Friday, July 29, 2005

Europe 2005 - Germany

Crossing over the border we had our international drivers license checked for the first time. Up until now everyone has just cared about our insurance which is always called the "green card".
Berlin- we failed to find the campsites in our book so we headed to the tourist center and they booked us a room at the biggest hostel we have been to yet. (866 beds. We were lucky as it rained again and we would have got soaked.) This city is huge. Apparently both east and west to show up the other side for how well they could rebuild. Now that the 2 cities have been joined together it just sprawls on forever with stuff to see all spread out which is different from most cities that all the cool stuff was built when people had to walk everywhere.
TV tower- East Berlin built this huge TV tower to show how the communist's technology towered over any of the cities religious towers. ( there is a mirrored ball in the middle that reflects the sun in the shape of a cross which is called "the Pope's revenge") it the tallest of the TV towers that we have seen (which in itself is weird since I'm used to mountains being there for that purpose.)
Berlin wall- we walked along the remaining part of the wall. They invited artists to paint sections and now its called the east side gallery. The guide book says that it is supposed to be in a seedy neighborhood but all we saw was a bunch of construction. We walked headed for checkpoint Charlie so we kept crossing over where the wall used to be. It s really hard to tell where the wall used to be. (the easiest way is that in east Berlin they have left the cross-walk flashing men from communist times and they look like happy little workers.) In some spots there are long narrow parks that give where the wall used to be away. Where there are roads where they have laid a brick stripe to let people know but there are so many building you would never know otherwise.
Jewish museum- we have been to the holocaust museum in Washington DC so we were curious to compare them. In DC they present everything and to the point of overwhelming. Here in Berlin they start by modern architecture to set the mood. All the walls and floors are about a degree off of 90 so it puts you on edge. Then they explain the history of Jews in Germany starting as far back as possible. They work their way up covering the holocaust as another chapter then continue on to current traditions.
Check-point Charlie-
Before we left the Tivo recorded an old Mission Impossible were they traded spies at this point so I got to see how it looked in the 60's. It is very different now, looking like any other road except the guard shack in the middle of road and the sign that said "you are now leaving the American sector".
Check-point Charlie museum-
This is a museum that started in 1963 to document all the escapes from USSR. People hide in gas tanks, welding machines, dug tunnels, hang gliders, and balloons. (they were playing one of my favorite movies as a kid "A wind from the west".) the last escape they documented was in 1988 only a year before the wall came down.
Europa Center- They have a bombed out church here too as a symbol to not get into war again. Its just weird to be driving along then pass a church that is missing huge parts of it all blown out and it is surrounded by a bunch of shiny metal buildings.

German- growing up I always thought that English was more similar to the romantic languages but I think this was just being surrounded by Spanish. Here we have found we are able to recognize or guess more written words then we would have thought.

Driving-Its really funny with so many BMWs and Mercedes on the road everyone thinks they are a drag racer. Its hard to explain, the cars will race but all within the law. Racing from light to light but never over the speed limit.
the autobahn... hehehehehehe. I was getting passed like I was standing still at 180 kph on the autobahn but when there is a speed limit everyone slows down. (yes there are speed limits on the autobahn, its only when you are out of the cities that there is not a speed limit on the freeways.) I just wait for all the other cars to start racing then speed up. I’m glad our little car can keep up. The fastest I hit was 200 kph. The car topped out. I have never driven a car and had it floored knowing that I just could not get it to go faster. We could not figure out how to get the car computer out of "economy mode". We made great time crossing Germany (big country in half a day). It was at the expense of gas. This was the first time we had to gas up twice in a day. But all the autobahn is FREE, no vignettes and no tolls (gas is more expensive).

Skin Heads- We saw 2 types while there. There were the ones with the shaved heads and black bomber jackets. They looked silly because they just had sweat pouring down their heads and their foreheads were all sunburned bright red. Not the vision of fear I think they were trying to portray. The others were the type that just wear the cheeky shorts and vests. They also looked silly just because they looked more like they belonged in a strip club for how little they were wearing. We both had to stifle laughs until we were out of range. I don't think to many people were taking them to seriously.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Nice story, it is alway interesting reading someone else's experience about the country I come from. It is right, that English and German are pretty similar, I think the same will happen to you in Spain (but not in France).

I was laughing about your experience on the autobahn. It is really funny driving so fast, but I don't think German's always obey to the speed limit. My experience is, that the American's obey more, because it is so much more expensive to speed in the US than in Germany.

Looks like you had a good time in Berlin. I was also there a few years ago, and I also liked Checkpoint Charly with all the creative ways how people tried to escape to the West.