Vorglühen und Gesichtwurst

Trip Start Dec 17, 2010
Trip End Apr 26, 2011

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Flag of Germany  , Berlin,
Saturday, April 16, 2011

15 April 2011
We got to Berlin this afternoon.  The first striking thing was how modern it is.  Most modern city I've been to since my layover in Dallas probably.  Also struck by how difficult German is.  I can't figure it out at all and almost nothing is translated to English.  This will definitely be the most difficult city language-wise.

My friend, Andi, picked us up from the airport and showed us around a little bit.  Then we all went out for lunch.  I had a salad.  I think it's the first time I've had vegetables in almost 2 weeks.  Whoops.  After lunch we came to the hostel.

The hostel is so nice.  It's called a hotel actually, and I would definitely categorize it as such except that it only costs 12 euros per night and we have a stranger sleeping in our room. It also has a killer location for all of the sights and Andi pointed out to us the nightlife areas that aren't too far.  

We took a long nap and then decided to go out.  Walking to the bars, we realized that we should probably eat something first, so we stopped at a sausage stand and had some currywurst.  Currywurst will definitely become a daily habit (or more).  The hostel has a nice kitchen, but we can afford to eat out here.  After dinner we had some beers and then took a cab back to the hostel. 

Another striking thing about Berlin is that I feel normal sized again.  Mediterranean people make me feel like a giant.  I think I might be German.  People here don't automatically start speaking English to me.  They think I'm German too.      

16 April 2011
Today we took a day trip to Potsdam which is where the German Kaisers lived.  My faith in German timeliness was challenged because the train we were supposed to get on never even showed up and we ended up on the wrong train and lost in the middle of nowhere.  We figured out our way back, but we almost got in trouble for not having the right ticket.  Luckily, we met some nice German girls who spoke English and explained to the ticket agent what had happened and took us where we needed to go.  Potsdam was awesome.  And the weather was so great.  Unfortunately I forgot my camera today so I didn't get any pictures of the awesome palaces and gardens.  

When we first got to Potsdam we were starving, so we stopped at a little festival (Wasserfest) and went to a tapas bar.  I like how the Germans do Spanish food.  Everything was delicious.  

Afterwards, we walked to the palaces and around the park.  There were tons of people riding bikes and jogging.  Also lots of families out together. I totally love this place.  Fortunately, most of the things that I love here were the ones that reminded me of Boulder, so I think Colorado will always be home.

New stranger in our room.  A German boy.  He seems to really dislike Americans.  One of the first things that people all over Europe have asked is whether I feel unsafe because everybody in the US has guns.  I try not to get into it.  I just mention that it's not actually true that you can buy guns like candy and that no, I've never really felt unsafe for it.
Went out again tonight for currywurst and drinks.  At the bar, we sat at a table and the waiter came over and asked if we spoke German.  I feel bad because there would be total uproar in the US if it became common practice in restaurants to ask people if they speak English.  Every time I have to tell somebody that I don't speak German, I feel so guilty.  Spanish was more practical though.  German will be next.  I promise.

17 April 2011
We cooked lunch today.  My favorite culinary masterpiece of Ramen, eggs, broccoli, and sausage.  Then we took the walking tour.

We've had pretty good success with taking the tours in Spanish, so we decided to do that here too.  It was rough.  I realized that I don't know anything at all about German history, so it was really hard to understand what was going on.  Also, the tour guide was from Barcelona and spoke really fast.  We saw some great stuff though.  Brandenburg gate, Berlin wall, Checkpoint Charlie, St. Hedwig's Cathedral, Humboldt University, the former site of the bunker where Hitler committed suicide, and a bunch of other stuff.  The tour took over four hours and then we had a long walk back to the hostel.  

Currywurst and another bar.  This is the first city where we've really experienced the nightlife.  It's something else.  I guess the city is known for it's grungy side.  The former mayor described Berlin as "poor but sexy."  It's not scary or anything.  I actually feel really safe.  We were warned about one park that we should avoid, but that's all the way across town.  

18 April 2011
Today was our souvenir shopping day.  We found a fabric store and a place for Felicia to buy a potholder.  Then we got kebap for lunch.  I think that my stomach has shrunk during this trip because I used to be able to put a full kebap away with no trouble and today I couldn't finish even though I was starving when I started.  

We met up with Andi and went to a mall and then got some coffee.  The weather is still great, so we sat outside drinking coffee for an hour or so.  I think I've mentioned before that it's remarkable how long restaurants here allow you to stick around even if you just order one drink.  You have to ask for the bill, they don't just bring it to you as a hint that it's time to move on.  Once it started to get cold we walked home.  Tonight was cake night, so we got wine from the grocery store and chocolate cake and cheesecake from McDonald's.  It's sad, but that was probably the best cake so far, besides the red velvet in Rome.  

 After that, we met up with Andi again and he showed us some nightclubs.  We got in for free because we said the password which he said translated to "face sausage."  The music was crazy.  It would be typical American club music for a while and then a German song and then a middle school flashback.  It was lots of fun though.  We haven't gone dancing since we left Alicante.  When we left the club, they were making people wait in a long line at the door even though the club was only half full by Spanish standards.  They really follow the rules here.  That's part of the reason I feel like I fit in so well.

We left the clubs late, after most of the public transportation had shut down, so we had to chase a tram down and then we still had a long walk after it let us off.  Getting up early tomorrow to pack and head to another city.  Our last.     

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Maria on

I googled what currywurst was - sounds good, except that I don't like hot stuff, or curry at all. But, I am a suckler for sausages.

The thing about them asking about feeling unsafe is funny. I mean, their reasoning I find interesting. I love stereotypes.

And I believe you're only saying "German is next, I promise" because you're in Germany. Other than that though, seriously, what's the point? It's not practical and sounds ugly. There! I said it! sue me.

The letting you sit at a restaurant as long as you want thing - that is SO true in Latin America too. It's because it's impolite to rush someone at a meal. I don't know if that's the same reasoning there, but still. I like it.

On to your last city? Sheesh! I can't believe it!!! Have super fun times :)

Grandpa on

Giant Elaine, you are German, partly at least. My mother was a Wampler and her Mother a Schmid. Some day, I'll tell you stories about Grossemama, who I never knew, and her husband Grossepapa when they came over from Switzerland locating first in Knoxville and then Dayton.

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