Postcard from Berlin

Monday, February 12, 2018

"The Journey Is On"

Our first weekend adventure flew by as fast as it came! After getting settled into our second room of the trip (cabin #2), Chandler, Hailey, and I set out for the airport. We took a train from Malmö that stops at the airport in Copenhagen. From the gate, we walked to the plane and climbed the stairs to board. I always love boarding planes using the stairs! I feel like I'm in a movie (like the Lindsey Lohan Parent Trap) or someone important like the President or Kate Middleton #inmydreams. 

The plane to Berlin, was very, very small. I chatted to the man who was sitting beside me. He was grading papers, so I asked if he was in the education field. He is a Computer Science professor at a university in Gothenburg. He is originally from Germany, so we had quite the discussion about the different education systems we have seen/experienced. We had to take a small shuttle from the plane to the baggage claim, or as they call it here the baggage reclaim. Once I was back with the gals, they joked about the new friend I made. While on the shuttle, a lady introduced herself to us, saying that she overhead my conversation on the flight and agreed that it's all about balance in the education field. She lived in Texas for a short period of time because of her husband's job! She now teaches English. The world is a small place indeed.

Aledo Flat Stanley, Torchy & Donna Park Flat Stanley are all ready for Berlin!

Hilton Berlin
After the bags were collected, we took a taxi to our hotel for the weekend. We passed many of the major sights during the drive and it made us so excited for the next couple days of exploring. We stayed at the Hilton Berlin, and I highly recommend it! We knew we would be huge fans as soon as we stepped into the lobby. The warm, yellow lighting was cozy and welcoming! We had a little mix up with the room we originally booked. It was a little small for what we needed. The staff was very helpful and helped arrange a bigger room for us. The window from our room gave us the perfect view of a church across the street. We ate breakfast at the hotel each morning and our eggs came with a view on the side as well! It was the perfect place to lay our heads after a full day of adventuring.


View from our hotel room! 

Berlin Wall Memorial 
We started off Saturday morning, walking around the Berlin Wall Memorial. February is not peak season for tourism in Berlin. We had the memorial mostly to ourselves, except for a few locals walking their dogs. It was a peaceful, somber morning that really set the tone for the rest of the day. I was really moved by one of the plaques that told the story about a woman who jumped out of her window, while being nine months pregnant to escape to the other side of the wall. First, I can't imagine trying to jump out of a second story window while being pregnant. Second, I can't wrap my mind around having to make that decision. Jumping out a window, could possibly hurt the baby and yourself, but it was a better choice than staying on the other side of the wall. A small happy ending in a dark time, the lady made it to the other side and the baby was born three days later. Let's give a round of a applause for this mom and all the other strong mommy's out there who daily make tough decisions to better the lives of their children. 

Named after the 57 people that were able to escape, using the tunnel. 

Dark Worlds Tour 
One of the teachers at MIS, recommend looking into an underground tour while we were in Berlin. You have to go early to buy the tickets for the tour, because the place is known to sell out. We got there not long after it opened, and decided to do the first English tour of the day. This is something else I would highly recommend to do if you ever find yourself in Berlin! Our tour took us through the air-raid shelters of the underground station close by. The tour guide was great and full of information!  It was a unique experience and I quite enjoy getting told about something rather than reading a small plaque about it. You can't take pictures in the tour, but their website is filled with them if you wanted to browse. 

I love the character of the street lights here! 

After exploring underground, we stopped to re-fuel for lunch. When looking things up, we saw a lot of great reviews for a place called Burgermeister. A little silly to get a burger here when there are so many places back in the states, but seriously one of the best burgers I have ever had! The place is housed in an old train station bathroom. It's small, but as you can see from the pictures it was a very popular place!

How Hailey & I feel about paying for bathrooms *big thumbs down*

East Side Gallery 
The day was filled with lots of conversations about the Berlin Wall. We discussed how hard it would be took look at something that caused so much divide between the people in the city. On the other hand, we also couldn't  imagine the wall not being there to look at. If it was all erased, it would almost be erasing the pain that it brought. The East Side Gallery is an open-air gallery with different murals painted on some of the remains of the Berlin Wall. This is one of my favorite spots in Berlin! The murals are full of inspiration. My creative tank feels full every time I leave. Something about all the different colors in the murals speaks to me.  I also love how something so ugly & hateful was turned into something beautiful. It is now a great platform to share many powerful messages of peace! 

