Nazis and Stuff

Trip Start Jun 06, 2009
Trip End Aug 31, 2009

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Where I stayed
36 Rooms Hostel

Flag of Germany  ,
Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I arrived early in the pm and just grabbed some food and talked a bit with my new roommies.

Fun fact: As some as you may know I really hate the taste of coffee. I only drink tea. That was the pre-Europe Adam, since a lot of hostels have free breakfast and free cappuccinos, I have partially acquired the taste for coffee. Some of the reason is because I donīt really get good sleep at night in hostels, so coffee is just thing I need when going out on the town for the day. And espressos really do the trick for two hours until I crash hard. And without exercising on a regular basis, I notice my body react kind of negatively and horizontally. But I donīt mind the taste anymore.

I think there is so much to see and do in Berlin and I really need to plan accordingly. So I woke up early thanks to a jolly snoring roomie, and hit the town. I went and bought a Berlin Card which enables you free public transportation, discounts on museums, and other promos. I am trying to manage my time with activities that I really want to see here and make the most of it. Since it was already kind of late, I decided to hit the free tour at the start of my Berlin trip instead of last. That way if I could meet someone I could hang with them for a day or two if possible. My tour guide was a guy named the best name that you could possibly have. His name was Adam and from the US. I think he was the best tour guide Iīve had yet. The guy had a Masterīs in German I think, was extremely knowledgeable about the city, and told stories very well. Learned about how the city was 90% leveled after WWII and you can hardly notice it at all. It has been over 60 years since but the city seems very vibrant and full of life. Learned how the city was divided and where. The east side of Berlin even has different crosswalk signs. The "donīt walk" sign is a guys head with a hat. And the green go walk guy is different than usual. That way you know what part of the city you are in. I didnīt really notice a difference between east and west at first glance. It all looks pretty much the same to me. We saw the Holocaust Memorial which is actually pretty neat to see. Saw Checkpoint Charlie, the parking lot on top where Hitlerīs secret bunker was and he committed suicide, saw some old buildings that had shrapnel and bullet holes in, and a few other memorials dedicated to various things. Learned the steps leading up to the wall being built and being torn down which was very fascinating. After the tour, I went to the Pergamon Museum which is world-famous. It houses statues built by the Greeks back in the day and had pieces of an ancient city called Pergamon. Which was actually in present-day Turkey.  It has quite a few pieces and whole statues of Greek gods, whole fronts of buildings, and original mosaic floors which was way cool. Not sure if Greece of Turkey is fighting to have the artifacts back in their home country but I wouldn't be surprised to see it soon since Greece just built that new museum for the Acropolis. We'll see!!

The next day I just walked around the city a bit. I went to Checkpoint Charlie including the museum, the Jewish Holocaust Memorial Museum, a Terror something Museum, and just did some laundry. Checkpoint Charlie was kind of cheesy. It's basically just an old shack with some sand bags in front. And some dudes in costume out in front that charge money for pictures. It was a private museum and seemed to focus on the various ways to escape into West Berlin. The museum seemed kind of old and poorly put together. Since I've been to a ton of museums all over Europe, it seemed to lack a certain something that made it genuine. But none the less, I learned a few things as always. The Jewish Holocaust Museum was obviously more of the same of what I saw at the concentraion camp. It was still pretty horrifying to see but it didn't seem to affect me as much. The museum was underground and the actual Memorial was above ground. When you see the Memorial from afar, it looks kind of awkward. When you are wandering through the stones, it kind of hits you in a certain way. Not sure why. There are 2,711 stones in all and they are of various sizes. You don't really notice the height that much from the outside of it, but when you are walking through it and the ground seems to have rolling hills in it. Which makes the stones a lot taller than yourself when you are in it. I thought it was pretty neat to be in, in a way that it can be neat to be in. Supposedly the artist didn't make it with any specific symbolism which leaves it up to your own interpretation. The rest of my day was devoted to laundry as stated as before. Yaaawwwwwnnnnn!!!!!

