Nate's Travels

An attempt to document the world-travels of Nate B. from China to Western Europe and beyond!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Berlin and Interlaken (Yet another MEGAPOST!)

Soooooo I'm finally getting around to it. I apologize that you're being agonizingly kept on the edge of your uncomfortable office chair waiting for me to post one of these, but I'm busy!!! I've got a book to read, two papers to write, and work to do for the internship before I go to Spain! But enough about me, here's more about my time in Berlin and Interlaken so you can continue to live vicariously through me!

Berlin:
We left for Berlin after school on Friday (3/9) and caught the train (the 9 hour train) to Berlin at 2:30. The train ride was pretty uneventful, but it was an extremely busy set of trains. We were using Eurail and didn't have time to get a reservation during the week so we ended up standing/sitting in between cars for probably a few hours of the trip there. Anyway, we got to our hostel (really nice; Meninger... a chain in Germany) and decided to check out the city a little bit. To give you perspective, Berlin is three times the size of Paris so we didn't get to see much at night. We actually ended up meeting a kid who lived in Florida for a while, then moved back to Germany.... anyway, some of his friends and him were going to a club near our hostel, so we tagged along. They had a friend that was DJing, ended up being a horrible DJ and a crappy club, but at least we met some cool people and tried a little German beer (Becks was still the best we had, honestly).

The next morning we got up and met the girls that we were traveling with downtown for a walking tour put on by the "NEW" company. I'll sing their praises again; they're a tips based company that gives amazing tours. It was GREAT. We started off at the Brandenburg gates and saw the place where the Reichstag (where the German parliamentary body, the Bundestag sits). Next we headed to the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe (pretty hardcore name), which was an amazing memorial. It's constructed of 2700 concrete blocks laid out in a way that they get progressively taller as you go towards the center (and they ARE big when you're walking next to them). The memorial is a kind of maze, people suddenly appear then disappear in it very quickly; this is one of the interpreted meanings of the memorial, though the architecht has never said what it actually represents. After that memorial we went to the location of Hitler's underground bunker (now the site of some nasty ex-communist apartments). Nothing is actually left of the bunker to see, it was completely demolished and filled in; not terribly exciting to see a patch of grass, but Hitler wasn't a terribly exciting guy. After that we went to the IRS of Germany, aptly housed in one of the old buildings of WWII (one of the few that wasn't bombed because it was the Airforce building... pilots were superstitious). The building had an interesting history with regards to East/West Berlin. It was one of the places some of the biggest riots took place and where one of the most awful massacres of East Berliners took place. The building has a mural of the ideal world of Socialism... it's absolutely rediculous. That same mural is offset by a giant picture set in glass in the middle of the square in front of the building of rioting workers. The mural=idealistic socialsm, the picture=socialism in practice.

After that building, we walked to the part of the wall that is still standing. It's hard to imagine the "no passing zone" around it to keep East Berliners in, but it still stands as a sobering reminder of what messed up people will do to control their populations. After the wall we walked to Checkpoint Charlie (the third checkpoint) where you'd have to go to cross between the sides of the wall, and eventually one of the first checkpoints that were overrun. After that we went to one of the big squares in Berlin, home of the bookburning memorial. The memorial is actually under the square, visible via a 3'x3' window in the ground. The memorial is nothing but giant white bookcases that supposedly have enough space to hold all of the books that were burned in the square (I'm inclined to say they numbered in the 20,000's). We saw the campus for the University of Berlin... not very big, but supposedly a very prestigious school. We visited another memorial; the Memorial against tyrany and oppression, after the bookburning memorial. It's a beautiful memorial; a mother holding her dying son cast in bronze at the center of a roman-style building. There is no artificial light, only a hole in the ceiling that allows sun and the elements through. It's very sombering, but a really neat piece. Following that we ended the tour on Museum Island (because there are lots of museums... and it's an island). We saw a church that looks very baroque (probably should fix it :P) yet was actually built in 1903 because the German Kaiser didn't feel there were enough "old" buildings in Berlin. We got a view of the berlin TV tower too, interesting structure.

