Sunday, May 19, 2013

I am a Berliner!

Hello all! Well, today we went to Berlin. On the way there we took local trains because we had what's called a Wochenendticket--a group of five people can get a really cheap ticket to travel together on the weekend, but you can't ride the high-speed rail. We were in the same train car as a group of Fußball fans headed to a regional soccer game. They were all wearing team colors in blue and white and were already pretty excited for early in the morning.
Berlin was amazing! So many cool monuments and history. It's just so amazing that I finally get to see all the monuments and historical places I have read about in my history books. 
Checkpoint Charlie
We saw the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, the Reichstag, and the monument to the Sinti, Roma, and other victims of the Holocaust. We walked what is left of the Berlin Wall, which is now called the East Side Gallery and is decorated with lots of pictures by artists from around the world, and visited Alexander Platz, which used to be on the East German side and has the famous World Clock. Then we visited Checkpoint Charlie, the main point where you could cross back and forth through the Berlin Wall from East to West Berlin. The wall was really cool. It's crazy to think that only 24 years ago Berlin was still divided. Seeing video of people crossing the wall and tearing it down gives me chills. It's such an amazing victory. (The even cooler part is that the first peaceful protests that led to the wall's downfall started in Leipzig! We got to see the church where the first meetings were held and went through a museum in Leipzig about the first protests and how it finally led to Peaceful Revolution and the wall being torn down. There is a fountain in Leipzig that symbolizes how one drop of water can cause a basin to overflow--that drop was the Leipzig demonstrations.) The history is amazing and it makes me never want to leave! (But I will... don't worry mom!) After Checkpoint Charlie we headed down to a festival that was happening called the carnival of customs. Tons of people everywhere--it was so crazy. Lots of interesting people from all over the world. 

Berlin Cathedral
It was really cold when we got up in the morning but we kept shedding layers of clothes and by afternoon it was really hot and we ended up with tan lines on our feet!
Berlin highlights the contrast between buildings that have been around for centuries and very contemporary designs that you see everywhere in German architecture. You never know what is going to be around the next corner, and exploring the city is a lot of fun. 
Before we finally headed home to Leipzig we grabbed some food at the Hauptbahnhof (Central Train Station) and then hopped on the train back. --Mariah

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