Monday, October 6, 2008

Munich, (Oktoberfest), Berlin

I know it's been awhile since my last post, but the constant weekend travel has made my schedule a little crazy. Last weekend we were in Rome, which I will save for a post tomorrow, but for today I wanted to blog a little bit about our trip to Munich, Oktoberfest, and then Berlin. It was a crazy plan we had, but we decided that we're young and we're in Europe, so we might as well be as crazy as we want.
We left for Munich, Germany on Thursday morning and spent the day wandering the city. We didn't know much about Munich, and it was cold, so for the first part of the day we didn't see anything spectacular. Our main attraction for the evening was Oktoberfest, which we thoroughly enjoyed...

After celebrating with the Germans at the biggest Beir Fest in the world, we took a night train from Munich to Berlin. We were able to get rooms at a hostel right away and rest before taking a full city tour of Berlin that evening. The tour was incredible, with in-depth explanations of different buildings and monuments that bear witness to the significant events of the World Wars and the Cold Wars.

The Brandenburg Gate.

The Holocaust Memorial.

Our group standing over Hitler's bunker, a site left unmarked to avoid attracting Nazi sympathizers.

"Where books are burned, in the end people will burn." -Heinrich Heine.
The memorial of the Nazi book burnings in May, 1933. Bebelplatz, Berlin.

On Saturday a few from our group took the Red Berlin Tour, which toured and explained the different places that the Soviets used in the Cold War to separate East and West Berlin.

The East Gallery is the longest stretch of Berlin Wall left standing, and it has been painted and graffiteed to memorialize it.

After touring the entire city of Berlin, I am in awe. The city has seen so much, just within the last century, and they have completely rehabilitated themselves without forgetting anything that happened to them. They have erected monuments all over their city that, however obscure or startling or harsh or honest they may be, are unavoidable. When the German government commissioned the artist who designed the Holocaust Memorial, they agreed that they wanted it to be as large as possible, and they wanted it to be in the center of the city, so that no one could avoid confronting that part of Berlin's past. That's a bold statement.
We will never forget.

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