So I didn’t blog yesterday because I didn’t do much. I slept in, went to Cologne, toured the Dom (Cathedral), checked out the train station, and read in my room. The Cathedral was awesome. It is the oldest, or is largest (or both?), church in Germany. Construction started in the mid-13th century, though it didn’t finish until the 19th century. It is very spectacular, but I now expect myself to think that, as it is Gothic architecture. I’ve decided that I really love Gothic architecture! I couldn’t find the steps to go up to the top, though, which was a bummer. (And once I found them later, it was closed. I thought it was open later, but that was September’s schedule and I forgot it was October!)
I got out of Cologne on an early train to Berlin today…4 1/2 hour trip. Again, I love first class. I found two open seats… one for me, one for my bag! I slept, read, and edited photos. I was so excited to get to Berlin. I have really been looking forward to this city. So much history. Both WW2 and Cold War. I checked into my hostel and met one of my roommates… an Aussie! How did I guess?!?! But she told me that we had two Canadian nurses as our other two roommates. I got settled a bit and headed out.
I am staying in what was formerly East Berlin, so that’s kind of cool. The East Side Gallery is very close to the hostel, so that’s what I went to first. The East Side Gallery is the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall. It is pretty cool because once the Wall came down, artists came in and painted on the East side. This was monumental because the West’s side had paint and graffiti on it, but it was strictly forbidden on the East side. So the act of painting this portion of the Wall was symbolic of their newfound freedom.
There are many very cool murals/pictures. Some are just artistic. And some are super weird. People have also taken to signing their names or writing messages on it. If I had a better pen/marker, I would’ve done that and I still might. I like the idea of having signed the wall in Belfast and Berlin. There were definitely some very touching tributes. And then there were all of the “Free Palestine” comments people wrote. Which, spare me.
I walked the length of the Wall (1.3 km) and just looked at the art and took pictures. On my way back, I walked close to the Wall (it was quite high) and tried to imagine what it was like to have lived behind it. It was oppressive just to walk that closely to it. But to imagine that the people walking where I was were so cut off from the world so as not to know what was happening, even just on the other side, was so sad. I think it hit me because this was something that occurred in my lifetime. I remember the Wall coming down (and all other overthrows of Communism, obviously). My grandparents lived in Stuttgart at the time and they actually have piece of it. So it felt a little more personal.
After that I was starving, but couldn’t find anything that sounded good. So I made my way to Hackescher Markt. There were a lot of high-end shops in this area, but also more of a farmer’s market (or what I have found in other town squares). I was able to find a stand that served bratwurst in a bun (v hard to find, I’ve learned). But then I had to follow it up with some Haagen Daze…a caramel banana crepe? Don’t mind if I do! (it came with a scoop of caramel praline ice cream and a scoop of dulce de leche ice cream….I wasn’t a huge fan of the latter.)
I then came back to my room for an exciting night of….laundry! I had to get some things washed and got to learn how to operate German washers and dryers! Not gonna lie, I had to come back to my room to google translate what the settings on the dryer were (there was a cheat sheet for the washer, but not for the dryer). While my clothes were drying I was able to Skype with the BF (even though it kept disconnecting), so we could trash talk the Vikings/Packers game!! Then I chatted with the Canadian roommates… they’re super cool and it’s been a fun evening! Looking forward to a very busy day tomorrow… and it’s a national holiday. The anniversary of the reunification. FUN!