And it is now that I return to Germany for the second time while I have been abroad. This time we head to the north of the country and hang out in Berlin!!!
The journey from Amsterdam to Berlin was AWESOME! Totally smooth sailing... it only took us a week to get into a groove and from here on out traveling was just fine... I have learned that everything that can go wrong WILL go wrong on vacations. But the train was lovely - more message listening, Phoebe and I watched Sliding Doors on my iPod, and there was a screaming crying baby sitting right behind us... NOT COOL!
When we got to Berlin however I got us lost walking 3 miles in the wrong direction... we even wandered off my Berlin map, so it took us a bit to get back on track... my favorite part of our walking tour was the hospital and the toothless German derelict (there seems to be one in every nation who is attracted to us). We found our way back to the train station where we decided instead of walking we would just take the U-bahn (Berlin's metro)... we got off at Potsdamer Platz and upon exiting the station ran straight into this...
The Berlin Wall!!! It was super awesome! But what should pop into my head whenever I think of the Berlin wall?? David Hasselhoff, I remember seeing footage of him singing as the Berlin Wall came down... the Germans apparently LOVE David Hasselhoff - he's beefy.
We headed to the hostel and put our stuff down... we were supposed to be in a 4 bed female dorm, but instead they put us in a private room!!! YAY!!! They noticed the mix up and instead of changing it, or charging us more, the front desk guy just said he was gonna pretend not to notice - SWEET! They also had a whole lot of rules about the keys and curfew for the hostel... Phoebe told me once we got to our room that she was SO close to saying something like - "wow you guys are real nazis about this place..." but she stopped herself before she said it - SO NOT THE PLACE for that joke.
We went back to Potsdamer for dinner and then back to the hostel for internet and bed... the internet cost 3 euro for an hour... and it seriously took almost an hour for the google homepage to load!!! Phoebe and I were so pissed that we wasted 3 euro on NOTHING!! I left the computer and as I walked away I decided to yell out to the entire lobby - "no one use the computers, the computers have gone bad... thanks for a whole lot of NOTHING!!!!" Phoebe couldn't contain her laughter... it was an awesome epic moment.
The next day we woke up to a delicious breakfast... salami, brie cheese, cereal, bread with honey, hard boiled eggs, etc... yum!!
Then off to the Pergamon Museum... it was an INCREDIBLE SMALL museum compared to what I was use to, but it had some huge architectural historical alters and monuments inside... WAY COOL!
The Pergamon Alter from Athens
The coolest part about the museum is they had this exhibition going on about the gods and goddesses of Greek Mythology... it was awesome seeing the statues and reading about the gods and goddesses... I LOVE greek mythology
The Pergamon took us not even 2 hours to see everything... The audio guide was the thing that took so long... THEY DRONED ON about everything... I ended up skipping a lot out of boredom. Another funny thing was that there were so little other people there... the guards looked genuinely surprised every time I'd walk into a room... like they hadn't seen people in the museum in YEARS!! They also looked suspicious of me and would watch me like a hawk... like I was gonna really cat-like grab a statue and make a break for it.
After the museum we headed over to the Berliner Dome (Berlin Cathedral)
The Berliner Dome also had one of the creepiest crypts I've even been in... this is where tons of the royal family is buried... as well as their small infant children... I saw so many tiny caskets... made me weirded out and sad.
While in the cathedral we got to catch a little bit of live organ music on their gorgeous organ... the only thing I caught from what they were saying was Johan Sebastian Bach... so I assume that is what was played. We also got to climb up the dome... on the way down the stairs there was no one around, so Phoebe and I sang some selections from the score of the Phantom of the Opera... very fitting.
After the Berliner Dome was on to Checkpoint Charlie... with some ice cream - it was so warm in Berlin - 87 degrees!! (by the way all those of you in Phoenix... I have decided that I will die when I return home, because 87 is now hot for me)
Checkpoint Charlie was the place where you had to go through in order to get to East Berlin through the wall... it is an American post in the middle of Berlin!
This sign was awesome
Right next to this sign was a man who poked Phoebe as we walked by and said "peace"... when I walked by I he stamped me on the arm... it said "checkpoint charlie" and had a bear on it (Berlin means bear)
Phoebe ended up going back and getting one too... then this nice man took the shot... he didn't speak a lot of english and he got super professional photographer on us making sure the lighting was right and that he had good photographic composition... I just wanted my camera back eventually
After Checkpoint Charlie we strolled down Unter Den Linden street which means, "under the limes" and it apparently lined with lime tree, although I saw none. We got a burger at a stand... the stand also served beer because beer is served everywhere in Europe... even Disneyland Paris sold beer!!
Then we got down to Brandenburg Tor... This is the most recognizable sight in Berlin and imagine the Berlin wall would have blocked this shot just 19 years ago. We also got our passports stamped with a novelty stamp from CheckPoint Charlie... awesome!
