Monday, August 9, 2010


In our book club, we often mention that there are books that we read that we wouldn't necessarily pick out to read for ourselves, but after we read them, we are glad we did. Berlin was like that for me. I'm not sure we would have picked it out as a destination city on our vacation, but Kasia was there and it was awesome that we would be so far from home and get to be with family. She was actually the one who suggested going to Europe in the first place and started our planning ideas.
I knew very little about Berlin except for the Berlin Wall, and having seen it and read about it now I realize I knew very little. In fact, there are some aspects that have me curious and I'd like to do some reading and learn more about a lot of things from that time and place in history. Here we are at CheckPoint Charlie and standing by a piece of the Berlin Wall.Berlin fascinated me because there was so much old and historical architecture juxtaposed against some ultra modern architecture and art.
This was my favorite place in Berlin. I think it was a favorite place of a lot of people because you can see the line to get in. It is called the Reichstag. This is what I'm talking about with the old and new styles mixed. The entrance looked like this, and then the back was an ultra modern dome where you could put on headphones and tour around and up the ramp of the dome. It was an audio tour of the sights you could see around Berlin out the windows from the dome. It was awesome. Then down through the glass floor below in the dome, you could see into the area where the senate meets.

Ok, I actually had another favorite place too. The Ritter Sport Chocolate Factory. Ever had Ritter Chocolate? It is pretty darn good. But unfortunately, America only sells a couple of so-so flavors. The really good flavors (yogurt filled in particular) are nowhere to be found here. But I heard you can buy them on-line. I may have to look into that. Do you know why Ritter Sport sells square chocolate bars instead of rectangle bars like everyone else? Mrs. Ritter noticed that the thin rectangle bars broke in people's pockets at the nearby sports stadium. She created a sturdier square chocolate bar would fit into every jacket pocket without breaking. Now you know some useless trivia in case that ever comes up in conversation.We ended up buying bagfuls of sample flavor bars. You would have thought we could buy a conservative sized bag to share between the three of us, but no. All three of us walked out of there with an embarrassingly large quantity of chocolate that we enjoyed for days.

This was a cool place. It was a memorial to the Jews. There were 1000s of these cement posts or pillars or whatever they are, in the courtyard and they started out small and they grew taller in the center as well as the ground went down until you were walking through deep down inside of them. Inside the memorial itself was a beautiful display of first hand written accounts of those that experienced the concentration camps, written by some who survived but mostly journals written by those who did not survive. We also went to a museum called "Topography of Terror" displaying the atrocities of awfulness that went on in Germany. After visiting those two places, we felt emotionally drained and looked forward to something a little more light hearted. We really crammed a lot into 2 days. Among other stops, we visited Ka DeWe (Kaufhous Des Westens), a seven story very high-end department store, strolled through a wonderful Lantern Museum in the park, and saw Berlin Fashion Week, wishing I could go in, but certainly not dressed for such an event. However, I was watching for any celebrities as we walked by.

A good and fast paced visit through Berlin, along with a delicious dinner with Kasia and her friend Mirka, where we ate typical German food like Knodel, Sauerbraten, Apfelstrudel, and Rollbraten. Delicious!


everyday katie said...

Do you seriously only come up to Kasia's shoulder?

I think German history is fascinating.

And that picture of Dave in the chocolate display is priceless.

Lauri said...

I love your commentaries! Good descriptions for those of us who were stuck in Arizona for the summer.

Bandanamom said...

Yeah, I've never thought about going to Germany all that much, but your turning around my thinking on that subject.

Cynthia said...

I know Katie, I only reached Kasia's shoulder. Did I mention she was tall? She was such an awesome tour guide through Berlin. She really gave us a wonderful tour of all her favorite places. She even pointed out the free bathrooms and the cool water drinking fountains which I didn't know until later how rare those things are!

Anonymous said...

Such a wonderful opportunity! I still chill a bit when I think of Berlin, silly I know, but when we lived there it was still under communisum & people were still being shot trying to escape. I'm glad my eyes are being "opennend" through your experiences!

Suzanne Barker said...

I love sharing your trip with you! I really like the crocodile spitting water. He was awesome! And I love the Ritter Chocolate factory. You are my kind of girl!
Isn't it amazing all you realize you don't know about after you go somewhere like that? And you thought you knew all you needed to know before...