Haschen. Chicken. I have found the only word that I need to get around Berlin, Germany. Well, that and Ausgang — which means exit. Tuesday afternoon, after my history midterm, Debra and I began our journey to the airport after triple checking that we had all of our documentation to leave the country. We road Ryanair, one of the few relatively cheap airlines offered for travel on the European continent, for the first time. After wandering around the airport in search of our gate, we finally realized that those flying with Ryanair will be notified of their respective gate 30 minutes before the gate closes. We spent the remainder of our time reading books and discussing where we would go.
If you are looking for a great hostel for a few nights in Berlin, check out the One80 Hostel. I had my doubts about the safety and comfort of the hostels but I enjoyed our stay overall. The hostel hosts young adults from all over. There was a comfortable lounge where everyone mingled and got to know each other. In order for residence to reach their floor they needed to swipe their keycard when they entered the elevator. This coupled with the individual and spacious lockers available for each resident in their shared room made me feel at ease about leaving my belongings in the room while exploring the city.
We only stayed for 48 hours and needed to make the best of our short time in the city. We began by walking to a local cafe called Cafe Hilde. On our way a German woman riding her bicycle made a few passing comments in German. We laughed and giggled when ever she paused. Debra thought it would be a good idea to point and attempt to pronounce one of the street signs. I guess she thought it would make our fake covers as native Germans believable. We failed. After walking into Cafe Hilde and completely butchering one of the entrees, the waiter said “English.”
After brunch, we hopped on the 100 bus towards the Brandenburg Gate. Two streets before our bus stop it decided to snow. Not the little sprinkles that can happen in the beginning of winter, but full on hail. We were beyond confused. Around 2 pm I was baffled because we checked the whether multiple times and there was not a warning against random snow falls throughout the day.
Since we are poor college students we went on a free walking tour with George from Missouri, or misery as he likes to call it. He helped to put the history of Germany into perspective. I enjoyed his charisma, jokes, and fun facts. All of the guides aim to make their tours the best because they are not paid by the hour. The German people have made an effort to atone for the actions of their ancestors. All citizens are informed about the past and the effect that nationalism can have on any group of people. There are memorials located all over the city. The most inspiring action that I believe that the German people have done for themselves is adding the dome addition to the Reichstag, their parliament building. The dome addition of the building allows for any visitor to look directly into the debating room of Parliament. This keeps the members of their relatively new democracy accountable for their actions.
On our last day in Berlin we went back to the cafe for breakfast. Then we hopped back on the 100 for a full tour of the city. The bus takes all passengers on a tour around the city to the major locations for learning and sightseeing. When the ride finished we went into Bikini Berlin. It is one of the most expensive malls that I have been in. None of the stores in the building are chain buildings.
On Saturday, the girls and I took a trip to Paris, France for the day. Groupon came through with a round trip Eurostar ticket, a ticket to a chocolate factory, and a river ride ticket. We began our trip around 5 am to make our way to the train station to check in. After a 3 hour train ride we made our way to the chocolate museum.
We were given a free chocolate making demonstration. Unfortunately, the whole demonstration was in French with about three English words over a 20 minute period. Before we made our way to every iconic Paris photo spot, we found the best selfie lighting on the second floor of the chocolate museum. We each got metro day passes and made our way around the city. I am pretty sure that I have at least 50 photos of the same pose with slight variations for each of our stops. My favorite would be the Eiffel Tower. I had this weird feeling as we got closer to the actual structure. It’s hard to describe the feeling that I get when I am finally in a place that I have dreamed about going for so long.
If I were going to have such a short visit on earth, I had to do everything possible to experience it now. –Eat, Pray, Love