After leaving Italy, it was hard to believe we still had another city to see, Berlin. I know what you must be thinking. What two polar opposite places to see in one trip. But I will tell you that seeing Berlin was the greatest history lesson I have ever had.
Even though Berlin, Germany is not full of ancient history like Rome, it is filled with recent history and history that has shaped the past 100 years.
Berlin has been through war, destroyed and built up again. The Germans take pride in their city and do not let their past defined Berlin.
During our first few hours in the city, it was definitely a sight to see. When we were going to our hostel to sleep for the night, we walked out of the metro station to find lovely ladies “standing” on the corner of our street. You can imagine the first impression of Berlin I received.
We quickly realized the hostel we had booked was right in the middle of the Red Light District of Berlin. At first I was a little weary about this, but I basically live in Amsterdam, so it was nothing I have not seen before.
My favorite thing about Berlin was that Michael was joining us on our trip! It had been us three girls the whole trip and it was nice to have our other travel partner back with us (And he brought us flowers, so we couldn’t complain having him there).
That day we did a walking tour of Berlin. We saw all the major sights of the city. We started at the Brandenburg gate and from there we saw, the hotel that Michael Jackson held his baby off a balcony (Great first thing to see, I know), then we saw the memorial to the murdered Jews, Hitler’s bunker in World War II, the remains of the Berlin wall, Checkpoint Charlie, and then ended in the museum quarter of Berlin.
By the end of the day, I was exhausted. Traveling is one of the most fun and exhilarating things to do, but it is also one of the most exhausting things. Traveling for a week and a half nonstop is pretty exhausting.
That night we went and had dinner, curry wurst and pretzels, then went to bed early. The next morning we visited the concentration camp, Sachsenhausen.
This was one of the most eye opening experiences I have ever had. Sachsenhausen was the first concentration camp of World War II, and many people do not know it even exists. When you think of the Holocaust and the concentration camps, your mind ultimately goes to Auschwitz.
This camp was not as near as brutal in killing people, but it was famous for torturing them. The most curious thing about this camp though was that it was in the middle of a neighborhood.
At the beginning of the tour, our guide said that it was up to our imaginations to decide whether or not the people living in the neighborhood had any idea of what was happening in their back yard. For me, it was hard to even wrap my head around this thought.
Being in the camp, it was one of the most uncanny experiences I have had. They told us that we were allowed to take pictures, but for me at least, I felt this place didn’t deserve to be photographed. So many people were killed and tortured in the very place I was standing, I couldn’t even think about taking pictures.
Although much of the camp is rebuilt because they had to burn all the remnants of the camp due to the spread of disease, there were still many original parts.
We were in the camp for over 2 hours and by then end I don’t think I could have handled any more.
I have grown up learning about the Holocaust and World War II my whole life in school and to actually be there first hand, seeing the places in my text book and on movies I have watched, it was a whirlwind of emotions.
It is one of those things where you can learn all about it, but actually being there, you get a whole different perspective. A very eye opening and heart aching perspective.
Even though it was one of the more tragic things I have seen, it was still a worthwhile.
Our last day in Berlin was a relaxing one. By this time we had been traveling 9 days and I thought I was exhausted before, but I was even more beat then.
Spending Spring Break in both Italy and Germany was extraordinary, but I was ready to go home.
The feeling of being away from your home for a while then returning to your own bed and shower is indescribable.
This was the trip of a lifetime and I will never forget all the things this trip taught me. It was one of the most marveling, wonderful, fulfilling trips I have been on.