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!