Das Hammer

Trip Start Aug 09, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Germany  , Berlin,
Monday, January 9, 2012

In November the American University of Paris broke up the semesters vacations into two one week breaks separated by a five day scholastic buffer. Mentally, the hiatus disrupted the our learning flow, but it was a great oppurtunity to travel unflustered to multiple destinations nearby. Well using the first vacation to visit and stay with my friend Alessandro in Rome. For the second week I fell upon Berlin for many reasons. Three of my closest friends would be coming in to ether visit for the weekend or to participate in erasmus(An EU program that gives grants to young adults to spend up to a full year living in another country, studying a language, taking classes for your university, or living with a host family) 

Well, going was a no-brainer as from Paris to Berlin with Ryanair tickets were only 20 euro and Brendan Schultz one of guys doing an the Erasmus semester, offered me his couch to sleep on. I was quite excited to get to visit Schultz as it had been over a year since we hung out, I met him when I transferred senior year from a boarding school in Connecticut to my home state of Rhode Island. For some reason every time we've ever eaten at the sandwich chain, Panera's, sexagenarians come up and ask if we are brothers.

Classes ended Friday, and I was off to Berlin with a rocky start. A strike on the RER B train made every car chockablocked to the point where half of the people waiting couldn't get on. So delayed an hour already I ran out of the train station to the a corner on St-michel and grabbed the slowest taxi driver in Paris. He dropped me off in the seventh where I mistakenly thought I could grab a bus to the airport. WRONG. that would have been an easy correct to grab a tax and find another bus except at five in the morning in this side of Paris there are no taxis. I wasted another hour trying to find one and ended up having to take a fifty euro cab ride as I missed my opportunity to take a bus. 

Didn't matter as three hours later after I landed Schultz picked me up at the airport and brought me back to his place. Schultz resided east of the wall on the south end of the Spree river in a student resident five minutes from the U-Bahn

From the moment I step off the underground a forceful chill overwhelmed me. It was outlandishly cold considering how warm the 2011-2012 winter has been carrying on, but Berlin is the european city of movement which kept us warm. Right from the gecko I could see something special in this city. 

Rich in events, from the once Prussian capital to the center of Western/CPSU occupation, Berlin's history is patently visible through her architecture, and I must say, the city of Berlin has stood the test of time. In the center of Berlin smack in the middle of the Spree river rests a rather large Island and on the north hand side, five breath-taking museums held some of the most faraway exhibits i've ever seen. Full buildings, endless hallways, even the bust of Nefertiti has an entire room dedicated to her.

Outside museum island the Fernsehtum radio station towers high above everything else. Its slavic style of architecture is one of the many diverse facades of Berlin. Walk down one street and pass an old Nazi prison that has be converted into an underground art exhibition. Walk a few more blocks down to the historic Brandenburg Gate built in 1791. The city is both old and new scattered with the markings of bombs and influence from a millennium of antiquity. 
Visiting some of the most eminent sites that Berlin had to offer I also managed to see some european friends. Marta, who I met while I was studying in Alicante, was also doing an erasmus year in Berlin and we had the pleasure of exploring the Berlin wall as well as a spanish fiesta. I also was blessed with a visit from Bonn my longest travel buddy Tilman. We generally see each other every three to six months to do some sort of adventure dating back from when we met in 2008 in Seville. This time he hitchhiked down for 2 days and we explored the old dutch town of Potsdam and the Palaces it beheld, my favorite was Frederick the Greats Sanssouci, as well as the Sachsenhausen concentration camp right out side the city, which was shrilling to say the least. We also managed to get kicked out of a club for not know the name of the DJ. No problem. We just went over to the kebab corner store and danced and sang Nein Mann till my plane back to Paris at six. 
Berlin is the prize of Germany and quite possibly of Europe for the young and old alike. Its a historical/artistic/advanced capital of capitals that currently is my favorite city visited so far.
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