Originally posted January 4, 2010
Hallo! Guten Tag!
I had a moment to spare, so I figured I’d keep on top of things and post a quick update.
Sarah and I made it to the airport without any problems on Thursday night. We decided to go through security early which turned out to be a good plan because it took a long time. They were very thorough and were a little suspicious that I had traveled to Jordan and Egypt but I told them it was just for vacation and we got through just fine. We had some time to spare before going to our gate so we had a late dinner and talked. While talking, Sarah looked at my watch and said woah, it’s 12:08! And I said okay, cool, we have about 30 minutes before we need to go to the gate. No, she said, it’s the New Year! We laughed and wished each other a new year, but it was pretty uneventful over all. Once on the plane, I conked out and slept for the entire flight.
I woke up and looked out my window and there it was: snow! I put on an extra sweater for insulation and off we went. We napped for a little while in the airport, as it was still quite early, before heading over to my friend’s friends’ house. It was relatively easy to find and soon we were defrosting and thawing out our toes. That night we went to the Reichstag, or Parliament, and stood in line to see the view from the top. It was quite chilly, but it was beautiful and yes, I took lots of pictures. We wandered around Brandenburg Gate and enjoyed some hot chocolate before turning in for the night. We got pretty good at using the subway and how to read the house numbers (they sometimes start at 1 on one side and 50 on the other side of the street, go down and then go back up).
Friday we woke up later than we’d expected and missed the free tour, so we instead met up with a friend here. We walked around a bunch, chatting and eating Chinese food as we felt like it, and she showed us some cute shops. We drank tea to warm up and parted ways for dinner. We cooked some pasta for our lovely host and later went off to salsa! I asked around and looked up some salsa spots here, and the one I chose turned out to be a great one! I was a bit hesitant at first as I didn’t know anyone and some people were pretty good (oh and I don’t speak German…), but eventually I was asked to dance and kept on dancing! That’s one of the things I love about dancing, you don’t need to know any language to dance, you just need to know when someone is asking and how to show them you accept. All in all, it cemented the fact that I love dancing and I’m going to try and dance in every city I go to.
Saturday we woke up early enough for the free tour. It was really a great tour, by Sandeman’s New Berlin; they do tours in many major European cities and they are actually free. You are encouraged to tip your guide, but only as much as you want. My guide was from Liverpool, which already gave him at least a 1 euro tip. He told us about the history of Berlin, took us to a lot of interesting places and was really a great guide. The tour ended up being almost 4 hours, and definitely worth the time! That night, we went to this strange little pub. My mom’s friend told me about it and it was quite a silly experience. It was basically themed around toilets, coffins and other very strange things. It was cozy and they played some fun music, stuff I haven’t heard in years.
Today I woke up late again (it’s tough to wake up when the room is so dark and the bed is so comfy and warm!) and went exploring. I didn’t feel like buying a bus pass, so I walked to where I wanted to go. I got a little lost, but found myself again and made it to the East Side Gallery. It was really cool; both great graffiti and very cold out! I took many pictures not only of the walls, but also of the graffiti that I saw along the way, there is so much! Apparently (as I learned yesterday on the tour), it was legal up until last year to graffiti walls and such, and still it’s not really a big deal. I walked around Alexanderplatz a bit, enjoying the sights and sounds but by then I was quite chilly and headed home.
Tomorrow we’re off to Munich, and while I really enjoyed Berlin, I think I’m ready for a new city. There’re lots of new things to do, and now that I know a little German (or at least can recognize it), I think it’ll be a little easier to settle in.
I’ll be in touch when I can, and so far everything is going very well!