With today being our last full day in Berlin I packed the itinerary for the day to be go, go, go! We took the long train over to the Olympia Stadium to see where Jesse Owens dazzled the world and upended Hitler’s stage for his promised dominance from his Aryan race as well the site of the 2006 World Cup. The more I thought about what occurred within that stadium the more I got psyched up as we traveled along to get a glimpse at history. With our luck, we found out the stadium tickets were already bought out for today and tomorrow as past of some flash mob promo to get as many people into the stadium as possible (what are the odds that our trip would just so happen to overlap with this random occurrence since according to the ticket office it almost never sells out. After leaving the stadium plaza with our tails between our legs and thoroughly disappointed we tried to lift our spirits by entering the largest home in Berlin at Schloss Charlottenburg, home to the last surviving palace of the royal family of Prussia. After seeing Versailles and believing it be overhyped as the one of the premier royal palaces in the world, I came in with low expectations. The palace contained far more interesting artwork and majestic, over the top quality than the little house in France. A room with enough porcelain to tame the appetite of any snob from France (wow, I really took this dislike for Versailles to another level) and built in chapel for the family that has some of the finest and detailed woodwork that could match up with many of the churches I have seen thus far. All the walking was getting to us and only some currywurst could possibly cure this ailment. After watching a random guy on the streets yell for the police and the immediately lay his whole body on the curb lane pavement, we took the metro to hackescher markt for some top of the line wurst (sorry about these random observations but this trip has offered some of the best people watching ever). Currywust, if you are not familiar, is sausage with a spicy curry ketchup lathered on top accompanied typically by fries covered in ketchup or mayo or even both. I am not a big fan of sausage but the heat level was definitely up my alley. To complete the meal we had some gelato and macaroons from a gelateria that I heard was good and is a chain around Europe. The raspberry and amarena combo hit the spot and partly quenched my thirst. Just like trying to recreate a seafood experience that you had near the ocean at a Midwestern city restaurant, the macaroons were no comparison to the taste bud supernova from Paris. Just because I was that thirsty I scarfed down some watermelon from the market (I could have easily killed a whole watermelon on the spot from ever approaching dehydration). We roamed around the area to look at and peer into some of the lesser known churches, government buildings, and monuments before making the trek to a park that supposedly contained a fountain surrounded by statues from the German fairy tales written by the Grimms Brothers (not sure what I expected; turns out I couldn’t recognize a single one). The next stop on the whirlwind of a day was the east side gallery that contains great graffiti works of art displayed on some of the still standing Berlin Wall. For graffiti or not, the art was impressive and some of it perfectly captured the time period of the wall being erected and taken down. Much of the artwork contained symbolism about peace and breaking down barriers between races and classes. The most famous is the bit of wall with the two politicians kissing (you will have to look that one up, unfortunately the pictures I have taken are to stubborn to load). My favorite graffiti is the one picturing a stretch of wall with German children on one side and Chinese and black children on the other working to tear down the wall one brick at a time. My dad’s hunger and my overwhelming desire to drink any form of liquid (preferably water but at this point I wasn’t getting too picky). Based on a recommendation from my guidebook we traversed the city with plans on eating at this authentic restaurant. The metro we took just so happened to be packed with people heading for a carnival not with Ferris wheels and cotton candy but beer, beer, international food, and some more beer. This metro train was packed sardine-style. So with no air conditioning and visions of large glasses of water while laying down in a cold bath dancing in my head, the journey tested my every resolve. I was sooooo thirsty! The only entertainment was a group of Germans jiving to some heavy bass music that came from their stereo system which sat in a baby stroller. Finally we saw the restaurant in sight down the street but unfortunately the menu was too limited for our tastes. Since I was ready to pass out from exhaustion and my dad could no longer feel his legs, we turned into a Turkish restaurant. Before ordering I headed for the corner store to get water; I killed a 1.5 liter bottle water in roughly 40 minutes (after that I felt I had discovered the fountain of youth). Although not the German meal we had envisioned going in, it left my belly quite happy. Before heading to the hostel I wanted to see a monument dedicated to all the books burned by the nazis, which did not fit into their code. The monument was not much of a monument but rather a lighted underground library that had white empty book shelves commemorating that day to make sure others do not forget their past. After a day like that I wanted to just get a shower and sleep but how could I when I can meet other people from around the world. So I got myself a Berliner beer and sat around talking to some guys from Florida as well as a herd of Dutch youth traveling as part of university organized Amazing Race. These Dutch travelers hitchhiked from Amsterdam to Berlin literally getting rides from total strangers; I was shocked and a little jealous at the same time. My dad and I have the potential to form a good team with him translating some German and me being the master of the map. For being someone that sucks at navigating a city by car I know how to work a map; my dad is practically a little puppy dog following me around while I navigate Berlin as if I’m a local. Sometimes I have to yell “macht schnell” or make fast to get him moving. As I said, we could be a good duo unless we kill each other before the trip is over haha.
Day 12: The Wurst Day of My Trip