May 27, 2014

Off to Berlin!

I finished my semester in London on May 1st, the next day my sister (who had flown out on the 29th of April) and I headed to the airport to catch our plane to Berlin! We took the train from London to Gatwick airport and hopped on the plane. I have never been to Germany before and was super excited to go to a country that I have wanted to visit since I was in high school. My sister and I both took over 3 years of German so our use of the language was not too shabby upon arrival. BERLIN WAS FREEZING THOUGH! WOAH.
The first sign I saw at the station from the airport into the city was "Abfahrt" which only makes the immature and american tourists laugh...so yes, me and my sister giggled our hearts out and took many appropriate photos next to the sign. Our dad taught us well.
Once we arrived to our hostel, dropped our things, and went out to find food. We happened across a daily market and bought bratwurst, yummmmmmmayyyy. I think I ate those every day for lunch and dinner while we were in Germany which was a grand total of 5 days.
 Oh and then we bought another bratwurst...but this time with potato salad because we couldn't remember what "Semmel" meant. It means bread.
My sister and I excitedly looked around the market, drooling over the massive sweets and smelling the deliciousness that is bratwurst. The coolest thing about Germany is that I can read EVERYTHING! Like I don't have to guess what signs are saying. Pretty awesome.
As the evening wore down as well as our energy levels we caught the metro and headed back to our hostel. Once off the train we went to the closest grocery store we could find and bought as much german candy that we could fit into our arms. I squealed with excitement when I found Sour Pommes Frites and Haribo Gummy Bears. The german kind of gummy bears are top notch.
As we were making our way back to our room I was double crossing my fingers we had no roommates. To my pleasant surprise we found out we got the room to ourselves. YAHOO!
Snooze time was in order after a hot shower. Sleep time never felt so good. Well the mattress felt better because I wasn't getting stabbed by springs galore in my back and I also had a little more privacy than my dorm at school had. Bliss.
.......
After being awoken only once from drunk neighbors at 3 in the morning, I woke up feeling refreshed. I slept for more than 2 hours at a given time. I was so so so happy. My sister on the other hand was coming down with a cold, and barely slept a wink thanks to our drunk neighbors. I swear we were staying in different hostels with the way we both felt about the night before.
FOOD TIME. After food time, we managed to sneak away a loaf of bread in my purse for later snackage. I don't know what I was thinking, I mean the sun was shining but Berlin was still freezing, I should have packed more layers but oh well. We had intentions to take a boat tour in the morning and then catch a free walking tour. We did both successfully. Phew. And the sun did come out and warm up so much that I ended up removing my jacket. Helloooo sunshine.
 Boat tour time. Kinda freezing.
 Berlin Dome.
I guess the thing that I learned the most from the tours is how dark Berlin is. I mean I knew a lot of history had happened there, but emotionally it took an exhaustive toll on me. We learned about the history of the Nazis, how people were treated and during our walking tour we went to many historical sites which really brought every bit of history I have learned about Nazi Germany to life. We went to a place where book burning occurred, we walked to the Berlin wall and Check Point Charlie, we learned about how much destruction happened to the city and we stood in a parking lot that held below it was where Hitler hid out for weeks, married his love, and killed himself. I had never felt more eerie or emotional or filled with anger than when I was standing on top of those grounds. Unreal.
book burning happened here. In memory of that event they read books in the same location.
This is a sculpture commemorating the man who attempted to murder Hitler by setting off a bomb in a pub Hitler would frequent. His bomb went off 11 min after Hitler left the pub.
The Memorial for the Murdered Jews
Once the walking tour concluded, my sister and I walked around the Brandenburg Gate, went to the Reichstag and although we didn't go inside we sure spent a whole lotta time outside of it taking photos and just staring at the building.
 The architecture in Berlin is so modern mixed in with the old. It's awesome.
 This is how we walk around Europe.
It was reaching the time in between lunch and dinner we spotted a bratwurst and currywurst shop across from the Topography of Terror museum (where we were heading next). We had been told by our friend Antonio that WE HAD TO TRY CURRYWURST. Like he was all about the currywurst. We ordered both Currywurst and Bratwurst. They were both tasty but in my own personal opinion the bratwurst is daaaaaa best!
Okay. The Topography of Terror museum. I had no clue what it was. We walked over to it and all I saw was rubble. My sister was really interested in it and I did not understand why. I separated from her and found myself suddenly reading every bit of information on every single plaque that the outside of the museum had. I suddenly started gasping with shock as I read the horrific stories and events that occurred leading up to the murdering of hundreds of thousands of people. I had no idea that along with the massive amounts of Jews that were murdered, there were also homosexuals, gypsies, and disabled people who were murdered. I found myself shaking my head in horror as I read plaque after plaque after plaque. The museum is located on the foundation of rubble that during 1933-1945 housed "the central institutions of Nazi persecution and terror the Secret State Police Office with its own “house prison,” the leadership of the SS and, during the Second World War, the Reich Security Main Office –" and standing on those kinds of grounds really shakes a person up. 
(Some of the Berlin Wall were also placed around the Topography of Terror)
We went inside where I think I just became overwhelmed by the amount of horrific acts were taken to get rid of people who weren't "superior". I mean I saw pictures in that museum that I didn't think anyone would be allowed to see. They were graphic, and I think that is when it really hit me how trapped and scary it must have felt living in that time in Berlin. I mean the amount of fear people must have had for their lives on a daily basis, wow. I cried a few times, angrily read some of the Nazi leaders notes, staring at these leaders photos and thinking how awful of a person they were. I have never felt such disgust and hatred than in those hours I spent there. I mean, that is the whole point of visiting Berlin though. Paying tribute to these innocent people who were murdered because they're lifestyle was different than others. It was emotionally exhausting. I am so thankful I was able to see these museums though. I think it's important that we recognize as a human being that this was what happened. We owe it to our ancestors to learn about these huge events in history and to understand and learn from them. 
Weeew. Emotional. 
I think we intended to spend an hour at the museum and were there for over 2 hours.
As the sun was setting my sister and I caught the next train to the other side of the city to see remnants of the Berlin Wall that artists had painted to pay homage to. 
Upon arrival we spotted a spectacular sunset that looked like it had been painted just for us. The colors bouncing off the buildings and water was absolutely beautiful. Naturally a lot of photos on the iPhone were taken.
We walked the length of the remaining wall and stopped to look closely at as many of the murals that we could. I just think it is super neat that Berlin has not abolished things that are apart of the city's past. Instead they have taken these articles and made them into something else to remind the people where they were and how far they have come. It's a refreshing mix of old with new. 
That night for dinner we skipped the bratwurst and picked up salads and ate them in our jammies in our room. No roommates again. BLISS.

...I think that's enough words for one blog post...to be continued...

5 comments:

Bisma Rauf said...

Amazing photos :)

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em said...

Katie, what an incredible and emotional visit. Thank you for writing about it and sharing it with us. Much love, em.

Katie said...

thank you!

Katie said...

thank you!! I think a trip to Portland is in order :)

Anonymous said...

Sehr interessant. Deine Foto sind ganz toll.