I will try to keep this short and sweet, but somehow it is next to impossible with all I have been up to in the past week. I went on a Tour of Germany, a Deutschlandreise, for 6 days and have had the time of my life. I spoke to my mother today for over an hour and only gave her the highlights and writing in my diary today took 25 pages. I was very happy to get out of East Frisa and see hills and trees... with colors! I even got to climb a mountain this week. I've done so much walking that I'm feeling quite in shape! I'm sorry if my spelling and grammar are going down the drain, but it's an unfortunate side effect of learning another language.
The first day we traveled to Eisenach, the location where Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, basically unifying and inventing high German. Then I saw a 400 year old Ostrich Egg and the actual bible he wrote! I found it interesting that he used a whale vertebrae for his footstool (we got to see his study). He wrote this in a castle called the Wartburg (Wait Mountain) which also the same place were Saint Elizabeth, the patron of the poor (I'm not positive what... it was in a strong German accent) lived. Then we went to an Irish pub and I found that I liked dark beers... no wonder I didn't like the beer in Germany... it's mostly light! Also, earlier that day we saw a checkpoint at the division of East and West Germany. It was really fascinating seeing the fence and the whole complex.
The second day we rode the bus to Weimer, the historical cultural capital of Germany (and also the capital of the Weimer Republic). I learned a lot about Goethe and Schiller, two really famous playwrights. I even saw the bed that Schiller died in. Then we continued on towards Lübbenau. There we slept in a Youth Hostel that used to be a DDR appartment complex. The town was really creepy DDR soviet architecture, all square identical buildings. Then we found a bowling ally and bar at the top of some building.
The third day we walked in the opposite direction to another town, which I absolutely fell in love with. Can you imagine me saying that? I would love to live in East Germany. At least this one town, because it was like walking into a fairytale. Everything was quaint old german architecture and the people are amazingly down to earth. There are gardens everywhere and people working in them and there are flowers everywhere. Then, we went on a Kahn, a boat similar to the Italian gondola's and traveled through the Spree Forest, while seeing the most beautiful landscape and buildings. After that, we took the bus to an old brown coal mine and had a tour of this huge crane that is almost twice as high as the empire state building. And we walked to the top! 502 meters. Not long after that we took the bus to Berlin. We had the night free and after failing to find a jazz bar and proving to the mexicans and brazilians that the Hard Rock Cafe is to expenisve, we found another Irish pub. It was near this apparently famous bombed out church, the Kaiser Willhem Kirche or something. And all the trees were a million different colors becasue there are flourecent lights in them.
The next day we had the whole day free in Berlin. Diana, and Brian (Columbus, Ohio... he lives only ten minutes away from my Grandma Sandy!), Shelby (Utica, NY), Renada (Washington State), and I went around seeing things. First we walked about East Germany and saw some really interesting things. It wasn't really run down, but it definately had not been remodernized, which we found West Berlin to be... lots of open spaces and modern. I found it interesting. Then we went in an old church, Marienkirsche, and saw some amazing art. After that, we stumbled upon the Berlin Cathedral, which from the outside was breathtaking... until you went into the inside which makes you want to imediately sit and pray because it is so astounding (which is what Diana and I did). After loosing Brian when we went into the Crypts and saw all the family members of the German first Reich, I found him upstairs (in the sanctuary) as the HUGE organ started playing. There was a theater peice that was being played out, which is apparently only played once a year. It gave me goosebumps is was so cool. Then we ran up to the top of the dome and back in a half an hour... a good 80-100 meters. I have no idea what the translation of that is... except, really high. After, we ate lunch and finally got to sit! and then we took the subway to Potsdamer Plazza, which was the closest to the culture plazza, where the Berlin Philharmonic Building is and also an amazing art gallary. On the way, I wore a gas mask that I had bought through the streets of Berlin and the Subway. It was so funny that I think I peed my pants, with the way people reacted. The ticket controller didn't even mad at us because our tickets were wrong! Then, the Gemäldegallarie, this art hall, was so phonominal that I was on cloud nine. I saw Raphael, Carrvaggio, Dürer, Rembrant, and a million others. We only stayed for 2 and a half hours and we got lost in it... and I didn't even see a fraction of the things. And that was only one building out of 5!!!!! I didn't even know until later that my favorite Vermeer painting was in the room next to the Rembrants... which I missed! Later that night I saw the Brandenburg Gate, the big Columned gate with the 4 horses and a rider on top, all lit up with colors... just the way the pictures are that you always see.
The fifth day... we got a guided tour of Berlin. I saw a lot that we missed but didn't understand a word because it was all in Spanish and German... and I was way to tired to concentrate that hard to understand. Plus.. I don't know Spanish. I saw Checkpoint Charly as well. Then we went to the Reichstag, which is their congress hall/parliment building. We got a tour and I thought it was amazing. There is a huge glass ball on the top and we climbed up there and saw the whole city, except this time I knew a little more about what I was seeing. After, I went shopping with Marie (France) and bought christmas presents and a sweatshirt in Potsdamer Platz. From there, we walked through the central park, called the Teirgarten (the Animal Garden) and found a huge 6 lane high way. Then, for some reason we ended up walking down the middle of it, but I was trying to find the perfect spot to take a picture of this monument that was in the middle of the traffic circle in the middle of the city, that is REALLY FAMOUS (because I would not have recognized it otherwise) monument in the middle. Then, when we got closer, I realized the sun was absolutely perfect and I had to run all the way around the traffic circle (carefully, or course) to get a picture, before the sun went down!! That night, Diana, Marie (France), Steve (Texas), Lachy (Australia), and I went to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. There are no words to describe the experience. The building glowed this gold color and the orchestra was so good that it makes the Rochester Philharmonic sound like a high school band. We had red wine druing intermission and then at the last minute or so of the performance, they played the organ, a huge organ. And I cried it was so amazing.
The 6th day was much slower. We rode the bus back home and stoped at the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, the headquarters of VW. It was a really weird version of a automobile Disney World. I was bored and some of us were upset that we spent just as long there as in Weimer. But, we saw the Tibetian Dali Lama's high monks there! It was definately interesting. They all dressed in orange robes.
It was the most amazing week of my life. Like I said, that is the bare bones, skeleton version of everything that happened. I leave for Turkey early tomorrow morning. I am so tired that last night I almost slept in my food. By the time we got to Berlin, it was party, party, party every night. And I have learned that the Brazilians and Mexicans can be very crazy people. I am looking forward to sleeping on the beach and roasting like a coffee bean... long and slow. I've had the time of my life and I can only imagine what the Euro Tour will be like next year, if I can get the money to go. I have made a lot of friends that I hope to stay in contact with the rest of my life and I can honestly say that I LOVE GERMANY now. And, I still need to pack for Turkey and its almost 11 at night now. What lies ahead in the next 9 months... who knows!