My final day was pretty awesome! The World Championships of Track & Field are being held in Berlin the week I was in town. I've never seen Track & Field other than on tv so I though what the heck. I kind of watched the Olympics pretty heavily last year for some reason and I thought it would be cool to check it out. So I found a schedule and saw that I could make the first day and see some events taking place. There were events at 10am until 2pm and again at 5pm. I figured a lot of the tickets might be sold out early so I made my way to the ticket office early in the morning to secure a ticket for the afternoon session since there were better events happening. It happens that you buy your ticket for the whole day and come and go as you please which was nice. Naturally I got the cheapest ticket which wasn't that cheap at all and it turned out to be a pretty good seat. I was in a corner up on top but I was right by the start line, where the athletes walk in, and where the medal podium was at. The finish line would of been a lot more naturally so I said no thanks. Most of the first day was preliminary events so all the athletes had to qualify to make it into the finals. I walked in and the shotput guys were doing there thing on my side of the track. Then some of the running events started to take place. There was event that I've never seen before called the Steeplechase. I think it was 5,000 m long and I only saw the females run it. They basically ran around the track a whole lot and they had to jump over like 4 beams stationed around the track. Then on my end of the track they had to jump on the beam and into a pool of water, then back onto the track again. Like I said, it was new to me and kind of interesting. While a lot of events were taking place, they had the long jump and pole vaulting taking place at the same time. But most of the time you would never know it because they were so far away and the jumbo-trons would only focus on the runners mostly. So I just watched what I could. A cool event that took place was the 100 m run for the men. And if you followed the Olympics last year, you know that the Jamaican Usain Bolt smashed the record quite easily. So I was pretty excited to see him run even though it was the qualifying rounds. He finally appeared and got some huge applause and then proceeded to kill the other guys around him in the run. After that race I just left and went to the Reichstag Parliament Building. They have this pretty cool globe on top that you can climb and look over the city. The building is famous because the Nazis set it on fire pre-WWII and blamed the Commies for it. Which set into motion the ability for them to have complete control over Germany and inprison their political opponents. The globe itself was pretty neat to see and be in. Then I walked the entire length of the Tiergarten which is their Central Park equivalent. In the middle of the park they have this huge golden statue up on a column. I didn't realize just how big it was unitl I came upon it. It had a small museum in the bottom and you could climb up in the column and look over the city. It was kind of a chore climbing the tight spiral stairs and probably would of made you sick if you climbed too fast. After killing a few hours doing that, I made my way back to the Olympic Stadium for round-2 of the events. I made it in time for the Opening Ceremony events which made me think why the Opening Ceremony was done after the morning events took place. Anyway, the Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel was in attendance which was kind of cool. If that was Prez Obama, everyone attending would have been frisked upon entry. Not here! I managed to sneak some cheap beer in my bag because I didn't want to pay the high prices. So that tells you something about the level or security there. The second half was pretty much more of the same as the morning. There was a 10,000 m event which took about 30 minutes to complete. The mens final in shotput which an American won. And round 2 of the mens 100m which Usain Bolt got second place. But only because he took it easy and was BS'ing before the finish which wasn't a surprise. All in all, it was neat to see world-class athletes compete and also cheer on my mighty USA in person!!! I must say, the German people in the stands were pretty good sports. They gave tons of applause to people that deserved it whether they were German or not. Like the American who got gold in Shotput and the German got bronze. I was impressed! Later that night I was planning on heading to bed and catch a few hours of sleep before I caught an early flight to Dublin Ireland. I ended up meeting some pretty cool guys in the hostel lounge, and we ended up talking until 5:30am. It was funny, you would of thought we were old friends that were catching up after so many years apart. About an hour into meeting each other, the subject of conversation turned to relationships and women. And that went on for about 2 hours ironically enough and it was pretty fun to hear all the different point of views. In our group of 5 there was French, a Dutch, a Greek and two Americans. I wish I had an example to give, but the Greek guy was the funniest person ever! His little quips and facial expressions were so unassuming, it was so funny. Despite our differences in cultures and mother tongue, we are all just the same people with the same wants in life. And it showed.

Since I stayed up way too late talking, I had to pull another all-nighter since my plane was leaving in 4 hours.  I made my way to the airport and had to make sure not to sit down to relax or else I would have fallen asleep.  But I made it.
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