Bye, Berlin — I’ll Be Back.

We said our final farewells in the Berliner Fernsehturm just two days ago — feels like longer.  It was a great dinner, but there was a somber atmosphere as it was our last night together.  I was a little nervous at first about eating in a revolving restaurant, but the views from the top were incredible! The sunset was especially breathtaking.  I wish I had brought my camera.  We could see not only how far we had traveled over the last two weeks, but also all we had not with such little time.  I know someday I’ll be back to do more exploring.  I’m glad I had to keep this blog; now I can always look back on the memories and friends I made.

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Ignore the annoying exit sign in the reflection

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Prost!

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My meal was delicious.  I ordered beetroot gnocchi with goat cheese and chard.  The whole dinner lasted three hours.  It was a perfect way to end the trip.  That was the last time all 20 of us will be together in one place again.

The next morning, I couldn’t stop saying how sad and weird it was.  We all got to know each other so quickly and had to say goodbye just the same.  To my Berlin friends, I will miss you.  They say study abroad changes you: It happened to me after four months in London and it happened to me after two weeks in Berlin.  Your perspectives on life, love and the world change.  Traveling teaches you to appreciate the little moments and how fortunate you are.  Many will never have the chance to see the things you’ve seen.  Cheers and carpe diem.  Tschüß!

Final Days Abroad

Yesterday I went to see Luca Bogoni, an Italian graphic designer and illustrator well known for his illustrations for Moleskine.  I chose him as the subject for my final project, which I will post once my professor has approved and finalized it.  I was so excited when he emailed me back and was interested in my project.  Bogoni and I chatted about his work and life, while I took pictures of him and his studio.  It was an honor to meet such a great artist — he was very candid, always willing to answer my questions.

Luca Bogoni

Luca Bogoni

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Afterwards, I met up with the group to go to der Reichstag. The juxtaposition of the building was just incredible: the traditional, stone facade compared to the modern, glass interior.  The views from the top were great as well; we could see the western and eastern most parts of the city.  We’ll be seeing that again tonight from the TV tower, except at dark.

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Exterior von dem Reichstag

 

Inside der Reichstag

Glass dome on the roof von dem Reichstag

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I can’t believe I leave tomorrow.  Berlin is a wonderful city with, as I said once before, so much history and diversity.  I’m excited to go home to see my family, fiance and friends.  I’ve made some great friends here though, most of whom I probably won’t see again.  Bittersweet.  It’ll be back to the real world with thesis defending and job hunting.  It’s been a wonderful end-of-grad-school trip.

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Churches, Cruise & Celebrations

Yesterday a friend and I went to the KaDeWe to explore the chic mall and surrounding area.  On the way, we saw the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche.  The church has many names: The Germans call it “der Hohle Zahn,” meaning “The Hollow Tooth” — because it  was bombed in 1943 — while it’s also called “Lippenstift und Puderdose” (the lipstick and the powder box).

Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche

Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche

The KaDeWe was so overwhelming.  I wish we had more time to really see all the floors, especially the sixth with the fine dining.  Hopefully I can get back there before I leave as well as the zoo.

Kaufhaus des Westens

Kaufhaus des Westens

Saturday night was the group’s optional boat cruise.  Most of us signed up, and it was definitely worth it.  I got the best seat on the boat — by the window — so I was able to take pictures throughout the ride.

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Kali, me, Kamran and Catie

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das Schiff

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Yesterday some friends and I went to the Flohmarkt am Mauerpark again.  This time, I bought a dreamcatcher, scarf and coasters — more souvenirs! Later in the day we went to the Carnival of Cultures parade and street fest.  It was one of the craziest things I’ve ever experienced (there seems to be a lot of that lately).  There were lots of booze, broken bottles, people and smoke.  It was fun watching the parade and seeing all the different nationalities of people in Germany.

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Mooning Man (although I missed a shot of his butt)

Mooning Man (although I missed a shot of his butt)

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Gettin’ Wild in Berlin

Hallo! We’ ve had a lot of free time in the past couple of days to explore Berlin on our own and work on our project, which is to find a local to follow around for a day and interview.  On Thursday, our group went to see THE WYLD at the Friedrichstadt-Palast.  There is no other word to describe the performance other than wild.  Although it’s been compared to Cirque du Soleil, I don’t think I would see anything like it in the U.S.

THE WYLD

THE WYLD

THE WYLD

THE WYLD

Sunday I hung around Alexanderplatz to enjoy people watching, the sights and the sunshine.

