Monday, April 1, 2013

First Day in Berlin....A Flop

 You know that feeling you get when you arrive in New York City? It's that feeling of knowing you've "finally arrived." Buildings surround you, people rush by, and the only thing you are currently focused on is getting to where you want to be. That is exactly the feeling I felt while visiting Berlin. The one difference though -- I didn't feel like a tiny ant in the middle of the three-ring circus.

Coming from the south, New York can be well...overwhelming, but in Berlin, the only thing that is overwhelming are the massive structures and statues that you pass, not the crowds of people hurrying by and sometimes bumping you out of the way like the tourist you are.

Staying only minutes away from many of Berlin's greatest attractions, we wasted no time in whipping out our map and hitting the pavement. Thankful for the somewhat "warmer" temperatures that first day, mom and I were eager to make our first stop at the Berlin Cathedral. Getting us there rather quickly, we rounded a corner to see this unbelievable sitting near the river. It's green dome shown high in the sky and the bronzed exterior glistened beautifully thanks to the setting sun. 

Now, don't get me wrong, there are some impressive churches here in the U.S., but in all honesty, they can't hold a candle to what we were looking at, at that moment. If the inside was as grand as the outside, we were in for a big treat. But, as our luck would have it, our first attempt at seeing the inside of this cathedral was a loss. Here's a tip: whatever your guide book may tell you regarding the opening hours of an attraction you'd like to's not always 100% right. Although my guidebook told me it didn't close until 7 p.m., they stopped allowing visitors at 5 p.m. Go figure. A bit aggravated, we dealt with the change in plans and set off for our next point-of-interest, Bebelplatz.

What is that you say? Bebel-what? For those of you who have some knowledge into Nazi history, Bebelplatz was the site where the massive book burning took place in Berlin during the 1930s. Great authors and poets books were burned in a massive heap, all due to the Nazi's idea that specific teachings and ideas would be corruptive to the Nazi ideologies. 

I spotted the location on the map and watched the street names as we walked by. My mom could tell I was growing frustrated because the area in which it was supposed to be was between two small side streets on the map. Probably wondering where in the world I was taking her, we walked around scaffolding, buildings, through covered walkways and along side streets to come to....nothing. Everything that pointed to Bebelplatz was hidden behind the large amounts of scaffolding that surrounded the area near Humboldt University. 

Now, not only had we been turned away at Berlin Cathedral, but we were now unable to get to Bebelplatz....aggravated? That's putting it nicely. We were at least going to get to go back and see the cathedral, but I wasn't going to get to see Bebelplatz at all. To say I was disappointed was an understatement. Luckily, my mom was cheery and in awe of the architecture surrounding us that it was hard to stay in a bad mood for long. 

Opting that since our first day in Berlin was a flop, she suggested we go for dinner. Sounding like a good idea, we stumbled upon a Mexican restaurant and quickly grabbed a table near the heater. (It had grown chilly outside at this point). Ordering German beer and a drink that had me salivating for more (a lady's sidecar), we ate our cheesy meals and asked for our ticket. Now, anyone who has traveled to Europe knows that they often do not get in a hurry when brining your ticket. So we waited, and waited, and waited.....and waited. Telling three separate people that all we wanted was our ticket, one waiter noticed our tapping fingers and brought us over two tequila shots, with lemon. Happy by this kind act of generosity, my mom quickly asked me, "now how do I do this?" Finding humor in showing my mom how to do a proper tequila shot, I sprinkled some salt on my hand, licked it up, took the shot and bit into the lemon wedge. 

As I watched her, I came to the conclusion that I have never seen anyone take a more dainty sip of tequila in my life. She didn't even take the whole shot! Just as she finished the substance, her phone rang. Her attempts at answering were humorous as her face contorted due to the strong taste of the tequila and sourness of the lemon.

All in all, our first day in Berlin may have been a flop and may have ended on a "sour" note, but looking back, it was all a part of the experience. I love Berlin and I'd grow to love it even in more in the coming days.


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