Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Berlin for the Win

Our trip is coming to a close. We've had a few fun but hot days here in Berlin, and I will miss it. 
On the first day, we all saw two museums. One with ancient ruins from babylon and one with ancient Egyption artifacts. They literally rebuilt parts of these cities in the museum. It was amazing. 
I also had some mixed feelings like maybe this stuff should be in it's original geographic location, but apparently they did get permits for the expeditions, so...another discussion. 
We had really really good pizza for dinner. We tried to catch a concert outside, but it rained. Brendan and I ended up locating an amazing bad instead. A father and son own the bar, and the son was born 6 weeks after me in East Berlin. He was 3 years old when the wall fell, so we talked with him about what he remembers. 
Day two:
Brendan and I went to the zoo. They have so many animals there and some that I've never seen.

For dinner we found the best sushi, and for dessert, we had sorbet.

Today, our last day, Brendan and I visited the Berlin Wall memorial. I have been very obsessed with seeing this since visiting the war memorial museum in Caen. I have so many thoughts on the Berlin Wall...you don't have time for them all probably because you have to go eat dinner or something. That's okay, we can talk about it soon. Basically, this wall was a bad thing, and we are smiling because it is gone (except this part, which they left on purpose). 

Above view demonstrates how wide the "death strip" was. Over 1,000 people died trying to cross, many of them were children or teenagers. 

Some things that surprised me:
Germans are really pretty open to discussing their personal experiences from this point in history. Local people join tourists at the memorial (of course, they come for a different reason-to remember lost loved ones). A quote (paraphrased) I heard today from a west Berliner "we would hear about how many people had been shot in the east and then we would hear the weather. Everyone felt this was a crime against humanity, but we had to live with it. Everyone lived with it" 
You really can't see anything over the wall, unless you can climb to an observation deck.
It was really thick and there were multiple walls/barbed wire in between the walls. 
Seriously: it surprises me that it happened and that it was there for so long. It was a really bad idea. It makes me wonder what current world situations everyone will later regret. Hmmm. 
It was all a lot to think about, so I went and ate a 20 dollar salad at a vegan place. It was the best salad of my life.  
Then, the three of us consumed this cheese plate: 

It was the best end to the best trip. 
I'll still be thinking about all that I've learned--about history, this world, and my place in it (hint: I'm not that important, but it's okay) for as long as I live. I want to read up on many topics explored, and one day, I hope to come back to Europe. But if that day takes a long time, I'll have to hold on to the memory of being in my late twenties in Europe and pretending to be in my early twenties in Europe (to get the student discount) and how it felt. 
It felt amazing--the world was ours. It also felt confusing--there were a lot of subway closures and we don't read other languages. It felt scary. It felt exhilarating. Sometimes it was tiring, sometimes too hot, too cold, or too rainy: 

It made me appreciate home more (didn't expect that, but my love for my own country grew). It made me realize that most people don't dislike Americans (that's just a myth). In fact, most people were really really nice, Like absurdly friendly and going out of their way to help us find our way or communicate. I will be more aware of helping visitors now. 
I'm glad to be going home because it's where I'm from...but I'm sure everyone feels that way. But I'll miss it here. 
I do miss my family, free bathrooms, and free ketchup though. 
If you've read all this, you've done more reading than me this summer. I couldn't really focus on any novel. But using my time to blog was useful for helping me to remember...but now, I must use my time to pack (and get approximentally 4 hours of sleep!) The voyage continues in the AM. Wish us luck!!
<3 S&B 

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