part 2: berlin

IMG_1644Outside Tacheles

 

Germany was the first stop on our two week excursion and honestly, we couldn’t have stayed in a better city. I loved every moment of it. Basically all of our time in Berlin was spent walking all over the city while we checked out different historical sites. We didn’t have a chance to look up some of these sites and buildings until we were either back at our hotel room or actually back home after the trip. One of my favorite buildings we passed on that first day was covered in graffiti and posters and honestly just caught my eye and I couldn’t stop staring. On the side of it, in giant letters, it simply said:

HOW LONG IS NOW

It wasn’t exactly posed as a question but didn’t necessarily seem like an existential sigh either. Once we were home a few of us looked it up and it it is called the Tacheles building. Apparently it used to be a large shopping complex and then switched hands pretty rapidly for a few years. The Nazis used it as a central office for the SS and was abandoned after the war. Now it is covered in graffiti and while it is still in ruins and locked up, it is a pretty awesome building to check out. My only wish is that we were able to look at the inside of it too.

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HOW LONG IS NOW

The longer we were in Berlin, the more in love with it I became. Almost unnerving at first, the quiet even in the streets was a welcome change. This was a city that had so much activity happening around us, and yet the sound of life wasn’t overwhelming like cities like New York and even Indianapolis can be. Instead there is a hum of activity constantly around you, something that pulls you outside and makes you want to explore. Even though our first day was mainly spent just walking a solid 10 miles on what seemed like the the same two roads back and forth, it was a pretty neat experience.

I could really use recommendations on what to do the next time I travel to Berlin though because we were only there for three full days and there is more to the city than what we were able to see.

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Transportation:

One thing that I absolutely loved in Berlin was the public transportation. We took just about every time of public transit while we were there: trams, the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, buses, and taxis. Even with the obvious language barrier because only a few of us knew enough German to be dangerous we all had no problem getting around during our afternoons and evenings that we had free to go off on our own (except actually in small groups because no one travels alone).

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There was only one incident where a friend and I got on the wrong tram and ended up going about twenty minutes in the opposite direction of our intended destination. At the stop we ended up getting off at we saw this store front that just had “Who Killed Bambi?” written on it. In our slightly anxious state (because we had no idea where we were) it seemed almost ominous. We got in the first taxi we saw and drove away. It wasn’t until we got back to the hotel lobby that we realized that the “Who Killed Bambi?” storefront wasn’t graffiti but instead was an actual clothing store. Other than the moment we realized we may have gotten into a vehicle that we weren’t sure if it was an actual taxi or not (spoiler, it really was a taxi) the time we spent on Berlin’s trains, trams and other transportation vehicles was seamless. We were grateful for that because traveling with a group of 16 isn’t always the easiest to manipulate.

new adventures

An introduction (?):

A few weeks late, but the first month of this summer I flew over 16,000 miles on two trips that took me to five countries and six states of the United States.

I had the opportunity to start traveling the world and in it-in a word-left me speechless. When we were staying in Berlin I was online and came across this:

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” ~ Ibn Battuta

I had written it down and forgot about it until we were staying in a convent in France and I was flipping back through that notebook. The whole time we were on this trip I had the feeling that somehow I finally had something to say and there was an urgency in being able to put words to paper. Staying in that convent was almost unreal, like time stopped and somehow being disconnected from everything else made other parts of life make sense. The bells from the church tower would ring out every hour but it never felt like time was passing. Instead, the bells were just reminding us that we are alive and with that, reminded us that we needed to act like it. Like a heartbeat, like a predictable reminder. In a way I think all of us on the trip needed the reminder.

Before I ramble more about being alive, I should get back to the experience of actually traveling for the first time. Something tells me that this blog is probably going to turn into a place for me to share stories from those three weeks until I feel that there are no more words to use to bring them to life.

From the beginning:

When we boarded that first plane-the one that would take us across the Atlantic ocean-I was terrified. It was only the second flight I had ever been and knowing that air travel is more safe than road travel was only a tiny consolation. When we finally landed in Dusseldorf, it was difficult to not be the anxiety-ridden, ground kisser as I stepped off the plane. We had a (very warm) layover before our flight to Berlin and it was amazing to know as we sat on the floor of the airport that that was the farthest away from home I had ever been. After flying through the air for basically nine hours and using a plane bathroom for the first time, I was relieved, excited, and so ready to be in Berlin and officially start this crazy new part of my life.

“He who travels has stories to tell.” Gaelic proverb

There are many more stories to be told about these weeks of my life. I know that there was more to be said in this post, but sometimes good things come to those who wait. And you, you stranger on the internet, have some stories to be told if you hang around a little while longer. I have traveled. I have come a long way to be here. I am a work in progress and I have stories to be told.