I took my picture with an american flag that was on display there...
Right around the corner is the Reichstag which is the place where Germany's Parliment meet, you could go inside, but the queue was too long... but it has a a gorgeous day so we sat in the grass and soaked in the vitamin D
We were completely finished with our tourist excursions in Central Berlin and it was only 3pm!! What were we gonna do?? We decided to just walk around... it was actually incredibly awesome to have a little relaxing stroll!!
We walked down to Potsdamer Platz... we along our way we realized that they commemorated the path of the Berlin Wall by having these bricks running along the sidewalk and even through the street... way cool!
We also discovered at Potsdamer Platz they have a cinema that shows English films... no subtitles or anything (they must know they have a lot of English tourists with nothing to do in Berlin after 3pm)! We saw Sunshine Cleaning! It was good, I liked it, Phoebe did not. It was cool though because half way through the movie it hit me that I was seeing a movie in Berlin! a very cool moment to remember where I was!!
We had a bit of drama before the film because the ATM wouldn't let me withdrawal money from my account... visit was freaking out about some questionable expenses on my card... yeah, they were all made by me! I was very thankful that they cared, but more upset that they didn't let me take money out!! and I had to pay international phone charges to call and approve the transactions!!
Our last day in Berlin started with a change in location... we had to stay in 2 different hostels because none had 3 days free, so our 3rd night would be in the Charlottenburg part of Berlin. It was SO warm this day that I wore shorts and a tank top!!!
On our way to the new hostel we took a brief detour to see this church, which Phoebe found in the guidebook the day before... it still has the scars of WWII for all to see.
The church is called the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gedachtniskirche. The disappointing part was that as a memorial to the destroyed church, they build that tower of a church right in front of the old one... and it covers up the best view!!!
It was however cool to see a spot of historical architecture in the middle of a city which was so destroyed by WWII bombings, that little remains of history... a majority of the city is only 50 years old... how sad.
We got to our hostel and took a brief rest before we walked over to the Schloss Charlottenburg (Charlottenburg Palace)
We snacked on chocolate spread right out of the packet
It was about this time that another highlight of Europe occurred... A THUNDERSTORM!!! Now some of you may have instantly thought I was being sarcastic, but I wasn't... I LOVE THUNDERSTORMS!! I hadn't heard thunder since last summer I think, so it was a joyous sound. It was also fine because it was still 85 degrees while it was raining and so a stroll through the rain was still awesome! We walked down to Schloss Charlottenburg with Phoebe's umbrella and prepared to sample the Versailles of Berlin... we also enjoyed a traditional German Bratwurst lunch on our way!
Schloss Charlottenburg was built for Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Elector Fredrich III's wife and the first Queen of Prussia. The Gardens were designed by the same landscape designer as Versailles... Phoebe and I weren't expecting much so we were amazed at how beautiful it was!!
The amazing part of it was that it had been almost completely destroyed by bombs in WWII and so a lot of it was reconstructed to look JUST like it did before.
Sophie Charlotte was known for her extensive porcelain collection... since we couldn't take pictures inside the palace, this is from the internet... this is an entire room designed to display her collection... there are over 2700 pieces!
There is also a chapel in the Palace where we enjoyed some impromptu organ music.
Sophie Charlotte was considered a great beauty and had much praise for her "eyebrows which appear to be drawn on by a compass"... a strange compliment indeed.
After we were done with the inside of the Palace it was on to the gardens... still in the rain
When we had completed our tour of the castle we discovered these cell type deals out in front of the palace along the gate... they are meant for the guards I'm sure, but I told Phoebe that is where she could live... we then laughed at how they reminded us of our rooms back in Founders Hall at RoHo... they are apart of a beautiful castle, but still incredibly crappy rooms. haha
We finished off our day with a quick spin around a museum of Picasso art (which I really just don't like) and we decided that Salvidor Dali and Pablo Picasso were following us around Europe - I am not kidding EVERY CITY we went to had a museum or exhibition of Dali and/or Picasso art!! The guards were still suspicious of our presence in the museum, and it didn't help that Phoebe and I found ourselves tired and sitting on one of the benches in front of some painting for a little while - we got on the subject of serial killers for some reason, which I'm sure added to the guards uneasiness.
Dinner was at an italian place with a GREAT DEAL of delicious and cheap lasagna and tiramissu!!
Then we were hold up in the train station of the walk back to our hostel because the rain became a torrential downpour!
The remainder of the evening was spent in our hostel enjoying the AMAZING SHOWER, thunder outside our windows, free internet (that I was kicked off of by some pushy American girl who spoke to me like I didn't understand English - crazy American tourists!!!), and 1/2 of The Sound of Music on my iPod!! Can you believe Phoebe had NEVER seen that movie! I downloaded it because I was hellbent of going on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, so Phoebe needed to understand the movie... she really loved it, which made me tremendously happy!
We again had our own private room, so it was a very lovely night sleep!