Saturday, April 16, 2016

Berlin, Germany

First, a little background story:

In February I was supposed to spend a long weekend in Istanbul. I was so excited to explore the markets, the Haga Sophia, and buy some turkish delight (my favorite)! Unfortunately the tourist-targeted bombings in January lead us to cancel our trip. I was really bummed. It makes me sad to think that there is all this violence in our world, and I wanted to believe that the odds of it impacting me were minute. So I said that we should just go anyway, but my friend insisted that we do the safe thing, and in hindsight I'm grateful we did.  The day before we would have left, another bomb went off in their capitol, and a few weeks later there was a suicide bombing less than 1 kilometer away from where our Airbnb we had rented was. 

So instead we booked a trip to Berlin, which really wasn't a bad consolation prize. 

It was a little cold in February, but I had an awesome time! Berlin is not quite picturesque like some other German cities, so much of it was destroyed during WWII. But it has great museums, food, and so much history! I definitely recommend it. I was really only there for about 2 days, but I saw so much of the city and had a great time, so it was worth it! 

The Brandenburg Gate ^^  a symbol of Berlin's freedom and peace. One of the most iconic landmarks in Berlin, it was built in 1791 and survived both the World Wars. The gate is near the Berlin Wall and thus was prohibited from being accessed between 1961 and 1989, which is why it is now, especially, considered a symbol of freedom and unity. 
^^ Travel buddy & roomie for 3 years! s/o to Marina! 
This is also the sight of Regan's famous 'Tear Down this Wall' speech and to the left of the gate (out of the picture) is the US embassy which recently was in hot water for hosting NSA officials who were tapping Angela Merkel and other top German official's phone calls. Oops.  
I only included this photo because our tour guide told us that this the Hotel where Michael Jackson held his child over the balcony (if anyone remember that incident?), who knew it was a sight-seeing destination! I guess I can say I've seen that now! 
Love these little 'Trabi" cars that you'd see all over Berlin! They were produced by East Germany.
World War relics 
This photo (^^)  doesn't look like much, but beneath this unassuming gravel soil is the bunker where Hitler committed suicide. It caved in and the German people decided to leave it as a kind of unmarked grave, there is only one small sign that let's you know it isn't just an empty lot. 
The checkpoint between East and West Berlin that got pretty heated at times! 
^^ This is me making fun of Marina for never smiling in photos of us together! Ha, who's laughing now! 
Candid at the Berlin Wall ^^ 
Berlin Wall artwork!! 
My favorite Berlin Wall mural!! "My God Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love." I looked up the story behind it too. I thought it was supposed to be an ironic painting, but it is based on a real photograph (!) Apparently in the communist party there is such a thing as "the fraternal kiss" and if you want to show that you're 'really' brotherly than you kiss and the leaders of the Soviet Union and East Germany pictured here in 1979 were celebrating their close alliance at a communist party event. Ten years before the Berlin wall came down. 
That avocado toast was insanely delicious! It had some kind of infused olive oil on it that was to die for. We ending up going to this coffee shop for breakfast every day we were there! 
I loved the little crossing sign guy! It's one of the few unique East German things to have survived the fall of the Iron Curtain. 
We spent an afternoon at the Pergamon Museum and it was honestly one of the coolest museums I've ever been to! I think that the Germans and British must have a real monopoly on Near Eastern Antiquities and Islamic Art, I've never seen exhibits like this in the US!  
The highlight was definitely the Gates of Ishtar that were one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and marked the entrance to Babylon! I still am in disbelief that they actually excavated these and restored them! It's amazing! The gate was under renovation when we were there, but you could still mostly see it! 
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (^^) 
The spy museum! (^^) In the museum I also saw the Turing Machine and the Engima machine, both featured in The Imitation Game, a great Benedict Cumberbatch movie!
A female femme fatale spy ^^ 
Wall of Poisons in the Spy Museum ^^ This is me when Marina tells me to do my best 'serious' face.. I'm really bad at 'not smiling' on demand. 

And that's it for Berlin! It was a short, but sweet weekend adventure! 

I've got lots more to catch you up on this semester! Hopefully I'll get to that soon! 

xx Jess 

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