When I saw this mural, I thought of my students! There are indeed "small" people but I know they can all do "small" things to change the world! 

I loved this one! The world is just outside your window. 

"Frieden" means peace! 

Checkpoint Charlie & Topography of Terror Museum 
After our fill of the arts, we walked to Checkpoint Charlie and from there took a short walk to the Topography of Terror Museum. This is a free museum, highlighting the impact of the Nazi Regime. Again, many of the things were interesting to read about, but still something this time in history  is so hard to wrap my mind around. I used my fingers to comb through my hair as I read about women whose heads were shaven, trying to imagine the humiliation. Something that I found interesting, is that they had pictures of some of the men in the Nazi Regime. Under their pictures, there was a description of their job during this time, where they fled after the war, and if they were ever sentenced. Many were sentenced for the thousands of murders that took place. But, many of them served very small sentences or did not even finish the whole sentence. 

Alexanderplatz & The World Clock 
We ended the day walking around Alexanderplatz. This area is home to the TV Tower and the World Clock. For dinner, we walked to Dolores, the most yummy burrito place! I actually ate here two years ago when I last visited Berlin..... some things never change. They also have a mint lemonade that is very refreshing! 

Circa 2016

Circa 2018

The Reichstag 
We started off Sunday morning with a tour of the Parliament building.  The previous day, we used the subway as our main transportation. The next day, we used Uber. While the efficiency of the subway is great, the only thing you see through windows is the walls underground. In the car, seeing the major landscapes while driving around is simply breathtaking. The tickets to the Reichstag are free, but have to be booked in advance. Our tickets were for the earliest tour at 8am. We arrived 15 minutes early, like asked,  and waited out in the cold for security to open. Once inside the building we took the elevator up to the glass dome. From inside the dome, you get a stunning 360 degree view of the city. You can grab a free audio tour that points out major landmarks and buildings as you walk up to the top of the dome. The information given was perfect, not too little but also not too much. 

Had to pick-up these fun socks! 

lion girlies waiting to get inside security!! 

Brandenburg Tor
After taking in the views from the dome, we headed to the Brandenburg Gate, a place you see on all the Berlin postcards! A major landmark in the city, and where Ronald Reagan famously said "Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate!" Chandler and I tried a jumping picture, and you can look below for the result of that. There is a reason that her middle name is Grace and mine for sure is not.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe 
This memorial is very close to the Brandenburg Gate. There is also a small museum underneath the memorial. The memorial was designed by an American architect. The different sized concrete slabs have no distinct meaning. The significance of the memorial is open to your interpretation. The slabs on the outer edge of the memorial are short, and easy to see over. The more you walk into the middle of the memorial, the slabs get increasing highly, till they are taller than you. My thoughts on it is that at the beginning of this time in history, people could see over what was going on, similar to the slabs on the outside of the memorial. As time went on, it was not so easy to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Soon everything was surrounded by something bigger than itself. The same feeling you get standing next to the slabs in the middle of the memorial. 

Berlin Cathedral 
The cathedral is breathtaking! It is beautiful to look at the light color of the domes compared to the contrast of the dark stone. I am always blown away by the details of the churches in Europe. They truly are a work of art!  

Art Market 
By the cathedral, there was an street art market. The booths were lined up one after another, with the same red and creme tops. Besides Christmas ornaments, I like to try and find a painting or sketch of the places I visit. I have started a gallery wall of all the places I have collected thus far. This trip, I decided on a watercolor painting of the Berlin Cathedral. I love how the artist made the dome more colorful. The bare trees in front of the cathedral were a perfect representation of what the trees looked liked during our visit. The artist was kind enough to take a picture with one of my student's Flat Stanley! I think Flat Stanley is an art form in his own little way. Who knows, maybe one of my students will be an artist one day! Plus, I think I convinced him to move to Texas and became an art teacher....just maybe. haha 

Museum Island 
We took a walk around Museum Island before heading back to our hotel to check out for the weekend. We didn't have enough time to go inside any of the museums, but the buildings were just as pretty as the treasures that they hold.

With all the rich history, Berlin has stolen my heart! It's on the list of my favorite cities. Berlin will be in my dreams tonight, but this week in Malmö has some adventures ahead, including: a field trip, Valentine's Day, fish casserole on the lunch menu, and leaving for Paris! Exciting times ahead for the Camp Malmö girls!


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