With a school sponsored day trip to Oxford on Saturday, I figured it would be a fun idea to squeeze in a Wednesday through Friday trip to Berlin. Germany has an incredible amount of history that is difficult to take in a short two and a half days. As soon as we arrived, we wanted to embrace their culture with a traditional German dinner. We went to a small pub that served hearty dishes and good beer. My expectations were fulfilled as I got pork tenderloin with potatoes and sauerkraut. We spent the rest of the night exploring the city. Our wandering brought us to a small lounge bar where we enjoyed another beer and dessert.
Ironically, the next day began with a trip to a massive memorial for the Soviets on the east-side of Berlin. Within Treptower Park, the Soviet Union created a stunning display of statues commemorating the lost soldiers in World War II. There are stone squares carving out images showing the progression of their struggle with the Germans. It culminates with a towering statue up on a hill of a Soviet soldier stepping on a swastika.
After that, we made our way over to a street market amongst neighborhoods to get a quick lunch. We spent the afternoon on a free guided tour throughout the city. The tour started on the steps of, what they refer to as, the Old Museum. It was a common spot for Hitler to address thousands during many different speeches. Making our way through the city gave us a good sense of Hitler’s influence, as well as the impact of the wall in shaping Berlin to this day. Different points during the tour included Checkpoint Charlie and the Memorial for the lost Jews. It was powerful to see the sign still standing indicating whether you were entering the free world or entering Communist control. I found it humorously fitting that a McDonald’s was one of the first things on the side of the free world.
The Memorial for the lost Jews was over 2,000 concrete statues of varying heights that you could walk through and reflect on. It was a powerful reminder of all of the pain that those people endured.
During the tour we also made a friend from Venezuela who spent the rest of the night and next day with us. For dinner we ate at a cozy Mexican restaurant. It was really funny to see a menu that was a mix of Spanish and German. We finished the night off with delicious gelato prepared in the shape of a flower.
Friday began with a trip to a popular museum called the Topography of Terror. The museum offered a detailed history of the rise of the Third Reich. It was chilling to see the progression of the Nazis take control of almost every aspect of life in Germany. My brain was fried after a couple of hours, and I needed food. Although it seemed lame at first, eating at the Mall of Berlin turned out to be a great decision. The mall had the biggest and most diverse food choices I’ve ever seen. Splitting lunch with someone else, I was able to enjoy good Chinese food and a big American burger. To top it off, we made our way to a gigantic chocolate store. I think this is the longest I’ve ever spent in a sweets store, and rightfully so. The store was filled with large scale models of different buildings in Germany made out of chocolate. It was fascinating to see, and even more delicious to eat, some of their chocolate.
Our last stop of the trip was to watch the sunset on top of the Cathedral Dome in Berlin. We made our way up over 250 windy steps to the top of the church. Thankfully a sunny day made for a beautiful sunset shining across the city. Berlin turned out to be a great city for both learning and adventure.