Hallo! So it's finally time to hear about Germany. I'm sad to say that at the moment I am packing to leave Berlin, but I don't want to be State-side before I even have one post in about German adventures. Here are some highlights (though stories and accompanying pictures will follow in a few days):
July 4th: We left Hong Kong at 11:30 pm and landed in Berlin at 10 am the next day. We'd been awake all day in Hong Kong, got on our overnight flight, and had to spend the whole day awake in Berlin. Flying to and from Asia is killer, but we adjusted okay after a few days. (Well, I was kind of a wimp, but Chad was good.) That day, we went to Brandenburg gate, and to our surprise they were having a party to celebrate the relocation of the American embassy. It is now right beside the Brandenburg Gate, where it was before the Cold War.
July 5th: We went to the Pergamon Museum to see their exhibit on Babylon - fabulous. Although they had a "Truth" section and a "Myth" section. The "Myth" section was very Berlin-like. I think it was basically a way to compare myths of Babylon to artsy-like movements today. Ie: It was a myth that Babylon was full of whores and orgies, so they took the opportunity to show porn clips. Sigh, I don't know. The "Truth" stuff, with your more typical archaeological finds was way cool, though. They re-created the massive temple with some tiles they'd found and some they'd made to match.
July 6th - 10th: In the mornings, Chad would go to class, I would read or fiddle with pictures, we'd go somewhere nearby for lunch, the afternoons would be more class and more reading, then we'd do something in the evening. This was our typical routine. One evening, we went to a beer garden in the middle of the city's largest park. We sat on a dock and watched people rent canoes. July 7th was also our one-year anniversary. Chad found a restaurant in West Berlin that has fantastic weinerschnitzel and his new favorite beer, King Ludwig's.
July 11th - 14th: Friday evening, we rented a Smart Car drove down to a small town North of Munich and stayed in a castle. It was so cool! We spent the next two days in Nuremberg and Leipzig. Chad's class started Monday evening.
July 15th - 17th: More classes, reading, and picture-fiddling. We went to some more museums, art, history, and such. Berlin has so many fabulous museums. We've been here a month, and there are still some I'd planned to see but haven't.
July 18th - 20th: We stayed in Berlin this weekend to see some of the local sights. We took a tour of the Third Reich sights in Berlin (see two posts previous for details) on Friday. That night, we celebrated the birthday of one of the guys in the program at a local Irish pub. They love Irish pubs. Italy loved Irish pubs too, must be a world-wide phenomenon, or at least Europe-wide. Saturday we took a tour of Sachsenhausen, the concentration camp just outside Berlin. I have detailed notes of that excursion. It was fascinating, creepy, and gruesome melted together. I'll post notes and pictures of the tour later. On Sunday we went to the Alte Nationalgalerie, an enormous art gallery. An entire floor was just German painters.
July 21st: I went with the law program group to the Ministry of Justice to hear how the law works in Germany. It's quite different, in some unexpected ways. Ie: For some cases, they have "lay judges," who are not trained in the law but are professionals of the field in question who serve on the bench with other "lay judges" and "professional judges." So, if the area in question is business-related, a businessman will sit on a judges bench and have all the power and responsibility that a professional judge does.
July 22nd - 24th: Normal classes and reading and such. The evenings of these weeks, though, were fairly eventful. On the 22nd, we went to a soccer game, Berlin vs. Liverpool. Since the World Cup is over, it was a "friendly game." The game ended 0-0, but it was still fun to watch. Apparently, when the games are competitively/un-friendly, the Germans can get quite riotous. Behind our apartment is the Natural History Museum, one of the largest in the world, so we spent the afternoon of the 23rd there and saw the largest dinosaur skeleton in the world. A brontosaurus, btw. On July 24th, we went to see Barack Obama speak at the Victory Column in Berlin. It was packed, an estimated 200,000, and we were maybe 60 feet away. It was pretty darn cool to be there, but I was slightly disappointed in his speech, and I wasn't the only one. He was fine, just not the hugely charismatic speaker the US press has hyped him up to be. Or maybe he was jet-lagged, who knows. I'll post more about this later, including pictures.
July 25th - 28th: We rented something better than a Smart Car because we wanted to break 100 mph. We got up to about 120 in this car as we headed down by Frankfurt. We spent a night in Mainz (saw the Gutenberg museum, toured a zext/champagne winery, and Chad had the best meal of his life and a liter stein of dark beer), a night in Worms (saw where Luther started the Protestant Reformation, not much else to see there), and a night near a small town where the Grimm brothers grew up (saw their childhood home and roamed the nearby woods). Very fun weekend, and we loved Mainz, definitely going back there someday.
July 29th: We're headed to Hamburg. Our train leaves in an hour. We'll hopefully meet up with Louisa, Curtis' girlfriend and long-time family friend. She's from Germany, and it's been a few years since Chad's seen her, so it should be good fun. Hopefully all trains run on-time because...
July 30th: We leave Hamburg at 9am, get back just before 11 am, and my international flight leaves Berlin at 3pm. I'm a little worried because 52,000 of Lufthansa's employees are striking right now. The biggest strike is in Frankfurt, and I connect in Frankfurt and fly Lufthansa all the way back to Boston. Assuming all trains and planes go well, I will present some research I've done in the sociology of religion in Boston on Thursday. Yikes, very busy, and I have to prep this talk. Well, the time in Germany has been fantastic, and we're already planning how to get back here. More posts and photos soon to come.