Final stop. Berlin, Germany.
Being from Cincinnati, it is well assumed that there is some German linage in me, about 50% actually. I’ve grown up with the Hofbrauhaus down the street and traditional German food my entire life so there was no one surprised when I was most excited to visit Berlin. The atmosphere from the beginning was much different than I expected. On the first night we had a meal that contained traditional German dishes. I was used to sauerkraut and pork but let me tell you this was far better than any food I could get at home. Surprisingly enough this would be the last “real” meal I ate in Germany. The rest of the time I spent eating bratwurst and currywurst from street vendors.
After being in Poland, I knew how delicious street food could be but this was something completely different. The frites that came with them were some of the greatest French fries I have ever eaten. Everything about Germany seemed relatively simple. The building were all much newer than the previous cities and there didn’t seem to be a huge rush to get anywhere. The most interesting thing I found was that most businesses were closed on Mondays.
As we began to explore museums and historical sites, we were given an even newer perspective. We were seeing the war from the eyes of those responsible for it. Most of the museums were much more factual than any we had seen before. They contained no sense of nationalism or emotion. I was also surprised to learn that German school children must visit a certain number of holocaust informational or memorial cites in a certain period to enhance their curriculum. This might be the most powerful way that Germany is taking responsibility. This complete acceptance of responsibility for their part in the war is being turned into a learning tool to help Germany stay a part of the Western World. I think putting Germany at the end of our trip increased my knowledge to let me see just how much responsibility they took for the war. A tour guide told us her Grandmother was a part of the war and when asked about it she always said she didn’t want to talk about it or that it was the Nazis and not the peoples fault. It’s surprising to me that the next generation had to be the ones to change the views and education to reflect the faults in the German past.
The place I found most nationalistic was the Bundestag, the home of the German parliament. Here it was repeated over and over how much the city believes and supports democratic ideals. The architecture even led to the ideal of the people being the main voice in government decisions.
Berlin is known to be the site of division of the eastern and western worlds because of the Berlin Wall. Going into the city I had no idea the size or power of this wall. After visiting the eastern gallery, a small section of the wall dedicated to the art created on it, I began to gain a perspective of just how large the city was. This small part took around thirty to forty minutes to walk past. The gallery has dedicated their time and money to the upkeep of the wall. In 1990, a year after the wall fell, they had local artists use the remaining portions as a canvas. I found this incredibly inspiring as they took something that was so ugly and so destructive and made something incredibly beautiful. Most of the art encourages the viewers to look at their world and change what is wrong with it.
Overall, this city and the entire trip in general, gave me a new found appreciation for myself and the world around me. This journey has taught me not only that I am completely capable of navigating foreign countries but also that perspective is everything. Over time I have gained a certain beliefs or expectations of the world and this trip destroyed that. By immersing myself in so many different cultures I began to understand much more about the bubble I had been living in and how happy I was to change that. This journey will be one not soon forgotten and as I sit in the Orlando Airport I am desperately tempted to jump on a plane back to London. Over the last month I have been given so much more than I could’ve hoped and I couldn’t be more grateful.
żyje się tylko raz,