St. Marienkirche und Berliner Fernsehturm

Stark contrast between St. Marienkirche und Berliner Fernsehturm

I made a friend named Hafiz who bought me coffee as we chatted until he had to go to work.  I also talked to a 22-year-old Polish economics student named Katarzyna who was blowing bubbles for hours, bringing smiles to kids and adults alike.  Everyone is so friendly.

Katarzyna Labus

Katarzyna

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Alexanderplatz is a hub of so many interesting people who all have a story.  It’s awesome this area is only a short tram ride away.  Many of these characters are trying to get by, while others just want to share their talents with the world.  Berlin is a special place, a melting pot, where anything seems to go.  I’m going to miss this city with its history, culture and heterogeneity.

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Here is the link to our TA’s blog for a group picture and to keep track of all the other amazing things we’ve seen.

Roaming, Rouladen & Rounds

I can’t believe it’s been a week since I left New York to come to Berlin.  The days have been long, but fulfilling.  Crazy how quickly you can grow close to people in such a short amount of time.  It’s sad I keep having to remind myself and these new friends that my time in Gainesville has pretty much come to an end.  As of August, I will be graduating and who knows when, or if, I will be back.  Our group has its own cliques, but everyone gets along and seems to enjoy each other’s company — that’s all that matters.

As with any journey, who you travel with can be more important than your destination.

Monday evening we went to Christoph Niemann‘s studio to hear him talk about his work.  I’m typically not a fan of abstract, but hearing him talk about his process and sources of inspiration was fascinating.  He was so passionate about art and always evolving.

Christoph Niemann

Christoph Niemann

Christoph Niemann and group

Christoph Niemann and group

That night, a few of us went to the absinthe bar.  After my horrible experience in London, you think I would have remembered I don’t like it? Oops.  The bartender lit a piece of sugar on fire and when it was almost melted, dumped it into the absinthe along with a shot of water.  Intense — but nasty.

Absinthe adventures

Absinthe adventures

Berlin Besties

Berlin besties

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Berlin Besties Zwei

Yesterday we visited with John MacDougall, a photographer from AFP.  He photographs everything in Berlin from cultural events to sports, fashion and politics.  The collection he showed us in his apartment was amazing.  I could definitely learn a lot from him.  After we finally went in den Berliner Dom.  Awesome views of the city and TV tower from the viewing deck.

der Berliner Dom

der Berliner Dom

TV Tower

TV Tower

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The next stop was an adventure to the Müggelsee to explore this far-east area of Berlin and get some good German food…the Rouladen wasn’t as good as my mom’s though.  I hope to see the western parts of Berlin within the next couple of days.

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A Day of History & Remembrance

Yesterday was quite the day for our UF in Berlin group as it was jampacked with sights to see and cultural events.  For a few hours, we went on a walking tour of the city with our guide, Jonathan.  We visited die Museuminsel mit dem Berliner Dom, the oldest church in Berlin — although we will be going inside another day.  It was amazing learning even more history of the city simply through the architecture of this area and seeing the contrast between the cathedral and the TV tower.

Der Berliner Dom und der Berliner Fernsehturm

Der Berliner Dom und der Berliner Fernsehturm

Pope's Revenge (cross from the Berlin dome shines on the tower)

Pope’s Revenge (cross from the Berlin dome shines on the tower)

Das Brandenburger Tor reminded me a lot of the Champs-Elysées in Paris — and it was supposed to.  There was a lot going on in the Pariser Platz with a meditation group and anti-homophobia and -transphobia celebration.

Das Brandenburger Tor

Das Brandenburger Tor

Meditation group in Parisien Platz

Meditation in Pariser Platz

International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia celebration in Pariser Platz

International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia celebration in Pariser Platz

We also saw many memorials today: Die Neue Wache, The National Memorial to the Victims of War and Tyranny, where the sculpture Mother with her Dead Son can be seen suffering in all kinds of weather under the oculus; Versunkene Bibliothek (Sunken Library) am Bebelplatz, an underground library with empty shelves, which is a tribute to the more than 20,000 books that were burned in the plaza in 1933; and lastly, the abstract Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe with 2,711 concrete slabs.

Die Neue Wache

Die Neue Wache

“Versunkene Bibliothek” by Mischa Ullmannim im Bebelplatz

Versunkene Bibliothek by Mischa Ullmannim im Bebelplatz

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

After the tour we went to the Flohmarkt am Mauerpark where  I bought a jacket and magnet.  I look forward to going back next week for more souvenirs.  There was also karaoke going on with hundreds of listeners.

Mauerpark Karaoke

Mauerpark Karaoke

Quite an overwhelming, but unbelievable day.  Can’t wait to take in more of the city this week.  Tschüß!

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Je suis Charlie.

Je suis Charlie

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