Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ich bin ein Beliner! Wait... Ich bin Beliner! Besser.

Sidenote: For those who don't know, the first phrase in the entry title means "I am a jam doughnut." The second phrase, without the infinitive, means "I am a person from Berlin." President Kennedy stated the FIRST phrase years ago... I will not make the same mistake, but because I love Kennedy (as most Germans do), he is forgiven.

Plus, it was really funny... and meant to be really powerful.

Thus, ich bin Beliner, for a weekend...

So, this entry is not one of the "thankfulness memos!" I love writing those, but I have to also take time to update everyone on the real happenings in my life! What's the greatest is that even though this is not a "thankfulness memo," I am indeed thankful for all the events that have taken place in the last few weeks... I'm going to need a few entries to cover it all!

First, I went to Berlin with my friend Luise! She was a pretty amazing tour guide and hostess, if I do say so myself.... and I do. Haha... We had a great time hanging out with her family, and she showed me all around the city - very awesome!

Second, my family came to visit me! We went to the Netherlands together and visited extended family. We traveled all over this area of Germany as I showed them some of my favorite places, and as we explored some new sights together. We even had a traditional, American Thanksgiving at the Miller's home - a family from my ward here in Bonn - with a few American families and the missionaries! It was a fantastic week...

Now, I'm not going to write HUGE entries about everything, but I WILL have to break it up a bit to fit in even the basics. Haha! So, let's start with.... Berlin.

Three weekends back, I headed up on to Berlin on a Friday evening with Luise and a random guy (he drove us, and we paid him 30 bucks) that dropped us at her parent's home. I was so excited to see the city sights and live for a weekend in a place with so much history. I was most excited to see some of the WWII sights and the sights of the Berlin Wall. I had a feeling that I would have powerful emotions thorough-out the weekend, and I was right... It was SUCH a great experience!

On Saturday, after a traditional German breakfast with the family, Luise and I set out to see the sights of Berlin. The first place that she took me was Check-Point Charlie. We headed down the way to take signs by the old booth and sign reading, "You are now leaving the American sector..." Right next to the old booth and memorial was a history wall with facts about the wars and the Berlin Wall, how other countries helped in the crisis that followed each event, and all about Germany, and Berlin in particular, have helped reform themselves. It was really cool! I stood and read half the wall, walking slowly down to take in more and more, as Luise waited patiently for me to finish. Haha!

We continued down the street and came across to unknown highlights of Berlin. One, the mini-cooper store!!! It was totally cool - you could design your own mini-cooper and order it there to have it delivered anywhere. It was a BIT out of my price-range, but it was still fun to take pictures and see all the different kinds of minis.

Second, the Ritter-Sport Chocolate store. Can you say, HEAVEN? I can. Ritter-Sport Chocolate. That's right... BAM! In the store you can get all their chocolate for CHEAPER, AND you can have them create your very own chocolate bar right there in front of you. I picked Milk Chocolate with Jogurt Chips, Erdbeer pieces, and honey-roasted almonds (cause, I need more sugar, right?)... It was the most expansive and best-tasting chocolate bar ever... Totally worth it.

As the day went on, we headed toward other major sights like the Berliner Dom, Museum Quarters, Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz, Reichstag, and even the spot where Hitler's Nazis actually burned books in 1933. There was a quote from Heinrich Heine printed there, which said, "Wherever books are burned, human beings are destined to be burned too." It was really powerful and very cool... The sight had a large glass window over the ground, looking into the empty library shelves. It wasn't the most amazing-looking sight, but it was one of the coolest spots for me.

We headed on in the early evening to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It is a really cool design of different sized, rectangular pillars, and one must go underground to get into the actual museum. I thought there must be some specific reason for all the different sized pillars, but there is no specific reasoning... It's just what the architect chose to create. It's kinda random, but I loved it. We had fun walking through the pillars and taking pictures, and then had a sobering experience inside the actual museum.

After the memorial, we headed into a part of town where pieces of the original Berlin Wall stood... It was cool to see, but I was disappointed that some people had come along and drawn on them. YES, I know people did that back in the day, but people had written "2009" or "We Rock 2005!" in bold over parts of the wall... They had stick gum all over the sides... I wish they hadn't, but I guess it could be argued that it adds to what once was for the wall when it was in place. Still...

Anyway, we walked around downtown, saw some of the sight, had a GREAT dinner at Maredo's, and then headed back to Luise's house. The next day I went to church in her ward, which was different... Here in Bonn, most people speak English, but there it was not as common. However, Luise translated during Sunday School and RS, and they had their Primary program during sacrament meeting, which was universal... Little kids are clearly hilarious everywhere. LOVE IT.

That afternoon, we went on a walk by Luise's house where she took me on the path of the wall. She remembers playing on it as a child, where she was when it fell, and feeling like it was too loud after it came down - haha! In the picture to the right, I am straddling the line right next to her home. We walked by the memorial to the last person who gave his life trying to cross the wall - right next to her home. It was really cool to see, and crazy to think it was all in her backyard. The walk around the area made me think of 9/11 and it's effects... Interesting.

So, after dinner and hilariously trying to play games in German with the family, we headed home to Bonn... It was a good, fulfilling trip. I am SO glad I had the chance to visit Berlin before I left Germany. I would have greatly regretted not doing so before I left. Berlin, I think I kinda love you.

Song of the Day: I was debating between two or three different songs, but today's song is going to be one that my sister introduced me to. I am in love with it... Here is Brandon Flowers (the lead singer for The Killers) with his song, Crossfire.

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