Saturday, August 2, 2014

Hitting The Wall

So, we're back on vacation!

For the blog, that is!

Remember we took the ICE train to Berlin and that's where I left ya hangin'.

I think I have been putting off writing about Berlin because it is such an eclectic, history filled, eccentric, bustling, insomnia tic city! Where do I begin!

Now, the only time I have been to big cities, I have been driving through, staying in a hotel the whole time, or just stopping for a quick tourist spot fun.

I have never, ever been in a city like Berlin.


Now I know why our friends, Thomas and Achim, think Salt Lake City is such a quaint village (inside joke).

When we arrived in Berlin I was astounded at just the train station alone. I've never seen a train station quite like it. It was grand and modern and spacious and ... wow... it was just really cool!

Then we met up with our friend, Yalda! Yay! We met her last year in San Diego and we were so excited to see her again! We exchanged excited hugs and she even had a sweet little souvenir travel guide she had created just of us! I loved it! We kept it with our souvenirs in my journal so I could take a picture of it for you to see too.

I mean, seriously, so sweet!

Then we all hopped into her cute, little car and we were on the streets of Berlin to get to our awesomely hipster hotel, the Michelb├╝rger.

That place was hip to the max dude! I had to start taking pictures right away! It was so swank! They gave us coconut water when we checked in and that was a fun little treat.

Marc got a pic of me taking shots.

After getting settled and checked in we were off walking through the city to get some lunch/dinner at a restaurant that served some of the biggest burgers I've ever seen outside of the U.S! Ha! No, but, really they were big!

 This is just one of those pictures I wanted to take because... I just liked it (smile).

We walked through a ways from the burger place to get some great cupcakes through a scary part of town, at least I thought it was, because of all the graffiti... Naivety I guess... I was amazed at all the graffiti on all the buildings of homes, apartments and businesses. It's everywhere.

I was camera happy in Berlin with all the architecture art and crazy artsy stuff that seemed to flood the streets.

Then it was time to hit the wall... no, not stop, we were on our way to see the famous Berlin Wall!

But, first, let me pause to show you a flyer that made me giggle a little bit...

I totally should have done that! You know, it was interesting, how the put up posters there in Berlin.

They don't ever really take them down. They just keep putting them up on top of each other until the posts they put them on look like they are 5 feet in diameter instead of 2 feet! It's pretty crazy! For the longest time I just thought that they had huge cement bases to all their light posts and then we walked by some one who had been sawing away at all the poster to remove a few hundred layers. I don't even think I got a picture of that. Let me look...

Dang! No postured posts... but, I found a pic of me with the Berlin Bear.

Anyway! Let me get back to hitting the wall!

It was amazing, humbling, saddening, disturbing, and inspiring all at the same time.

How can that be?

I don't really know.

I guess when you leave a part something standing that once stood for separation, cruelty, sadness, control, and stupidity then it brings about a quiet reverence to what the people and families went through on the other side of the wall and makes you so grateful for the freedoms we take for granted each day. The Berlin Wall is a reminder of barbaric ways that were taking place in, the not so long ago, past and the freedoms that have now been reinstated into peoples lives, families and ancestry. I really don't know how to explain the chaotic reverence there as we walked along the wall that has been painted by so many with messages of hope, love, peace, acceptance, art, leadership and history.

You know, when I first saw a painting on the Berlin Wall of two men kissing, I have to admit, I didn't know my history and just assumed it was another gay rights thing...

When Thomas told me about the history of the Brotherhood Kiss and the meaning it has to the taking down of the Berlin Wall. It's actually a beautiful story and one of peace and brotherly kindness and love, so I just wanted to clarify the significance of this painting that was painted on the wall in 1990.

It was interesting, too, to hear Marc talk about the last time he was here in Berlin and saw the wall when it was still a separator of a country and how scary it was for him to see men in towers with guns ready to shoot any one who tried to cross the wall. It was awesome to watch his face as he was able to see what it was like now that it was all one country and not separated in East and West. I had to get a picture of him at the open side of the wall. I wish I could truly describe in words how amazing it is to be around something as historically intriguing as the Berlin Wall.

There were many beautiful paintings on the wall. Again, some of them had been graffitied but you could still see the original artwork underneath. It really made me wish I had some chalk with me so I could as something to the side walk.

So, speaking of the sidewalk. I can't believe how many times Marc and Thomas had to yell my name to get off the bikers lane of the sidewalk. I just am not used to so many people on bikes... everywhere... they are everywhere. There are so many bikers in Berlin that if a pedestrian is in their lane of the sidewalk they'll run you right over. Trust me. I witnessed an Asian woman next to me who didn't have some one to warn her like I did. Yowch!

That's one thing that I see a lot different than where I am from in the Western United States. There were bikers and pedestrians EVERYWHERE!

This image is a characterization of a photo that was taken of a soldier who found out the wall was going up and literally just made it out in time. You can see the original image in the wall of postcards below.

We toured some monuments that were sacred places dedicated to the Jews who were lost in the WWII and then on to Checkpoint Charlie, the area where designated for entry for the dignitaries and other people coming in and out of East and West Germany. We also walked around the memorial that was there telling of those who were killed or captured trying to cross the wall.

We saw the Alexander Platz from a distance and got up close and personal to the Brandenburger Tor which was really cool for Marc to be able to see too. I think this one was one of the places he was only able to see from the other side of the wall. Again, it was neat to see his reaction to being able to view all the places he didn't when he had been there in the 80's.

A map showing East and West Berlin

Yalda did a great job taking this memorable picture for us.

This was the ONLY type of car that one could drive in West Berlin.
They have a bunch of them around for tourists to ride around in for the nostalgia of it.

We walked through one of the main parks in Berlin and boy was it trippy. I really wish we would have gotten a picture of the crazy roller man who almost bowled us over in his roller-skates and his white wispy hair flying in our faces. It was really funny too, because that is when we taught Thomas the term "Space Cadet." That's the best way we could explain what he was.

I'm sure there were other space cadets at the park as I don't think people were only high on life... know what I mean?


That's another thing. I've never been offered drugs by anyone.


Especially by 10 people in a row.

All speaking German.

Thomas had to translate for me.

I just thought they were creepy guys.

Turns out they were creepy guys who sold drugs.


That was the only damper to my trip.

(Yes, I am a sheltered country bumpkin... thank goodness.)

After walking around Berlin most of the day we were ready for some night time snacks and a soccer game back at mine and Marc's room! The four of us had a great time cheering on Germany playing Madrid with Madrid winning that one 4-0, That game started something for me. The World Cup was a whole new world to me over the last months! Love it!

It was a great ending to a great day in Berlin.

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