This weekend I had the chance to go to Germany for the second time. I have visited Munich before on a family vacation with my parents and siblings, and this time my friends and I decided to go to Berlin for a weekend. The second I stepped off the plane, I felt like I had turned into an ice cube. There were snow flurries falling and a soft sheet of white powder covering the tops of trees and the ground. I knew Berlin would be colder than Barcelona, but I had forgoten how cold winter is because for the past three years I have been at school in the southern part of Miami where the temperature rarely gets below 65 degrees Farenheit.
Upon our arrival, we went straight to our hostel where we would be staying for the weekend. The hostel was an interesting experience for me and this was the first time I have ever stayed in a hotel that had a bathroom located in a separate room next door. I tried to stay positive about the experience since it is always important to be flexible, especially while traveling with a group. Our first day felt a little dark and gloomy. However, we decided to go to the Reichstag Dome as a way to stay warm. We walked up and down the steps inside and were able to see a great view of the city. Later that night we experienced a Pub Crawl, which was one of the highlights of my trip. The man who was coordinating the evening took us to four different bars in the City, and it was fun to see how different the nightlife is in Berlin as compared to that of Barcelona. I also bumped into a few friends from my college who were traveling to Berlin the same weekend. What a small world!
The second day seemed to go a little smoother. We started the day off by going to the Berlin Wall and visiting the gallery with large graffiti art walls. I had a great time taking pictures and learning more about the background of the wall and how the city was divided into East and West Germany. After taking pictures and enjoying each other’s company, we decided to do an afternoon walking tour. This tour was another highlight to my trip. Even though it was so cold outside and I could barely feel any circulation in my toes, I thought the tour guide was fantastic and had wonderful things to say about Berlin.
The guide was from England and had moved to Berlin five years ago when he came to visit the City as a journalist. He fell in love with Berlin and all it had to offer. He had a very interesting way of explaining Germans and their view on WWII. I also liked how unbiased he was. Before coming to Berlin, I had misconceptions about what it may have been like to grow up there. He explained that growing up German, you learn from mistakes and never forget your past. Even now, I can’t help but think of how depressing that must be. I know in America, we have such pride for our country and our nation. I suppose because of the events of World War II and the Cold War, Berlin contains a lot of depressing history that lies within its city. Even though I did enjoy visiting, I would never live or wish to be born in a place like that.
The tour also allowed us to visit various sites around the city. Some that will be most memorable were the Brandenburg Gate, The Holocaust Memorial, and Hitler’s Führerbunker, where he committed suicide. To continue to warm ourselves up, I remembered one of my favorite places which I have been to before called Hofbrauhaus (a beer garden) I took my friends there and we had a great time relaxing and drinking some German beer.
Our last day we visited the Holocaust museum. Even though I do appreciate each visit to the Jewish sites, since I have such a strong Jewish background, I was a little disappointed in the museum. I felt like there was a lot of information missing and it did not contain anything other than pictures and videos. I have visited both the Holocaust museum in Washington, DC and Yad Vashem (in Israel) and they both have many displays and other forms of artifacts.
This trip was extremely educational and I learned more about my Jewish roots. Even though I am constantly connected to Jewish education, I always manage to learn more each time I visit a new city or country. I wish I felt a deeper connection to Germany since my father was born in Munich. It is just hard for me to be so comfortable in a place that was once a place that was so unaccepting and cruel to my loved ones. I hope that one day I can put the past behind me and feel something different for the country. I guess for now some German chocolates will have to do.