Tuesday, July 20, 2010

to those of you who 'miss me' -

I'm sorry I haven't immediately updated. I've realized lately that I ONLY HAVE ONE MORE WEEK HERE, so instead of blogging all night, I've been going to bed so I can feel good for endless train rides and nude beaches the next day ;)

I'll give you a brief overview of my time Berlin, but it is pretty much impossible to explain to you how it made me feel… I was upset most of the time, mostly because it just made me feel like a greedy uncultured American. BUT I still loved it there. And I want to go back. And I could live there if I knew a bit more of the language.
Anyway, my 3 days went as follows, like and is such as -

We took a train (goodness I love European train rides) for about 2 hours from Dresden into the city, and as usual, we had to (drag) take our luggage with us from the Hauptbanhof to the hostel. As I'm lugging my hotpink HUGE suitcase 5 blocks to 'Backpax'… I already know that this city is too fast paced for me to be dragging all my stuff behind me. But I trudged on anyway.

We took a 3.5 walking tour of the city, but In a place 2x as large as NYC (land-mass wise), you can imagine we'd probably need 3.5 years to see everything. My feet were barely holding up, but I saw the Parliament building, the Brandenburg Gate, the Opera houses & museums on 'museum island', a few city halls (there are 36, weird I know) a million churches and the TV tower. With graffiti covering every wall and more languages than I'd ever heard in my life, I knew staying here for only 3 days wouldn't be enough for me. I'm already dying to see all the things I missed.

The next morning we rolled out of bed (after construction woke us up at 6am, this country is LOUD) to head to the old Stasi prison [Hohenschönhausen] to see what life was like before the Berlin Wall came down. And this place was terrifying. I've been so saturated with knowledge of the holocaust (I've always been fascinated, I've watched every movie, read every article… anyway) I've never learned much about what happened AFTER. I never knew about hidden cameras and typewriters in attics and tiny microphones in your neighbors kitchen. East Germany vs. West Germany was a terrible time in this country, and learning about it in detail broke my heart.

Our tour guide lead us to rooms smaller than my original dorm room (13x13ft) where up to 12 people would be kept, in the clothes they were captured in, no beds, no toilet, (only a bucket, for 12 people) no windows… to live through it must have been something I can't even imagine. We saw rooms used for Chinese water torture, to force innocent men to sign 'confession' papers, although they never did what they were being accused of, interrogation rooms, solitary confinement rooms… I didn't know how to feel walking through that place.

I learned how people died, how women were raped, how kids as young as 13 were  captured and treated as adults just for the clothes they wore or the music they listened to… and this was all only 30 years ago. The holocaust was a terrible and unimaginable thing, but this was too. And I knew nothing about it.

So I cried a lot. And I felt hopeless a lot. And I felt spoiled and I felt lucky and I felt like an idiot, all at the same time. I know nothing about how it feels to have WAR all around me. I know nothing about my church being bombed, or my father being thrown in prison for something he didn't do, or my mother not being able to talk to her mother because she happened to live on the other side of the wall.

But, obviously, the wall came down. And obviously, the turmoil is over. I didn't even get to see a piece of the wall in tact because it was all bulldozed over within 1 year. When they said unity, they REALLY meant it.

I feel almost the same as I did when I came home from Africa, after learning about the Apartheid… How could this have happened in my lifetime?!?!?!?!??!  I thought humanity was past that… but in other countries, terrible things happen that I've never even had the capacity to think of. It makes me feel lucky, but it also makes me feel like I have to be a citizen of the world and NOT just America… I can't be ignorant to the struggles of other countries, just because I live in a different one. I need to be educated on history as to not repeat it in the future. That might have been the cheesiest thing i've ever typed. ANYWAY.

And that is what I learned at the Stasi prison. It was a good and emotional morning.

