Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Eurpoean Adventure - Part I: Berlin

When I was a little girl, I used to dream of seeing the world. I would sit on the floor of my room paging through a world atlas, looking at all the countries I wanted to visit. I spent hours reading about the history and different cultures. I made lists. Lists upon lists upon lists of cities and sights. Of foods that I would try. Of souvenirs I would buy. I could hardly stand it.
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My great aunt Rosie was a fortune teller. She used to read our palms when we were little. We would sit around her feet, my cousins and I, and hold our palms out to her and beg her to tell us about our futures. I'll never forget her holding my hand in her hers, tracing a line in my palm with her long red fingernail. She would look at me and smile as she squeezed my hand in hers.
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"You are going to travel the world, my girl," she said. "You are going to have many adventures. And you will marry a man who loves you with his whole heart."
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Now that I am a grown up, I am not sure if she was just telling me what she thought I needed to hear, or what she really believed to be true. But her words have stayed with me for my entire life. And I think about her every time I am standing in front of one of the many sights I couldn't wait to see.
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A few weeks ago, the man who loves me with his whole heart took me on an exciting adventure to Berlin, Amsterdam and Brussels.
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The funny thing is, never in a million years did I ever want to go to Berlin. I thought it was like the Detroit of Europe. And I mean no offense to anyone from the greater Detroit area. I just mean that I always envisioned it to be depressing. Growing up during the time when communism was the overwhelming threat of the world, the images we saw of Berlin were the wall, armed soldiers and sad people. It just looked so grey and industrial.
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Needless to say, Berlin surprised me. In the absolute best of ways.
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Does this look depressing, grey and industrial? No. I think not.
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We arrived on a Friday morning and stayed until Monday. We spent three nights at Pension Peters. The hotel was amazing. It was more like a bed and breakfast. Each room was "pristine clean" as Kenny says, and the whole place had a comfortable, homey feel. Breakfast came with price of the room, and it was always delicious. The location could not have been more perfect. We were within walking distance of the main shopping street, Kuhrf├╝rstendam, or KuDam as the locals call it.
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This street was full of fabulous shops and cafes, and of course chic, beautiful people. Europe is supposedly experiencing many of the same economic troubles we are here in America. We saw no evidence of this on the KuDam. It was a whole bunch of ooh la la's.
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On Saturday we took a walking tour of the major historical sites of the city. We saw the Berliner Dom . . .
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the Reichstag (German Parliament)(and FYI, the dome is clear at the top to give you not only a beautiful view of the city, but also a view into the main hall of parliament. It is a reminder to the people of Germany to keep an eye on their government leaders) . . .
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Humboldt University (Albert Einstein taught here, and also the site where the Nazis burned more than 20,000 books in 1933. Now there is a used book sale every weekend across the street at one of the other university buildings) . . .
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Checkpoint Charlie (I was so disappointed in this. I thought it was real, but it's not. It's all for show and all touristy. They should just take it down instead of leaving it as such a joke). . .
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the Wall . . .
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the site of Hitler's bunker (I can understand why they didn't keep the bunker, but build apartments and a parking lot on top of it?). . .
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the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (the bottom picture is my favorite. I loved how peaceful it was inside the memorial and how every block was a different size and none of them were perfect. Deep inside the memorial you felt very alone, but you could always see there was a way out. I'm not one of those people who appreciates modern art, but the meaning behind this memorial was so moving. . .)
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and the Brandenburg Gate.
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Sunday we took off on our own and explored Potsdamer Platz, the Pergamon Museum and the German Historical Museum. I think this was my favorite day. We just kind of walked around on our own time schedule and took in everything there was to see...
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Coming from a city with no change of seasons, this was breathtaking. I loved the smell of the leaves and the way they crunched under my feet. If this is what fall looks like to you, you are so lucky.
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.This is me (on the right) and Dee (on the left) walking along the river Spree to Museum Island. It was cold but we were so happy to see the beautiful fall colors.

Berlin was amazing and my most favorite city of the three we visited. Walking back to the hotel Sunday night, I felt sad that we were leaving so soon. I absolutely can't wait to go back.

I left a little piece of my heart Unter Den Linden.

5 comments:

gotham Girl said...

Outstanding post!

chandy said...

What a great trip! How was the food? You didn't eat head cheese, did you?

DutchMac said...

I'm with you on this one. We went to Berlin for an anniversary trip one year because I found a really cheap all-inclusive deal and figured WTH. I was expecting grey and industrial and also fell in love with the place.

I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time!

Jessie said...

Wow. Berlin has always fascinated me, but mostly because I'm a history nerd. This is so cool! I would love to go!

And your pictures rock.

Anonymous said...

Love your pictures and the blog. Very cool. I'm going to have to post this Anonynmous because I can't remember my Google login! Karen