4 days, 3 nights and 2 fantastic cities in the country of Germany
10/12/2012 - 10/15/2012
We had a full weekend ahead of us. Originally we wanted to travel to Berlin on Friday and Saturday but plans were changed when we couldnt get reservations for the ICE trains. It changed for the better because I dont think the weekend would have ended the way it did otherwise.
I will start with Friday. Early morning rise and off to Stuttgart for their smaller version of Oktoberfest called Volkfest. It was a little rainy, so we took some of the city trains and were able to get into 2 different beer houses to enjoy ourselves. We also had enough time to visit the city square with shops and even the government building with a beautiful walking garden, statues and more. (Check out the pictures).
We made our way back to Ulm later that day so we could get up even earlier to make our way to Berlin the next day.
4 of us were lucky enough to grab a reservation for a compartment which made the 6.5 hour train ride that much easier. We could be loud, and enjoy ourselves with a door closed and climate control. I think Clint, Ethan, Brandon and I managed to play monopoly for 2 straight hours, the first game I have completely finished without getting pissed and wanting to throw the board out the window.
Once we got into Berlin, it was not too bad to find a hostel. 5 minutes away and 19 euro later we received a room for the first night. Being the explorers that we are, we decided to just walk around and see what kind of trouble we could get into. How about a RIOT! haha. More like a demonstration, but with about 300 police in full riot gear marching around some protesters preaching the freedom and ideas of accepted immigration. Good times on the first night. In the mist of over 1000 protesters we were able to see the Brandenburg Gate and the Victor Tower. It was the festival of lights in town, so both the gate and the tower were lit up like Christmas trees with lights all around. After walking what seemed to be 5 miles from the Gate to the Victory Tower, we trudged forward to the Postdam Platz for some food and more Festival Lights action. We sat down in an awesome outdoor restaurant with wicker benches with cushions to enjoy some dinner and coffee.
Next up was the Sony City center which joined the festivities with light features too. Not far was parts of the Berlin wall with some explanation boards which was nice to see on the first night. On our way back to the hostel we passed the memorial for all those who died in the Holocaust. It was numerous concrete blocks rising skyward in a grid like form. It is supposed to represent the confusion and hopelessness felt during the Holocaust and it did just that when walking near 20 foot blocks of concrete and you can only see more in every direction you look.
The next day was jammed packed with more interesting facets of Berlin. Two of our group members needed to be back in Ulm that night, so 6 of us decided to change our plans and stay another night in Berlin. Brandon, Clint, Ethan, Kevin and I decided to front the 12 euro to see the first concentration camp in Germany and was the head position for all other camps during the war. It was built in 1936 in the form of a triangle so that one mounted machine gun could control the whole camp in all directions. (I will explain more in the pictures). It was a fantastic tour. 6 hours of amazing. The tour guide was studying for a doctorate in history who spoke Spanish, Portuguese, German and English. No knowledge was left untouched throughout the whole tour.
After the tour, we decided to catch up with the 6 guy in our group staying another day. We made our way to one of the largest outdoor flea markets I have ever seen. It was closing at the time, but we walked around to see what we could find. I was able to buy a custom carved chess set stained and painted green. Its pretty legit and will look good with the 7 other sets I own.
After hitting the market, we were all starving so we caught a train back to the Postdam Platz at the Festival of Lights to enjoy another fantastic dinner at the same wicker chaired place we went the night before. I didnt get a dinner the night before, so I spoiled myself a bit this time to make sure I had at least one fantastic meal in the capital of Germany. Sausage Penne pasta with a spicy olive oil and a Berliner Pilsner. It was nothing short of amazing and totally worth it. We all sat around bs-ing the night away enjoying the lights on the trees that lined the road of restaurants. After the dinner, we continued to sit and dabble in some Cohiba Sigolo III cuban cigars. I like to think we looked like kings and I think we all felt that way too. We called it a night after a quick stop at the American bar on the way home to watch some of the American football game.
The next and final day of the trip we decided to take a self guided tour of Berlin and see as much as we could before we left. First stop was the Berlin Wall memorial next to a cemetery. (Pictures are in the album). Afterwards we decided that a walk around the East Side galleries would be a good idea. A mile of the wall, painted and tagged. One of the coolest pieces of art I have ever seen and of course a quarter the way down my camera dies. I still managed to get a few more pictures tho. Checkpoint charlie and a quick walk through the Topography of Terror was our last stop before our ride home. I wish I could have another weekend in Berlin to enjoy the Berlin Zoo and all the other sites we missed. If I have a free weekend, that city might be on the top of my list to visit again this term.
It was such a good trip. I wish I could have