After the tour we headed to an open air market where I found some of the coolest art I've seen in a while; If I had more money/a house of my own, I'd go back and decorate it with some of the pieces I saw there... it was neat! We split up after that to go change/eat on our own (Taylor and I did burger king... cheap and good), then met back up at 8 for a p/club crawl. It was a great time, very crazy, especially since we were being filmed by German TV, but we all had a blast. The next morning Taylor and I were beat from the day before so we decided to start our trip home. We made it to Koblentz then missed a connection, ended up having to wait for about an hour and ended up getting home about 2 hours later. Blah. Oh well, that's the way it works with trains. So we ended up back in Lux city at 7:00pm or something like that, had dinner and that was it! Berlin was a great city to visit, a lot of fun in the people and nightlife, but it's just so BIG! I would have liked to see more, but being so far away made it really difficult. I had a blast though!

Interlaken:

SWITZERLANDDDDD! We headed to Interlaken after school, again, though it would have been a good idea to skip Friday classes to have had more time in Switzerland. By far, it was the most beautiful place I've been; the alps were gorgeous, the towns were great for walking around, and the people were pretty friendly. We arrived at about 10pm and checked into our Hostel, Balmers Herberge (recommended by Ian at Starbucks), which ended up being a really sweet place (except their pillows sucked). We walked around the town that night, just tried to get a feel for the place. It was a pretty quiet town, but full of mountain air. It exuded relaxing feelings :). We hit the hostel bar up that night, it ended up being semi-clubby, which we were trying to get away from for the weekend, so we went to bed early (the Interlaken beer is NOT good either, so that didn't help!).

The next morning we got up early, had breakfast, and decided to go hiking. I initially had wanted to do a 500ft bungy jump, but was disappointed to find they don't open it until the spring :(. I rented some hiking boots and we went to Grindlewald to take the gondola to First ("Feerst") to start our climb. We climbed through some paths they have marked in the snow on the mountain up to Faulhorn (alt. 2795m above sea level). It was an incredibly tiring climb. It took us about 1.5 hours to hike up and about 45 minutes to hike down. We didn't get sleds, but apparently the thing to do is hike up and sled down... looked like a lot of fun. One good thing about the hike up was the restaurant at the top of the mountain! It wasn't high-class, but it was fun. We had gulash made by the most Mountain-Man looking man I've seen next to my bro-in-law (haha, sorry Sean). It was very much welcomed after we'd hiked like madmen getting up that mountain! Once we got down it was about 5pm. We decided to chill for the rest of the night in Interlaken. Unfortunately, Interlaken doesn't have much to do besides extreme sports during the day, and almost no nightlife. It was alright though, we were really tired after our hike, so we got some onion rings at Hooters (yes, it's reached Switzerland.. haha), had some GREAT wheat beer (Erdinger), and headed back to our hostel. We were going to rent a scooter in the morning, but decided against that once we got up. Eventually we decided just to head back to Luxembourg to get some schoolwork done for the next week. It ended up being a good decision, and one heck of a relaxing weekend. I miss Switzerland deeply though, it was such a beautiful country... I hope I get to go back sometime during the summer to do that bungy jump!

WOOO HOOO, WE'RE CURRENT. I'm sorry this has been such a long post, and that you've been kept in the dark about my adventures. Hope you're all doing well! Make sure to check out the pictures if you haven't at THIS SITE ! See you all soon, only 41 days of school left!

=Nate

1 Comments:

At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Nathan,

It would have been ridiculous (yes it is spelled with an "i" not an "e" (:-() to go bungee jumping after your experience in Edinburgh...one bad fall is enough! Thanks for the update. The pictures of Interlaken are incredible. See you in about 6 weeks. Love, Mom

 

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