Europe Week Seven: Berlin

Allo,

Germans are beautiful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more attractive race. I spent the past two weekends in the country neighboring to my left. Last weekend (10/15-17) was in Berlin with my program and this weekend (10/23-25) in Munich. Each city has its own vibe and feel as expected. I’ll begin with Berlin and follow up with Munich and some other stuff in a couple days.

The Berlin Holocaust Memorial
The Berlin Holocaust Memorial

I went to Berlin with ISA and all 50 people in my group for another whirlwind weekend in a city. We started in Berlin was with the Holocaust Memorial. Now, let me explain this because it was not what I was expecting at all. It is 4.7 acres covered with 2,711 concrete slabs arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping inward field. (I’m unsure about the significance of the numbers.) The beams range in height from about a foot to almost 16 ft tall. They’re organized in rows 54 one way and 87 the other. The concrete slabs are designed to create an uneasy and confusing atmosphere that aims to represent an ordered system that has lost touch with human reason, which is exactly how I felt when I was there. Underground is a “place of information” filled with the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims, it’s impossible to comprehend the mass destruction that happened 60+ years ago. Never forget. Never again. We then walked by the bunker where Hitler committed suicide, which, appropriately enough, is now a gravel parking lot.

Outside the German Parliament
Outside the German Parliament

Next we visited the Berlin Wall and a museum about it—a stark reminder how this city is still recovering from WWII and the communist era. It was a nice refresher of Cold War history from high school. Basically, communism sucked. I don’t think in high school I could fully comprehend how a government could oppress their citizens so severely…no wonder alcohol is still so abundant here. The Germans are not proud of their history and ashamed of what they did. It is not something they like talking about, at all. It’s also worth reminding you the city has only been unified for about 25 years since WWII. Germany is 600 years older than the US, yet feels more modern than any US city I’ve visited. Nothing a like a few bombs to make a city rebuild from the ground up.

Upon recommendation from the NY Times (my go to travel agent), I discovered two off the grid places. The first was a mall called “Bikini Berlin” full of local pop up shops, farm to table restaurants and a koala exhibit. Random, I know.This was probably the best shopping I’ve seen in Europe, but only minimal damage was done, I promise. That night I went with a couple friends to a brewhouse called Eschenbrau that featured three permanent beers, made in house, and 18 others that rotate every three weeks. They were probably the best beers I’ve had in Europe thus far-they didn’t even taste like beer. This was a place only locals or avid readers would know about. It was in a park, underground, a 25 minute bus ride from our hotel. I’ll let you guess how long it actually took us to find the place. At least it was worth it (I have a beer stein to prove it).

The East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery

Now as a non-sequedor…remember when you were all wondering why I went to Hawaii with my internship? I have the answers: Flight Review: Hawaiian A330-200 in Economy — LAX to Maui and Flight Review: Alaska 737 in First Class — Maui to San Jose and Zip-lining Down Haleakala on Maui also, in case you missed my first one: Flight Review JetBlue A321 in Even More Space — JFK-LAX.

Finally, follow this link to see all of my pictures thus far, including Munich: Mark in Europe

So there is a brief update that I never sent out from last week. I hope that everyone is doing swell and I miss you all.

Much love from somewhere along the Czech-German border

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