Thursday, November 29, 2007

Berlin, Germany (Part 2)

Saturday evening we were able to tour The Reichstag, the seat of the German Parliament, which is one of Berlin's most historical landmarks. It was an interesting tour but I will spare you the details. There is a glass dome which was really cool. The dome is a gleaming metal and glass structure with a ramp that spirals up to a roof terrace with 360-degree views of central Berlin. The dome overlooks the debating chamber for the Bundestag and a central mirrored cone draws light into the plenary chamber! It was a beautiful site.

We were there at it is kinda hard to see in my pictures.

After dinner at The Reichstag we walked over to the Brandenburg Gate which is the only remaining gate of a series through which one formerly entered Berlin.

On Sunday morning when I woke up I noticed it had snowed overnight! I was so excited to see snow! It was just a little bit of accumulation but was melted off before breakfast!

Anyway, Sunday, we walked around the area which is known as Museum Island (and you know how I feel about museums)! Basically we walked and wondered around and learned some interesting history about Berlin. When it was time to go through one of the museums, the Beth's and I ditched the group again and went on our own tour of little cafes and tested out the hot chocolate from one cafe to another! It was awesome! Starbucks got my highest rating of 10 stars!

One thing I did think was cool was a place where Hitler demanded all books not in German be burned. It was on this spot where the books were burned and a monument was erected noting the empty book shelves. I thought it was cool because the monument is basically underground with a glass top where you can look inside.

We also walked by the famous Berliner Dom or Berlin Cathedral. Berlin Cathedral is situated on the Spree island and is a protestant cathedral built on the model of St.Peter's Dome in Rome. I believe it is the largest protestant church in Europe!

We also saw the The Fernsehturm (German for "television tower"). It is a well-known landmark, close to Alexanderplatz. The tower was built between 1965 and 1969 by the former German Democratic Republic, and its image was used as a symbol of Berlin by the GDR administration. The tower is easily visible throughout the central districts of Berlin, and remains a symbol of the city.

One last thing we did (before hitting up Starbucks) was to visit the Jewish Memorial. The monument to the murdered Jews of Europe is a field of 2,700 concrete slabs near the Brandenburg Gate. It was a sobering site.

Finally....we did some shopping! We went to KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens) which is the largest department store in all of Europe! It was HUGE! Despite all the shopping , I loved all of the Christmas decorations! Check them out below!

Also, I am trying to buy things specific to each country I visit. In Germany at Christmastime, you have to buy an original nutcracker (or two)! I will post pictures of my nutcrackers soon with the history of the nutcracker!

My overall impression of Berlin was very positive. It is a larger city than I expected and very crowded. It is also very very modern with a Starbucks on a lot of corners and many shopping plazas. Berlin has a fascinating history and a very prospering future!

This was my first trip ever to Germany....and I really liked the country. The people are very nice and very normal. You almost feel like you are in the US when you look around. It is hard to describe, but the Germans definitely looked 'more normal' than say people from France.

Overall, I highly recommend visiting Berlin (maybe in the springtime) was COLD!

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