NEXT we went to another Opera!! We saw 'Orlando' by Handel. AND before you read this - keep an open mind… It was a bit different than anything I've EVER seen. But I also somehow loved it. The set, script, and cast were all 'modernized'. No period costumes, no antique sets, it even included a silver bullet camper. BUT! what surprised us all, was the cast…

The lead, 'Orlando', who is usually a male, was played by a female. And his (her) love interest, Angelica, who is usually a woman, was also a woman. And Angelica's love interest, who is usually a male… was played by a woman. And her love interest was Orlando, who is usually a male, but was played by a female. And the maid was a bald man in a purple dress who never sang a note.

confused yet? Yes. I was too. Every character was played by the opposite gender, except the Magician & Angelica. There were lesbians everywhere. And everyone was in love with everyone, singing melismas like their lives depended on it. Because their lives DID depend on it… everyone was also dying. It was ridiculous. I hated it for the first 20 minutes, and then I loved it. Complete and utter chaos, which only proved my theory that OPERA IS NOT BORING. I also loved a few of the arias, So i'm on a mission to find the score in German and not in Italian.

I slept like a baby after that. Cause the next day we were headed to see some Castles!

We took a train to see 'Sanssouci' which means 'without a care'. It was the summer home for Frederich the Great, who lived in Potsdam. I'd try to explain this place, but you'd really just have to see it for yourself. Every building is breathtaking. And besides the miles (no, really) we had to walk to get from palace to palace, It did make me wish I were suddenly royal like in the Princess Diaries. I took a billion pictures, so go comment on them on face book RIGHT NOW.

That night we ate dinner on the Turkish side of town, where I may have eaten my favorite meal yet. The streets of Berlin were full of music and dancing and interesting smells and silly drunk people (TOOOOOM) and I even saw a few prostitutes. Besides those last 2, I loved it. If I wasn't so tired, I would have wanted to wander forever.

The last morning, (gees this blog is getting so long) We went to the Jewish History Museum. I learned all about the history of Jews in Germany, found out that the hairdryer was invented by a jew so I thanked him for that, read all about Anne Frank, walked for 20 minutes to find a bathroom in the place, laughed at decorated yamakas (I may have spelled that wrong), cried a little more when I realized the heaviness of what I was learning about, and then headed back to the Hauptbanhof to catch a train back to Dresden. I was very very very sad to leave.

My last bit of the Berlin trip was probably the most memorable.

Remember that suitcase I told you about? Well. Big mistake. My new Troy friends and I are always obsessed with getting our own 'compartment' on the train so we can feel like were headed to Hogwarts. So as were frantically running to our platform, we see a huge crowd of people getting on with us, and its our new priority to even catch the train at all! I'm pushing through people speaking 245245234 different languages with my hot pink suitcase, pretty much losing the rest of the group, when I'm finally on and the train starts moving. But I'm in the hallway. shoulder to shoulder with strangers. With my diet coke (the one time in Europe I got ice AND a refill and I couldn't even drink it I was so distraught) I couldn't move. No one could. Everyone was yelling, I had a suitcase, and I had no idea how I was going to not throw up from claustrophobia. Luckily my troy friends were right near me so we calmed down a little bit, but no one else did.

Turns out, Everyone (somehow) thought all the compartments were reserved, (NO) when really there was plenty of room at the front of the train and we'd all just gotten on at the back.(sort-of. European trains don't really make sense) So slowly, the line starts moving, until we meet another line moving the OTHER direction… they thought all the seats in the front of the train were reserved too! A few Swedish guys yelled at me until they realized I'm not actually an idiot, I just DON'T SPEAK SWEDISH. I finally got rid of my diet coke (cokelight) and picked my suitcase (sort of) over my head and pushed through to the other side of the car, through were the cars were connected, and into another line. I was so frustrated and no one was moving and everyone was leaving their luggage in the hallway so I couldn't get by and we still had no where to sit after half an hour. My friend Lorilyn and I were just dumbfounded… I don't think I've ever seen total confusion like that before. Finally, after dragging my suitcase over everyone's toes, trying to apologize in German before my anger got the best of me and finally just yelling MOVE in English, we got to a seat. Which was reserved. But we sat down anyway. I felt so American in that moment, and I hated it. I feel right to sleep in the Harry Potter compartment after all the stress.

So that was Berlin! See why I was so tired? I slept late the next day (Sunday) and just took it easy so my feet didn't fall off, but the next day, (Monday) me & my Troy friends took a totally different adventure:) I'll tell you about it later!


No comments:

Post a Comment