Wednesday, December 19, 2012

These Boots Were Made for Walking - Days 9, 10 & 11

Berlin >> London

The next day I took the tube to Bernaeur Strasse and learned a lot about the Berlin Wall.

The red/orange posts to the right represent where it used to stand and the land to it's left was technically "no man's land" - or rather, solely the government's land.

Representation of an old observation tower with the new (quite different) observation tower in the background.

There used to be a tunnel here used to escape from one side to the other.

When they realized that people were jumping from the windows of the buildings right on the border to the other side, they bricked them all up.

Remnants of those buildings.  Can you see where the windows would be?

A church used to stand here in "no man's land."  Members of the congregation lived in both West and East Berlin.  Half the congregation was blocked from attending the church and eventually the church was demolished.  This cross was originally on top of the church and fell off as the church fell to the ground (see below).  Someone stole it and hid it in order to preserve a bit of the church's history, and now it is placed here along this part of the 'Berlin Wall walk'.  It is bent from the fall.

The cross goes flying.

I then walked to Bertolt Brecht's house!  He's a very very famous German playwright and theatre director who changed the face of theatre in the 20th century.

I've studied Brecht a lot so this was incredibly exciting!

This house is where he and his wife, actress Helene Weigel, lived for the last few years of Brecht's life.  And the room above is where he passed away.  His wife left the entire floor in which he lived untouched after his death, so it was almost like you could feel his presence there with you.  I wasn't allowed to take pictures in the apartment, so the picture above is a picture of a picture that was located in the lobby.

Brecht and Helene's graves were located in the cemetery right next door.

Quite underwhelming for such an influential man, but I guess that's how Brecht would've preferred it.

Down the street a ways is the Berliner Ensemble - the German theatre company Brecht established in 1949 East Berlin.  I got tickets while I was there to see a show for that night, cause...why not?

Checkpoint Charlie - the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between the East and West during the Cold War

The spot specifically was the American Sector

And there was a museum...which I went in of course!

Back at my show.  I went to a concert of sorts that was made up entirely of Brecht's scenes and songs.  It was all in German and I didn't understand a word, but it was still entertaining - at points.

Yet another eventful day in Berlin!

Sunday I slept in quite a bit and then headed into town near Potsdamer Platz to go to Berlin Connect - the beginnings of a new branch of Hillsong Church.  It was great to find and connect with another church family while abroad.  It was a bit of familiar in the vast unfamiliarity.  The people were wonderful.  A woman I had met while at Hillsong Amsterdam the week before put me in contact with another woman who was involved with Berlin Connect.  It was perfect!  And yet another example of how God can meet you wherever you happen to be.

I had a great weekend in Berlin, saw some beautiful things, learned a lot, and met some wonderful and quite intriguing people, but by this point (after a week of traveling through Europe) I was ready to head back to my home in London.  Monday morning I awoke bright and early to catch my morning flight back so that I could make it to my required British politics lecture that evening.  What a day.  What a week.  What a trip.

My fall break was certainly a success, with pictures and memories to last a lifetime.

These Boots Were Made for Walking - Day 8


Friday I woke up to explore Berlin and all it's city center had to offer.

The TV Tower

View outside from a church I went into briefly to look around

Said church with Berliner Dom in the background (more to follow on that)

Views from the top of TV tower.  That park below is where I was just moments before.  Great views of the entire city!

I then had lunch and tea at the top of the tower in a 360* rotating restaurant.


Mozzarella and tomato salad.  What presentation!

A shot of me in front of the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral).  Hands down my favorite thing in Berlin.  It was such a beautiful building and you can climb to the top and walk around outside, which has beautiful views of Berlin.  Better, in my opinion, than the TV tower.

Located on Museum Island (Museumsinsel)

Playing with reflections

Climbing up

My main man

Overlooking the city

Re-boosting my energy level

Then I went in a few museums as I wandered down Unter den Linden (the main street).

