After getting just enough sleep to get by, I left my hostel at 5:40 in the morning with plans to hopefully end up at the airport for my upcoming flight. God willing I would not get lost, even though it wouldn’t be the first time. After learning my lesson after that whole Eurostar fiasco to get to Paris, I had more than enough time to kick back and relax at the airport. And relax, I did. I could not have been more beat from the previous night as well as the continuous minimal sleep I had been getting lately. I truly don’t understand where I am getting the energy to last this long. I guess when you have historic cities beckoning from your hostel door it’s hard not to get a little extra pep in your step. Once my plane touched down into Berlin, I basically had to start from scratch by learning a new language and culture. Trying to find my dad at the airport was a frustrating start to the day (just what I wanted on short sleep). With all the miscommunication at the information desks, I found myself going from terminal to terminal and passing by areas I had already been before. Finally, I found the old man and we got our transit cards before heading to my dad’s first hostel. Seeing that my dad was already frazzled from the trip over the pond I tried to calm him down with the need to be patient and to take things as they come which have become more and more natural to me by the day. After getting settled into the hostel, my dad could not help admitting how unimpressed he was with the hostel By contrast, in my opinion I felt like I had never left Versailles and that I was bunking up in the Chateau for a couple nights. Never had I seen a hostel with so much space, legitimately sized lockers, and a table, an actual freaking table (living in hostels has definitely trained me to appreciate my own room and the little things in life). Despite our exhaustion, we found the necessary energy to see what Berlin was all about. Our first stop was Checkpoint Charlie, which had been the entrance point into the American portion of Berlin from the East but is now where tourists get suckered into paying for a picture with a German dressed as an American soldier. The topography of terror and Berlin Wall Memorial had every bit of detail about the Nazi regime you could imagine including their ascension to power, annihilation of the Jewish race, and their displeasure with those that did not fit into their ideal makeup as a member of the Aryan race. Parts of the exhibit and monument were interesting but with little sleep it turned into basically reading an overly extensive history book as I sadly bobbed my head while standing up. Next to the exhibit just down the street stood a museum with a random chandelier made of bicycles rising through the center of the building. While walking down the many streets to get familiar with Berlin I couldn’t help but notice all the sidewalks designated for bicyclists. London loves to jog while Berlin has a thing for riding bicycles. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was a sobering moment as this square was packed with granite blocks set in a grid pattern to commemorate the many Jews killed by the Nazis during the war (this may not have been the intent, but to me, the blocks seemed to represent headstones in a cemetery). Although a newer looking city compared to Paris, Berlin still shows its history but a mournful history at that, with the great deal of destruction and despair left from the war. After getting pictures taken in front of the Reichstag, the German parliament building, and Brandenburg Gate, we walked the long walk to the Victory Column. As it turned out, a marathon was being run right next to us along the way at the edge of Tiergarten Park. Since I could not help myself, I ran along with them for a short while toting my backpack in khaki shorts (I’m sure they were wondering what the heck this stupid American was doing but heck why not). Towards the end of the walk, one side of this busy street was shut down as police ridden motorcycles flew by. Maybe I am just making this up but it sure seemed like the German president was the reason for this traffic disturbance since escort cars surrounded the area and in particular a select few vehicles while the German White House stood just down the way. The Victory Column was a beautiful monument of architecture but our bellies were growling so we headed for hopefully a German restaurant. Unfortunately to my dismay the one I picked out near the hostel was closed so we regrettably ate at a Spanish restaurant, ehhh. The memorable part of the meal was trying to communicate with a Spanish waitress who could only speak broken English (I felt ridiculous trying to pull off my best Spanish in Germany of all places). After getting a solid night of sleep for a hostel, I am ready to discover some more hidden treasures in Berlin.
Day 10: Planes, Trains, and …. Subways