In my previous post I talked about how I would be going to Berlin! Well, I just got back and now I'm going to tell you about it. But first you probably want an update on my health because my last post sounded pretty awful. I didn't leave the house from Sunday the 4th of December until Tuesday the 13th. I missed an entire week of school (no complaints there), watched a lot of movies, and wrote a lot of Christmas cards. It was a long time but I managed. Tuesday night I was still sick but well enough to go to my Rotary Christmas dinner. I couldn't taste the fancy food but I think it was good...?
The next morning I got up early and headed to the train station. Off to Berlin! We (as in Team Willich) took an hour and a half train ride to Frankfurt where we met with district 1860 who we would be traveling to Berlin with. We got onto their bus and had to awkwardly introduce ourselves. It was like the new kid enters their first school bus horror scene. We found seats and then began our eight hour drive to Berlin. We listened to music and got to know some of the new people we would be spending the week with. This was the last day I was still noticeably sick so I wasn't the most energetic on the bus.
The ride went surprisingly fast and we arrived at our hotel. We found our rooms and then left for Berlin Hauptbahnhof (central station) where we took the train to an Italian restaurant. I was expecting a pizza parlor but it ended up being a pretty fancy place. I ordered a calzone (Ben Wyatt would be proud) which I was not disappointed with. After pizza we walked to the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg gate) at midnight. It was lit up with lights and there was a giant Christmas tree. Germany takes Christmas very seriously. We took some pictures like the tourists we are and then headed back to the hotel to finally sleep.
The next day we woke up for an early breakfast and then started a bus city tour. After a long day of travel and minimal sleep the night before I will admit that I did sleep through a bit of that tour. In my defense I was still sick and I needed the rest to make it through the rest of the day with full energy.
I cannot tell you about the bus tour but I can tell you about the next tour we took a few hours later to Sans Souci castle in Potsdam. Sans Souci was the summer palace of King Frederick the Great who was the king of Prussia from 1740-1786. The name of the castle is French and means "without worry." King Frederick wanted the castle built so he could have a getaway from the chaotic Berlin Court. The castle was more like a villa than a palace. It was only one story and had only ten bedrooms, enough to hold his all male guests. King Frederick invited many intellectuals to his castle. It is said that he "squeezed" the knowledge from them then promptly threw them away.
One thing that sets King Frederick the Great apart from other kings is that he asked to be buried at Sans Souci. He has a simple grave stone and his two beloved dogs buried beside him. Most kings are buried with their royal families in churches but King Frederick thought of himself as a philosopher rather than a king and wanted to be buried without excessive splendor.
And now pictures...
After Sans Souci we went back to the hotel, ate dinner, and then left for a Jugenddisco (club for young people). Sick Kale was sick no more because she had to dance to her American music.
The next day we took a tour of Parliament and the Federal Chancellery. We saw Angela Merkel on her way into the Chancellery and she waved at us. It was so cool!
The next day was Saturday. We had the whole day to do whatever we wanted in Berlin. Eva, Raquel, and I bought a day train pass and spent the day traveling all over the city. We went first to the East Side Gallery which is the part of the Berlin Wall that is covered in murals.
After the East Side Gallery we went to the Pergamon Museum (with recommendation from my lovely friend Ezra Mead). It was a really cool museum that had two giant Greek architectural pieces and another exhibit of Islamic art. The main attraction of the museum, the Pergamon Alter was under construction so unfortunately we were unable to see it but we did see the Market Gate of Miletus (pictured below). I met up with my home district twin Kailey in the museum. She's also on exchange in Germany and she happened to be in Berlin the same time as me so we were able to meet up! It was really fun to see someone from home again even for a short time.
The girls and I had some Christmas shopping to do so after our time in the museum we took a train to the Mall of Berlin. We had been there before on our Deutschland tour back in October so we knew it was the perfect place to buy gifts. Plus it was warm unlike outside where it was freaking freezing. The mall is huge and let me just say it's a good thing I didn't have more time there than I did or else I would've bought myself a whole new wardrobe.
Saturday was a really successful day. I saw the Berlin wall, went to a museum, bought Christmas gifts, and managed to use the Berlin train system for an entire day without getting lost. Big accomplishments. Sunday was less active and productive because it consisted of sitting on the bus back to Frankfurt for another seven hours. Team Willich said their goodbyes to our new friends in district 1860 and made our way back home. I did miss my own district a bit on this trip but all in all it was a good five days.
Until we meet again Berlin, Kaeleigh