Came across this in one of the museums.  I learned a great deal about Germany's history - or rather re-learned because it's been a while since I've taken a world history class (six years to be exact).

Soon enough I came to the main attraction - Brandenburg Gate.

Trying to take a picture of myself in front of it...

...And then these nice guys offered to take a picture for me.  Much better!

Looking back on Reichstag - parliament - over the River Spree.

I got dinner at Vapiano's, which is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC, but it actually originated in Germany, so I was glad to try it at the source.  Delicious as always!

Oh hey U.S. Embassy.  It was very comforting to pass little bits of America every once in a while.

"Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe"
Quite eerie at night, but a very daunting installation in general.

I covered quite a bit of Berlin on my first day and was able to make a solid list of the remaining things I had yet to cover for the next day.

Berlin is quite the city.  Certainly bigger than the other two cities I had visited that week, and from what I've heard, it's kind of like the Manhattan of Germany (although it's the capital and NYC isn't).

Friday, December 14, 2012

I'm Going Home

Well the day is finally here!  I am all packed and ready to start my journey home in t minus seven hours and I could not be more excited.  So many thoughts and emotions have flooded my brain this week as I finished up finals and started preparing to leave - mentally and physically.  It's been a wonderful journey and I still have so much left to share.  I will continue to post photos and stories over the next couple weeks so that I can catch you all up on the remainder of my travels and experiences I had this semester.  It was quite a full one.  So stay tuned, there is more to come, but I'll be writing from America from now on.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

These Boots Were Made for Walking - Days 6 & 7

Prague >> Berlin

The next day I slept in quite a bit and then explored the Jewish history of Prague.

This was the Old Jewish Cemetery, which is part of the Jewish Quarter in central Prague.  It started being used as a cemetery in the 15th century and now holds thousands of gravestones literally falling all over each other.  It was quite the site to see.

After looking in a few synagogues and other Jewish buildings occupied during the war I walked around Old Town Square - the center of it all.

The famous Astronomical Clock.

Horse-drawn carriages and food carts.  What more could you want?

Then I wandered to this little place (not so little), often visited by Albert Einstein and other intellectuals.

I had quite the delicious meal.  Waldorf salad and pumpkin soup.  They also put a pencil and pad of paper on each table.  I imagine they were there in case you needed to jot down some great idea that popped into your head as you were eating and chatting...I doodled :)

It was a really chill atmosphere.

Then the city lit up.  I really adore Prague at night.

And I waited for the famous chiming of the clock that happens every hour on the hour.  There were trumpets and everything!

And then I had this delicious thing before heading back to the dorm!  I sat at the table across from three women from Scotland - I could tell by their strong accents.  I struck up a conversation and we discussed my travels, Scotland plans, Prague excursions, and American (and Scottish) politics over our desserts.  They were the sweetest.  I love meeting new people.

I then went back to the dorm after two full days of exploring.  Prague was a great city.  Very different than Amsterdam, but also very interesting.

The next day (Thursday) I woke up, packed my duffle bag, and got myself to the train station where I proceeded to ride five hours into Berlin - passing through lots of German countryside.  After reading a bit of the information I had gathered on Berlin, I basically napped and listened to music the rest of the time.  I wanted to get as much rest as possible so that I could finish out my fall break strong.  As you can imagine I was getting quite tired by this point.  I have no idea how people travel around Europe for months at a time.  A week is plenty for me :)  I like having a home base to travel from.

Anywho...after figuring out how to get the apartment from the train station by public bus, I met the guys I was staying with.  They were friends of a girl I met at church in London who is originally from Germany and they were the sweetest for letting me stay with them.  We had quite a fun time.  They were very chill guys and we had lots of great conversation and listened to tons of music.

So when I arrived around nine that night we walked around a bit and got to know each other and then I passed out on their very comfy couch.  I needed my rest if I was going to go out exploring some more in this new city!

City three of three, here I come.