)
[The start of the latter unification process is by former citizens of the GDR commonly referred to as die Wende (The Turning Point.). The end of the unification process is officially referred to as the German unity (Deutsche Einheit) ]
There was a massive police force manning the festival which made me feel safe and very nervous at the same time! There were hundreds of vendors lining the street selling food, souveniers and beer. We were attempting to get close to the Brandenburg Gate for pictures, and to see a Marionnette show we had heard about. I bought a "Berliner" doughnut which was amazing! By the time we walked 2/3 of the way up the street we were shoulder to shoulder with everyone in a huge crowd. Wendy, Mason and I ended up being about 50 feet behind one of the machines that worked the marionettes. The one we saw was a 60 foot tall scuba diver from the 1950s. About 20-30 people were necessary to make the "puppet" move but in the end, we saw them put the huge helmet on and made the puppet stand up and walk to the gate, it was absolutely incredible!!
After we finally made it out of the crowed we walked towards Potsdamer Platz, a major area of the city where a Hauptbahnhof is located and pieces of the Berlin Wall. This was by far one of the neatest things I have ever done. To walk across the city with ease from West to East and admire the huge buildings and scenery without worrying about my safety was a strange thing to experience. We walked along the "Death Strip" to the nearest U-Bahn station back to the Hostel.
Then we had a great 1 1/2 hour tour of the city on our bus by a man who pointed out some of the great sites that were on the different points of the city. This was great because there was no way anyone could have driven, walked or rode the S/U-Bahn all around the city in one weekend. All of the buildings were beautiful at night. The Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche (church) is one remenant of the bombing raids in 1943. The old damaged spire still stands and they built a new chapel next to it in the 60s. I would have liked to walk here but it was too far.
Then we were dropped off again near the Brandenburg Gate and we made our way back to the festival. About 5 different major music artists were playing on a stage near the gate so we got to hear typical popular music. We walked around for a few hours, and got closer to the gate this time, but never very near it. Then we walked back to the hostel which took a long time but it was a good thing it was a straight route. Surprisingly the hostel bed was comfortable. My feet and legs hurt so much that I went right to sleep! Day 1 in Berlin has been the best of my trip so far!