This week's post is going to be more of a photo gallery with little captions!
East Side Gallery Adventure
It was a crazy experience to stand next to the wall of Berlin and think about how such a seemingly small barrier represented such a monumental divide in history. The artwork on the wall is incredible to say the least! I included some of my favorite pieces that I saw. In addition to the art work, there is a little park between it and the Spree River. We relaxed on the grass, soaking up the sun, listening to music, and watching the boats ride by on the river.
At one end of Museum Island, the Berliner Dom is a beautiful sight to see! We had walked past it several times but decided to adventure around the inside this time. The main area is stunning! We were lucky enough to hear several minutes of organ music, which really made the experience. The top of the Dom provides a great view of the city and it was pretty cool to see where every place we have visited was in relation to it. The crypts below the church were only very recently opened and were eerily interesting.
I discovered this square after class one day. Even though I have been here for two weeks, I had never seen this area even though it is only a block away from my school. The buildings here are the French Friedrichstadtkirche (french church), Konzerthaus (theatre), and the German church. At the time of the construction of these churches, the government wanted to show a level of equality between the German church and the French church. Therefore, they constructed two seemingly identical churches across the square from each other. The German church is now a museum type structure with information regarding the Bundestag. The atmosphere in the square felt like a movie. It was sunny, in the 70's, there was music playing and people were sitting all over the place, reading and talking. I sat on the steps of the German church to read for about ten minutes. It was great! Walking back to the hostel from this square I passed Humboldt University and one of Berlin's Opera Houses. The picture of the Opera House illustrates the level of construction going on in Berlin on all of the old buildings.
Berlin Tempelhof Airport
We checked out this place one of our instructors told us about before a group dinner. It is an abandoned airport that has been converted into a park. The actual airport section has been closed off and apparently is the home to a good bit of wildlife. The runway and all the outdoor area has been left open and is used for various sporting activities. There were competitive cyclists zooming in circles around the entire area, people flying kites, and even a group of people learning how to unicycle. We just sat and people watched for a while but are planning on returning and having a picnic!
Working in our corner in BaxPax hostel
Just a typical evening in our hostel doing all of our readings for class!
Spree River boat ride
One of the evenings last week we made the impromptu decision to check out the boat tour that goes along the Spree River and departs near our hostel. The hour long tour was relaxing and provided a cool new view of some of the places we had already seen. They had drinks on the boat (which were way overpriced) and food (which didn't seem too appealing) but the price was only around 12 Euro and I think totally worth it.
Visit with Professor Hirte, a member of the Bundestag
As part of our program, we will be meeting with various officials and members of the different political parties throughout the trip. Our first visit was with professor Hirte, a member of the Christian Democratic Party in the Bundestag. We met with him and his team for about an hour, discussing his various stances, current issues, and insights into the politics of Germany. He answered all of our questions with great candor. My favorite response was "I do what I want" when asked how he uses his freedom from being elected in a Single Member District. Maybe only political science people will think this is funny but oh well!
Jüdisches Museum Berlin
After our visit to Parliament, we took a tour through the Jewish museum. The exhibits were very informative but my favorite part was the symbolic architecture of the museum itself. The Garden of Exile exhibit was very similar to the Holocaust memorial that I had previously visited. We discussed how the various elements of the exhibit such as the uneven surfaces, inclines, oppressive barriers symbolized the experience of German Jews. The interactive exhibit, which are the pictures of the metal cut out faces, placed the visitor in the position of the perpetrator. As you walked through the room over the "faces", the loud clanging noise of metal on metal was meant to represent the screams of the faces. While not a pleasant experience, it was powerful and commanding, forcing the visitor to play this uncomfortable part of perpetrator. The tower we visited last. It felt like a jail cell: dark, barren, concrete walls with only one tiny corner of light placed too high up to see out the window.
Over the weekend we visited Potsdam, the summer palaces of the Prussian Kings. The gardens were immense and beautiful. It was very easy to get lost along all the winding paths and various enclaves off of the main paths. We only explored for a couple hours but one could easily spend days walking through the gardens. I would love to have a garden like this! We also took a tour through the inside of one of the palaces to see all of the rooms. My favorite anecdote during the tour inside the palace was the fact that the Queen did summer in this palace with the king. She preferred to summer in Berlin, which means that one couple summered in two separate palaces. Talk about grandeur.
Random food tidbit
I've had more gelato here than anything else. The flavors Nutella, Coffee, caramel, and dark chocolate all make an appearance in this cone. Perfection!
This past weekend was our last in Berlin! We leave for the rest of our trip a week from Thursday!