Sunday, April 27, 2014

Day 3: April 23rd, 2014

Today I woke up early and tried to be productive. I went down and used the hotel computers to check emails and do my first blog post. We only have 30 minutes of free wifi at the hotel, so it will be hard to post a blog about every day. We had breakfast at the hotel. It is free to everyone staying at the hotel. It is similar to an English breakfast. They have assorted meats, cheese, and bread, along with fruit, vegetables, and granola. The breakfast was good.

We left the hotel around 10am and walked to the train station. Dr. McGee gave us our train passes for the five days we will be in Berlin. To activate the pass we had to stick the card in a machine that stamped the date on the card. This let the people checking tickets know how long the pass is good for.

We took the S-bahn to Haubanholf station. It is one of the major train stations in Berlin. Today we were going to visit the Reichstag, which is Germany's main government building. It would be like the United States White House. There were other government buildings around the Reichstag. We had time before our tour of the building, so Dr. McGee and Heike took us around to the back side of the building and showed us where the wall used to stand. Then we talked about how Germany and Berlin were divided into East and West sections. We talked about the land between the wall and what the Soviets put up to keep the people from escaping over to the West. It was very hard, dangerous, and scary times for Germany. The wall went right through the river that is located right near the Reichstang and Haubanholf. To prevent people from swimming across they put barbed wire at the bottom of the river. The wall fell in 1898. Today, West Germany is still helping East Germany recover.

Once we were in the Reichstag building we went to the top where the dome is located. This is an amazing structure. I could see much of the city from the top. The dome was made out of class, had a spiral staircase going all the way up, and a metal sheild that swung around to block the sun depending on the time of day. There was a draining system to allow the water that came in from the top to drain without getting everything wet at the bottom of the dome. We were up there for about 30 minutes. Then we had to go back down and meet with two members of the government who worked for a parliament member. They talked to us about how Germany's parliament system worked and what a week in Berlin was like for the members of parliament.

After leaving the Reichstag we went to eat lunch in one of the other government buildings. It started to rain so we made it there just in time. The dining hall was empty because it was past lunch time, so we had the whole place to ourselves.

We left the area and went to the Sony center and a shopping mall before dinner. We stayed there for an hour and walked around. There was a big Sony store, a LEGO planet, and other stores. The design of the plaza was interesting and cool. For dinner we went to Haucher Markt. We ate a nice restaurant. The food was good, although I ordered a salad because we ate lunch late and I wasn't very hungry. After dinner, Heike and Dr. McGee spend some time walking around the different courtyards that were located in the area. Emily and I decided to go with them and explore the courtyards. They were very fascinating because it was hard to believe that behind the buildings existed open areas and pathways. Afterwards we went back to the hotel for the night. Another amazing day in Berlin complete! 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Day 2: April 22nd, 2014

We finally made it to Berlin at 8am! Going through the passport inspection was different from other countries I have been. the officer onlz looked at my passport, stamped it, and gave it back. No questions were asked. This was a good thing, I guess!

Heike meet us at the airport with vans to take us to the hotel. It was about a 25 minute drive from the airport to the hotel. When we arrived at the hotel, we were given our rooms. I will be rooming with Emily here in Berlin. We were given time to go up and freshen up.

For the first day, we spent the day getting acquainted with the city. This was to keep us from going to sleep. We walked to the train station where there was an ATM. We took the time to take out money. We walked around the train station to see the shops that were there and where we would need to go to take the S-Bahn and U-Bahn.

We grabbed a bite to eat at a small sandwhich shop in the train station. The sandwhich I got was reallz good! I learned to say "das bitte" or "that please" to pick the sandwhich that I wanted.

From the train station we walked around the area and learned how to read a map of Berlin. The most memorable was this building called Kaufhaus des Westens. It was a huge department store with 7 levels. We spent about 30 minutes there walking around the 6th level. On this floor were a variety of foods from meat, cheese, wines, chocolate, dessert, fruits, veggies. etc. There were some foods you would find in America,  such as "Poptarts". The choclate flavored poptarts were called "Chocotastic". I thought that was so funny!

We walked around the streets for a couple of hours. I observed many things that were different than America. There was a lot of construction going on. The signs to walk across the street were interesting. There is a little green man with a hat and one arm sticking out, the other is a little red man with both arms stretched out making a "T". They are called "Ampelmann". These figures have become an icon and there are stores that sell items with these figures on them. The Ampelmann started in East Germany, but now is scattered throughout Berlin.

There was a church close by to our hotel, which we walked by. Right now it is under construction. It was bombed during WWII. They want to preserve what is left in memory of the war. It once was a very big and beautiful church. To continue holding services there a modern church was built right beside it. The building does not look like a church, instead it is a tall buildings with small square stain glass windows all the way around. It is in the shape of an octagon.

We were given time to go back to the hotel to take a nap. We got back around 2:30 and I feel asleep instantly and didn't wake-up until 4pm. I thought it was the next day when I woke up. I was so confused!

At 4:30 we left for dinner. On the way to dinner we stopped and activated the go phones that Heike provided for us to use while in Germany. We can use theses to call other people in the group or make international calls. We ate at a place called Zillemarkt. It was a nice resturant. I ordered schitzel, this was a popular dish in German. It is meat in a thin paddy and fried. It was good.

After dinner, we walked around to some different stores. We stopped to talk and exchange phone numbers. Then we went back to the hotel. It was a good first day! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Day 1: April 21st, 2014


We left for Germany on Monday and spent all day traveling. I left Bowling Green for the Nashville airport at 5:15. Check in went smoothly and we left Nashville for Newark at 9am. We arrived in Newark at 12pm and had a 5 hour lay over. The group spent the time walking around the airport, eating lunch, and relaxing. Finally we took off at 5:45 for Germany. The 8 hour flight wasn't bad and went by a lot faster than I thought it would. I spent the time trying to sleep and watching movies. My legs started to cramp half way through, but I servived. We landed in Germany at 8am on April 22nd. It is hard to believe I am in Germany right now and I am just trying to take it all in. More will becoming about the first couple days in Berlin!