Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Berlin, Germany

So right now I really should be packing to go home....but that is kinda depressing so instead I'm going to write about Berlin!

Last Sunday Ashely and I went to Berlin for three fabulous days and I am going to start from the very beginning...the trip to the bus to go to Berlin :)

To begin with, Ashley and I stayed up all night and did not sleep. At 5am I left my house to go meet Ashley at the bus at central station, mind you we didn't have to be there until 6:15 and the bus wasn't scheduled to leave until 6:30 and my train ride is only supposed to be 26 minutes. So I get to Hareskov station and I get on the train, no big deal. Then the train stops at Svanemollen Station, and I have to change trains, no big deal either because they have been working on the train lines for the past four months and I'm used to this. Normally the next train is either already there, or is there within the next fiveish minutes...not this time. I waited....and waited....and waited...after ten minutes I go to the driver of the train I just got off and asked him when the train was supposed to be there. Well, the next train isn't supposed to be there until 6:06...major problem. You see, that means that I would get to the station at around 6:22 and then I have to RUN to the bus, but it is definitely doable. Can you guess what happens next? The train doesn't come...go figure. So I call Ashley as I'm running up stairs to go find a bus. Luckily she knew exactly which one for me to take and I'm on my way. She told the bus driver (the one taking us to Berlin, not the one I was on) that I was running late and he wasn't so nice and said that he absolutely had to leave at 6:30. My bus finally gets to the station at 6:26 and I sprint to the bus...luckily I made it :)

Then I slept the entire way to Berlin, all 7 hours of it, even when we had to get off the bus to get on the ferry, I slept.

We got to Berlin around 1 or 1:30. First we went to the nearest train station, because we were going on the free NewBerlin Tour at 4 and we weren't exactly sure where we were going. We go to buy our train passes for the day but guess what? The stupid machine doesn't take American cards and there is no ATM in sight...we later found out that it was the only train stop without an ATM, go figure. So we walk and walk some more until we find one, withdraw money, and walk all the way back :) Once we get back we find our way to the tour meeting spot, which was a million times easier than we thought it would be and we are a little early; so we just walk around to some tourist shops and take pictures of a bunch of random things.

The Berlin Tour was fabulous! It took us to a bunch of places such as:
  • The Brandenburg Gate
  • The Reichstag
  • Where Hitler's Bunker used to be
  • Holocaust Memorial
  • The Book Burning Memorial
  • Checkpoint Charlie
  • Potsdamer Platz
  • SS Headquarters
  • The Berlin Wall
  • TV Tower
  • Gendarmenmarkt
  • Museum Island
  • Pariser Platz
  • Luftwaffe HQ
  • Bebelplatz
Although it said we were going to the Berlin Wall...well technically we did...just not to the "good" part. Our guide showed us where is used to be and a tiny section that was still standing and told us how to get to the longest section of the wall still standing. The tour lasted three and a half hours and by the end we were exhausted and hungry.

So after the tour we decided to have a "German" meal...aka a bratwurst and Augustiner. To accomplish this we went to a random sausage stand that we had passed on the tour and got a bratwurst and then we went to a place that our tour guide had pointed out to have "the greatest beer (Augustiner) on the face of the planet." He was right.

Finally we went to go find our hostel. It was close...yet hard to find. We make it up to our room and decide in advance that all we want to do is shower and go to sleep so that way we can wake up early and make the most of our time. Well we get up to our room and we see only one person in there...and he is staring at us. Since he won't quit staring we decide it would better if we could at least see since he wasn't sleeping and we ask if we can turn on the lights and he says we can. He glared creepily the entire time and every now and again he would attempt some random phrase in english that he knew. After we had both taken showers and safely locked our belongings in a locker we pass out for the night.

The next morning was fabulous because we got a free breakfast at the hostel! It was by mistake but who cares. On our second day we started back at Brandenburg Gate and basically walked the route of the tour from the day before. We wanted to go back and read some of the information that was posted at some of the stops and we also wanted to get some better pictures. We did this for most of the day and just goofed off like normal and along our way we came across some bears. Not REAL bears but decorative bears and we took lots of random pictures with them; however, I only have pictures of Ashley with the bears because she told me that I can have the pictures she took once I finally post my at the end with the pictures of the bears that is Ashley :) To end our second night in Berlin we went to the famous Hard Rock like we did in every country we went to together. Ashley got worried at first because they were out of margarita glasses but they had them in the basement because they had gotten a shipment in that morning. So all was well and we had a FABULOUS night :D

Our last day in Berlin was kinda somber. Once we got up and checked out of the hostel we headed up to northern Germany to Oranienburg, Germany to go to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. It took us about an hour to and hour and a half to get up there but it was worth it. Once we got there we decided to just tour the place on our own, so we got a map from the front desk and went for it. We took our time as we went and really just took it all in. It was so strange to see places like role call square, the bunkers, the crematorium, the shooting trench, prison, guard towers, and the autopsy tables. The camp was built in 1938 and was liberated on 22 April 2945 and during the time that it was functioning it is estimated to have murdered between 30 and 35 thousand people...

The only thing we did on our last day was visit Sachsenhausen, once we finished there we got on the train back to Berlin to catch our bus back to Copenhagen for our last week in Denmark.

A piece of the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery

Brandenburg Gate

Here is Ashley with a bunch of bears :)

The Gate at Sachsenhausen

Memorial near the crematorium and gas chambers.

A wash room that had made it through a fire.