Hello fellow babies! Big things have happened for the Frease clan! As the majority of my readers are our close friends and family you are probably aware of the fact that we moved… countries. If you aren’t aware… surprise! I am currently writing from Quakenbrück, Germany and I could not be happier about it; we have come to think of this country as our second home. Look how German this Penguin is and look how much I love him…
***PSA: I am sure Turkey is a wonderful country, it was simply not a good fit for us***
Many, many, many things have happened since my last blog post and it is my sincerest wish to blog them all at a later date. A few of the highlights include: my parents’ visit, our incredible trip to Rome, the move from Turkey, Kenny’s parents’ visit, and a smattering of lovely weekend getaway trips with my darling husband. I wanted to post a few “highlight photos” because they were all so much fun.
Each one was an adventure that I plan on boring you all with eventually;)
But for now: BERLIN. Last weekend Kenny and I had wonderful weekend visit to Berlin. I have always wanted to visit this historical city. Ken and I hopped on a train Saturday morning and our adventure began. I mean, what’s an adventure without a few Weißbiere?
After a few beers (2), a few hours (3) and a few ridiculous card game annihilations (I’m awful) we were there. We only had a short time in the city so we decided to do a bike tour to see as much as we could. Fantastic decision: it was awesome and I highly recommend Fat Tire Bike Tours. We had a few hours to kill before the tour and it was a gorgeous day so naturally, we stopped for a beer along the water.
After our mid afternoon beer we headed for the tour. We got our bikes, listened to a quick historical introductory of Berlin and we were off. We rode around the city, saw all the major historical sites and took some excellent photos if I do say so myself;)
First stop: Neptune Fountain
Next stop: Bebelplatz
Here we have one of Humboldt University’s buildings. Albert Einstein and Karl Marx attended this university. Kenny was shocked…
This building shares a courtyard, called the Bebelplatz, with the State Opera building. The Bebelplatz is the site of one of the infamous Nazi book burning ceremonies where they set 20,000 books aflame in order to “purify” the German language and literature. There is an underground memorial in its place consisting of empty shelves with room enough for the 20,000 books.
Students of Humboldt hold a book sale each year in the square, selling the books that were burned in remembrance.
Next stop: the Gendarmenmarkt. The Gendarmenmarkt is home to the Berlin Concert House and both the French and German Cathedrals. The building in the left side of the photo is the German Cathedral. Immediately across from it (not shown) is the nearly identical French Cathedral. The French built their church first, then the Germans built theirs in order to “top” the French, as their near twin church is a meter taller… real mature, guys. Here is Kenny looking ecstatic in front of the French Cathedral…
Here is a giant bubble because it’s fantastic.
Next stop: Checkpoint Charlie
What I was most looking forward to on this tour was hearing about the Berlin Wall. What better starting point than Checkpoint Charlie? Located on the Wall, this was the last controlled stop on the route to East Berlin. The city recreated it for touristic purposes. After a brief run through its history from our tour guide I popped over for a picture. With the Checkpoint being one of Berlin’s primary tourist attractions, naturally it was flooded with people. My lack of patience for such things resulted in a picture with a random dude posing.
Admittedly, the McDonald’s and the general modernization of the area took away a bit of the “feeling.” It’s difficult to place yourself back in time when the “Golden Arches” are staring you in the face, though the information was still quite interesting. Also surrounding Checkpoint Charlie were a few various museums and kiosks selling Cold War paraphernalia such as these…
Next stop: The Berlin Wall
The stories you hear of the Wall are unimaginable, thus, seeing it in person was a surreal experience. Nowadays though, the Wall is a rather unimposing structure: a shadow of its former self. The countless different and creative ways that people came up with out of desperation to get across are unbelievable.
This memorial, also known as the Holocaust Memorial, consists of 2,711 concrete slabs of varying heights and holds the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims underground. Although it has faced much controversy over the years the design really is tremendous. Walking into the concrete labyrinth was a unique experience. There were dozens of people walking around the memorial but the gradual descent into the varying heights of stelae really gave off a feeling of total solitude. Not to mention it made for excellent lighting… Next stop: Victory Column
This massive symbol of victory was first erected by the Prussian army; then the entire structure was relocated nearly 100 years later in accordance to Hitler’s infamous redesign of Berlin and currently stands along the massive East-West Axis (due to Hitler’s plans for it to be the “center of the empire.”)
After a brief history of the structure we biked a few kilometers through some parks to an excellent little Biergarten alongside the water. I took zero pictures of the biergarten. Partly because it was pouring down rain, but mainly because beer is good and I wanted to drink it. After our beers, we took another pleasant ride through the parks. This is when I nearly fell off my bike because I saw a baby bunny drinking water. I really don’t like to throw around the word “hero” or anything, but I did, in fact, remain on my bike.
Next stop: Reichstag
Pretty much your average European government building: old and beautiful. This establishment of parliament has, “Dem Duetschen Volke” inscribed overtop the pillars, meaning, “To the German people.” Next stop: Brandenburg Gate
This is a rather impressive gate. Very important events have taken place here, such as: Napoleon’s march into Berlin, the division of the city during the Cold War, President Reagan’s famous speech to Soviet Secretary Gorbachev, and lets not forget when Michael Jackson dangled his baby, Blanket, off a balcony less than half a block away.
Last stop: Museum Island
Currently the amount of construction the city of Berlin has going on right now exceeds that of every city in Europe. Everywhere you look there are cranes and orange cones. One of the major projects is the reconstruction of the City Palace; an undertaking that is costing the country $500 million. Museum Island is home to five of the city’s most famous museums. As this was a short visit we will have to go back to explore them!
After the tour we had dinner at this awesome little spot called “The Pub” where Kenny dramatically swore he had just eaten the best burger he has ever had in the history of his existence. He was flabbergasted. The pub had beer taps in the tables and was a grand old time. We had a beer, Kenny mourned the loss of his burger, and headed back to catch our train in the morning.
Before we left, I really wanted to walk around Kreuzberg. So, Teddy and I woke up early and took a stroll around. The street art was incredible.
A whirlwind weekend at its finest; Berlin definitely requires a revisit! Also, as many of you can guess, Kenny’s expressions in the pictures are a result of his disdain for my ceaseless “SMILE” requests. In actuality, he (and I) had an excellent time biking around the city and we are both looking forward to our next adventure. Which, by the looks of it, could be HOME!