About Me

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I'm a 30 something who loves to travel.  I have a full time job and enjoy writing (or blogging) about my travels.  I've traveled through several countries in Europe as well as Russia and Egypt.  I also enjoy domestic travel in the United States, including Disney.  My long term travel goal is to do a round the world trip.  

Friday, June 25, 2010

Berlin

Day 31: Berlin Sightseeing: Time to explore this lively city where East and West once met. A "must see" is "Checkpoint Charlie" and other famous sites. Also a chance to enjoy the
exciting nightlife. (Breakfast included)

Hotel: The GeneratorBreakfast: open Meet for tram: 8:45

At 8:45 we met in the lobby and took the Tram to Alexanderplatz where we met our tour guide, Torbin, for our optional historical tour of Berlin. On the way over, on the tram, Maggy told us
that she had run into some English soccer fans on the tram, they were cheering, "2 World Wars, 1 World Cup," an obvious reference to the fact that the English
have won 2 World Wars and the German's have only won 1 World Cup, classy! Torbin is our guide for the optional, he is a German who was raised on Long Island (YEA!), but was getting his degree in history in Berlin, I must say he really knew his stuff. Or at least he bluffed well. He walked us down Unter Den Linden showing us some of the museums, churches and other stuff: Humboldt University, Bebelplatz, Pariser Platz, Berliner Dom, Neue Wache, Zeughaus and the Altes Museum. He also explained to us about the Ampelmännchen (the walk/don't walk sign.) It's traditional to Eastern Berlin and after the unification when the signs would break they would put up new boring ones. Well the Berliners were not having that! There was a movement to keep Ampelmännchen around, and now they are always replaced with the Ampelmännchen.

At Bebelplatz we made a stop, not to take pictures with the UN Buddy Bears, but to see the memorial to the 21,000 books burned by the Nazi's. It's not the stack of books also in Bebelplatz, rather an underground room with empty book shelves that could hold the 21,000 books that were burned.

Eventually we made it down to Pariser Platz where the Brandenburg Gate is, this is also home to the Adlon Hotel (where Michael Jackson dangled his baby off the balcony.) From there we went to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. I must say I was unimpressed with this memorial. It was
designed to make you feel oppressed, and while it wasn't an enjoyable place to walk through, I wasn't feeling oppressed. Combine that with the fact that if I wasn't told what it was, I wouldn't have had a clue, which explains why they sometimes find kids playing hide and seek or jumping from block to block.

Then we went to Hitler's bunker, which until recently was unmarked. They recently put up a sign marking the location and giving some info about the Bunker. We then saw another section of the Berlin Wall and the Topography of Terror (but did not tour it) and finished at Checkpoint Charlie around 1:00. At the end of this tour we said our first goodbye, Cathy was leaving from Berlin this aftern
oon to start her new life in Amsterdam, Good Luck!

For those who wanted to see the Checkpoint Charlie Museum Maggy collected 5.50 euro each and got us all tickets at the group rate. I liked the museum; however, as I heard previously, it's
not well laid out, but it still has some very interesting stuff. After that Leah and I made a quick stop across the street at Subway for lunch and then proceeded to do some shopping. I was looking for some more souvenirs, as was Leah. We probably went into 50 shops, but I got some World Cup stuff for my sister and her family (soccer and Germany fans) and a couple things for myself. If we had had time we would have gone to the top of the TV tower, but alas, we ran out. We had to get back to the hostel to get ready for this evenings optional dinner and nightlife tour. But I did have time for some really yummy Australian Ice Cream from a shop on Unter den Linden. We got back to the hostel at 5:30 and had till 7:00 to get ready.
At 7:00 we all met and took the metro to our restaurant. The dinner was ok, but the restaurant was in a half basement, meanwhile it was a beautiful night and all the restaurants in the area had sidewalk seating. The dinner experience the night before was much better. After dinner we went on our pub crawl.
For this part of the optional we had a tour guide, she was very nice and gave us a free shot (probably included in the price) before our first bar. At the first bar we were pretty much the only people in the bar and the bar was REALLY HOT, it was a relief when I went with Renae to the ATM for money. After that we hit another bar, this one was a little better, there were other people there and I
think we got a free drink here. After another 45 minutes or so we went to a third bar, again it was pretty much only us and we got another free shot. I had an interesting conversation with Clinton, I tried to arrest him for tacky underwear, which didn't work out so well for me, but we did review some martial arts moves in the bar. After that bar we went to a club. I wasn't impressed, it was really more like a bar with a dance floor, and well I'm not much of a dancer anyway. I've heard great things about Berlin nightlife, but I was not impressed with what I had seen on this pub crawl. Finally at 1am I left with Kate, Lis and Jilly and took a Taxi back to the hostel. Again I had trouble with my Ipod and didn't get to bed till after 2am.