Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hallo Berlin!

If I would haves written this blog after my first day in Berlin, I would have said it was unique, which is how I describe things that I don't like, but don't want to offend people. However, now that I'm leaving the city, my opinion completely changed. 

I landed at the Berlin airport and was completely confused and everyone spoke German and all the signs were in German and it was very intimidating. Plus, as you might remember from my last blog from Rome, my flight was delayed and I was 2 hours late to the city and missed the Contiki check-in. I'm a pretty confident person, but I was having some major FOMO (fear of missing out). What if all the people were already friends and had already left for dinner and then I'd be the weird girl trying to fit in. Luckily, I got there and the group was in the bar so I knew they were my people. I ran up to the room and met my roommate - Kristy. That was the other thing I was worried about. What would she be like? Would she be a neat freak and crazy about the room being spotless? Or quiet and not liking to go out? Or crazier than me? Or what if she was like 18, a total slooty slooty and brining guys back to the room... Luckily, none of those things were here and she has been great! She is from New York, is around the same age, and has not brought any gents back. It's been a perfect pairing. Here we are at the Berlin Wall.

So the first night we went out to a German restaurant and had a decent meal of sausages and potatoes and, my favorite part - beer!!

 We went to an Irish bar after and had sticker shock and the prices for alcohol. A Jameson and Ginger ale was 9 euro. Beers were only 5 euro so I quickly made the switch. We split off into a smaller group and got to know each other a little better. In addition to Kristy, there was Brianna from Australia. She is hilarious and has the funniest little sayings like 'tick' when she is about to do something fun. 'Got a beer in Germany, tick'. And she also says 'wink' like 'Sam is leaving the bar with that Swedish guy, wink'. Then there was Sal from New Jersey who is an architect. We haven't hung out with him much since, so I dont have much to say about him. Finally, there was Nick from London and he offered the most drama for our first night. He actually ended his tour after this first night because of some personal  issues (laying down on the train tracks threatening to kill himself). It's quite a long story and I have much more to tell so we will leave it at that.

Our second day began with a brief tour of a concentration camp. I'm not sure the best way to describe this tour other than underwhelming. It was renovated quite a bit and many of the facilities were torn down so it was really left up to our imagination. In comparison, some people had been to Aushwitz and they said everything is as it was and it is horrifying including nail marks on the walls of the gas chamber. Not that I want to see that sort of thing, but this one didn't have much to it. Here are some pictures to help convey what I'm trying to say.

After the concentration camp, we wandered around the city and didn't really find much. It was very disappointing and reminded me of every other city. Sure, there were pretty buildings, but nothing special. Oh here is another old baroque building, let's take a picture. By the way, the girl in the middle of the pic is Lisa. She is from Texas and is a litigation consultant. Her, Brianna, Kristy, and I have sort of stuck together along the way, but she leaves us in Prague.

We walked to the Reichstag, German's parliament building and one of the most beautiful buildings with a combination of old world and modern technology. Unfortunately, we weren't able to tour, but made reservations for the following day. We got some mulled wine along the way and that was my favorite part of the day. You can drink alcohol on the street which is definitely a top pastime of mine. Walking to the train station we found the most adorable Christmas market and decided we would go back the next day.

That night, we went to a Hofbraugh house for a very traditional German mean and stein of beer. It was awesome and reminded me of Octoberfest by the bay a few years ago with Morgan, Sami, Colin, and Matt so I got a bit homesick. As with most sicknesses, a liter of beer will cure anything :). I got some veal schnitzel with a potato salad and it was awesome. Here are some photos from the night.

After dinner we went on an I Spy tour where we learned about some escape attempts along the Berlin Wall. The whole Berlin Wall thing blows my mind. These people built a wall overnight and then shot people who tried to cross. WTF? It was brought down in the early 90s so it wasn't even long ago that people were going through this. Part of the tour included a couple of stops at bars and then to a night club. Brianna ended up finding 1,70 euro shots of tequila so I could tell how our night was going to go. We got to the club and they played some great music and we all danced. If there was ever a time I wish I could have had my bestie with me, it was here. Before we knew it, it was 5 in the morning and we had a 9am walking tour. Holy hell. I headed home and immediately passed out concerned how I would even make the tour that I paid for. 

Needless to say, I missed the walking tour. I think drunkenly Kristy and I decided to shut off our alarms because we had two set. I was hurting and struggled to get ready, but didn't want to waste a day. We finally left around 12:30 and picked up some 3 euro pizza that was near the hotel. Feeling only slightly better, we headed out to the East Side Gallery which is the only part of the Berlin Wall that still remains. This was truly impressive and the art work was absolutely gorgeous. Check it out.

We caught the train when were done with the wall and then headed to the Reichstag for our tour. After Hitler's ruling they decided to build their parliament building with a glass dome to symbolize that their congress is transparent and the people can and will know what is going on at the top levels. It's a free tour and definitely a recommended stop in Berlin. Here are some shots...

On our way to the Christmas market, we saw the Holocaust memorial. I wish I had more information for the meaning, but, I missed the walking tour. Sorry about that.

I absolutely loved the Christmas market. There were little stations with sausages, pretzels, candy, cookies, mulled wine, beer, etc. It also where I have the most shots of food in or around my mouth, more than anyone should ever have. I didn't include the one with the chocolate covered banana because there were too many falic shaped items in my pictures. I've really hit my stride with food here in Germany. We had a couple of girls from the group join us at the Christmas market - Caroline and Jess. Caroline is a Contiki tour manager in Greece and is originally from New Zealand. Jess if another one from Australie and she is quite soft spoken, but very sweet. She is staying at the end in Budapest and then going to Germany so I might hang around with her. 

Now that I'm heading to Prague, I can say that I really did enjoy Berlin. The top things are the East Side Gallery, the Reichstag, and the Christmas Market. The food was consistently good here, which was a plus. The people I have met are so fun and I'm looking forward to our next stop.

Auf Weidershen!

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