Berlin Day 4 - Mon 27
Today Johanna and I went downtown Berlin to do a bit of sightseeing. We went to the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate), which was really impressive up close, and then wandered down to have some lunch by the river.
We sat outside, as patios are pretty much a necessity in Berlin. I think it's great--EVERYONE is always eating and drinking outside! So nice. You know in Toronto, most places have tiny little patios, or it's an extreme luxury and they're so packed on nice days that you can't get a table. Not in Berlin, since so many places have them. I don't think I ate inside once this entire weekend.
I got my first lopsided sunburn (of many this trip, I'm sure). My right side was in the sun, and my left wasn't. I also have a pretty sweet hair-tan-line, because my hair was down on my back. Sexy.
After an extremely awkward attempt at a pick-up by the table of three Israeli guys beside us (the attempt wasn't awkward, it was sitting there in silence after we said no haha), Johanna and I took an hour-long river cruise, which basically takes you through Berlin and you can see a lot of the sights. We opted for a german-speaking tour, as those boats were much less crowded, generally cheaper, and I can understand enough German for it to be worth it.
It was so relaxing--it was a hot day, but there was a cool breeze coming off the river so it felt perfect. It actually reminded me a lot of that steamboat you can take in Muskoka (Mom, you know the one I'm talking about, we did it last year). I was absolutely floored by some of the architecture we saw. Berlin has to be up there as one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. The Reichstag, where the government sits, is a Greco-Roman masterpiece. You feel extremely insignificant standing next to it. From then on, I just saw museum after museum, theaters, and the like, all so painstakingly beautiful it was almost too much. Is this place for real? You can actually live here and see this everyday?
Museum Island had about 16 of these types of buildings all together that we sailed past--their foundations went right in the water! I haven't been to Venice yet, but I imagine it's similar to this, and I will love it just as much. Dead rats floating in the river included. (Saw this as we were leaving the dock)
Even the inhabitable buildings are amazing--most are mid-rise, 6 or 7 floors, but the attention to detail on the exteriors is just astounding. I've put some pictures in my flickr account to show you--I tried not to take so many because I know this is probably exciting to all of 3 people including myself, but it was a highlight of my trip. I have to live somewhere that I look at and see beauty, and so many of these places did that for me in Berlin. (London too, but those places are fewer and farther between--not to mention they probably cost an arm and a leg)
After the river cruise, Johanna (who was amazing and took pictures on the boat for me the entire time, so I could be in some of my own photos, but also so that I could experience everything firsthand and not through a camera lens) and I walked through Berlin, saw some more pieces of the original Wall--you could get your passport stamped, but I didn't bring it with me--and read about some of the events surrounding its erection and dismantling. I can't imagine what it must've been like to wake up one day and be told you can't drive to work because it's on the wrong side of the city, and then be shot if you try to go anyway. And this only changed AFTER I was born! Crazy to think about.
We walked by Checkpoint Charlie, where you could get your passport stamped again, did the necessary tourist photos, and continued home. The square where the theater, museum, and one of the universities in Berlin meet was really beautiful. I couldn't believe people get to go to school in a building like that! So lucky! I would never skip class! (Not that I ever did*, Mom and Dad...)
Johanna went to her friend's place for dinner, and I decided to check out a dance class. I watch a lot of dance videos that teachers and choreographers post of their classes on Youtube, and I had heard of this one guy who happened to teach in Berlin. Unfortunately, he was away this week, so another girl was substituting. I wasn't sure what the level of dance would be outside North America, where most of the commercial jobs are, but there were some beasts in this class. We did a combo to Rihanna's Skin...and slow hip hop is not my forte, but it felt really good to push myself, and just be back in class period. I haven't sweat so much since...well probably when I got lost on Friday, but other than that, it's been a while. I'll definitely continue this trend of a class per country I visit. Next stop is Vienna, maybe I will learn how to do the Viennese Waltz!
*does not include 8:30am lectures