Last Thursday, When We Were Berlin-Bound

It’s hard to believe this wall ever divided Berlin. So sad.

Hey friends! So it’s Monday, October 8th, which can only mean one thing–Chris and I are back from Europe.

Cue the violins.

Seriously though, this was one stellar, awesome, amazing trip. In what amounts to 9 full days, we managed to cover Berlin (where Chris ran a marathon), Munich (where we had so much fun at Oktoberfest!), rent a car and drive from Munich to Salzburg to Venice for more than $700 (that story will come later), see Venice in less than 24 full hours and hit up Rome for all the classics.

That’s a lot.

But despite the fact that it was a whirlwind…it really didn’t feel that way. I felt like we were able to spend a good amount of time in each place, and I actually did end up feeling rested and relaxed when we arrived back last night.

So anyway, without further ado, how about I take you on back to last Friday, when Chris and I arrived in Berlin at around 8:30 a.m…

So after an 8-hour, overnight flight (where Chris and I were both privy to ‘back seat hogs’ (You know the type. The ones who refuse to let you put your seat back, even if that means they are forced to use all their leg power for hours at a time to keep you from reclining?), we finally arrived in Berlin, about an hour earlier than expected.

We were staying at the Angleterre Hotel, which, coincidentally, had tried to bump us via email the day before, saying they had overbooked and to make up for it had booked us in another hotel flat across town.

Good thing Chris’s parents were staying at the Angleterre as well, and were already checked in, because that meant we were able to stay at our original hotel, making Chris’s morning route to the marathon on Sunday exactly as he had planned for it to be.

Despite being incredibly tired that first day, we managed to get a whole lot done (as is our way). The Angleterre is walking distance to Checkpoint Charlie (which was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War) and to the site of the Berlin Wall, where a memorial stands today:

Madness indeed.

As I said in an email I wrote to my family on our last night in Berlin, Berlin is such a beautiful, modern city, but the fact that they’ve done such a good job at documenting and preserving the sad, sad history there just makes the whole city seem a bit sad. Still, it’s an amazing place to visit, something I would definitely recommend to anyone who’s even the slightest bit interested in history.

After taking in the wall and Checkpoint Charlie, Chris and his parents headed to the expo for Chris to pick up his race gear while I took a quick power nap. Then, in the afternoon, we hopped on a Berlin bus tour, which took us around to all the sites:

Chris helped make this ad, and we saw it in Berlin!
And this one!

After our bus tour, we were all pretty tired, so we decided to head to the Galeries Lafayette (Chris’s mom suggested this, and I’m so glad she did! I got the most adorable little purse there…), grab dinner and call it a night. We would be having an early morning on Saturday, since Chris has a cousin who lives in Berlin and works at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (seems like a drastic name, to me, but I guess that’s exactly what it is, right?).

We started the morning off by heading to the Brandenburg Gates to meet up with Chris’s cousin and aunt, where they would be bringing us to the memorial.

While there, we happened across a poster for the marathons of the world, where Chris could make his mark on the races he’s already accomplished:

New York. Done.
Boston. Done.
Chicago. Done.
Berlin. Done.
One to go! London 2013!

After the gates, we headed over the memorial. The structures were designed by Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold, and it consists of 19,000 square metres covered with 2,711 concrete slabs arranged in a grid pattern. The slats vary in height, and were designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, or, according to all-knowing Wickipedia, “a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reasoning.”

Writing that gives me chills, because that’s exactly how it feels when walking through it:

Just a bit more info on the memorial itself, according to Wickipedia:

“Building began on April 1, 2003 and was finished on December 15, 2004. It was inaugurated on May 10, 2005, sixty years after the end of World War II, and opened to the public two days later. It is located one block south of the Brandenburg Gate, in the Friedrichstadt neighborhood. The cost of construction was approximately 25 million.”

After the outdoor memorial, there is an underground museum as well, which includes transcribed letters from holocaust victims, a historical timeline of events and plenty more. I was most touched by the large numbers of letters that included the same sentiment: How can it possibly be that these atrocities are happening right now to us, and yet the world continues to go on?

So sad.

After viewing the monument, Chris and I headed back to the hotel for a bit to rest up and try to wrap our heads around what we had just seen. Later, we met up with one of Chris’s old friends from college for a quick beer (well, Felix and I had a beer. Chris was running the marathon the following day, so he didn’t get to drink!), and then headed back to the hotel for a pasta buffet dinner with Chris’s parents before making it an early night before the marathon.

Then…came Sunday! The day of all days! Chris awoke totally geared up and ready to run:

While Chris was busy running, I had the pleasure of spectating with his parents, who would be watching Chris run a marathon for the first time.

Berlin is a great city for spectating, too. (Much better than Boston was, thank you very much.)

First viewing!
So happy watching Chris run 😉
Second viewing!
Final viewing. Not so happy.
Four down!

Typing this, I still can’t believe that we have been talking for so long about heading to Berlin for the marathon … and it’s over! So sad!

Anyway, after the race we headed back to the hotel so Chris could wash up before we met up with his friend Felix again for some drinks down by the water:

Our lovely waiter convinced Cath to drink some Schnopps. I’m not sure she loved it as much as he promised she would…

And that was about it, my friends! Only three quick days in Berlin, and we were headed out on a flight Sunday night over to Munich for Oktoberfest! So tomorrow I’ll be reminiscing about everything that is beautiful Munich (and the fact that Chris and I totally want to move there now).

But until then, bis bald, my friends!

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