The final leg of my Europe 2012 trip took me to Germany, where I met up with my aunt. We started in Frankfurt, the financial capital of the country, took the train to Berlin and stayed there for a few days, visited Potsdam for half a day, spent a day in Dresden and came back to Frankfurt to finish off the journey.
Sure, the photo to the left looks like a random wall located somewhere in Germany.
You would be correct.
But I made sure to snap a quick shot to show how prevalent graffiti is in the country.
Honestly, I was surprised.
There isn’t a bare wall as you pass through the country via train, which was how my aunt and I were able to get from central Germany (Frankfurt) to northeast Germany (Berlin).
Along the way, I had the best pretzel, or “bretzel” as the Germans call it.
It was stuffed with either margarine or butter and toasted.
As I mentioned in previous posts, I hit the trifecta while visiting Europe for the first time.
The final part of this was witnessing the beginning of the 2012 European Cup while in Germany.
Sure, the matches were taking place in Poland and Ukraine, but I got to watch parts of Germany’s first pool match at the Hyundai Fan Park at the Brandenburg Tor.
To the left is a Coca-Cola fan wall.
Naturally, I had no difficulty communicating with people in either England or Ireland.
Germany was a different story.
To the left is a monument constructed to honor soldiers of past wars.
How do I know that?
A German man translated script for us, and told us the entire story. It was a nice hidden gem near museum island and the Berliner Dom.
One of the prettiest buildings in Berlin is the Reichstag, which houses Parliament.
Though I didn’t get to go inside (it is open to the public until 11 p.m.), the exterior is beautiful.
It’s located about a block from the Brandenburg Tor and houses an observatory at the top for a 360 view of the city.
No word on whether Merkel was there when I was.
Unlike the weather in England and Ireland, it was sunny and mild in Berlin.
I was even able to wear shorts one day!
The day of Germany’s first match of Euro Cup, people were sunbathing by the river, while others were having picnics near the Berliner Dom.
Many visited the Victory Column, which commemorates Prussia’s victory in the Danish-Prussian War.
At the top is a golden Victoria.
There’s an observation deck just below where the figure begins.
On Unter den Linden, one of the main roads that can take you from the Brandenburg Tor all the way to Museum Island, one can find various modes of transportation.
Like a mobile bar.
It seems like something you might see in the Carribean, but definitely not in America.
Still not sure who steers it…
Arguably the most iconic structure in Berlin is the Brandenburg Gate (also known as Tor).
It stood next to the Berlin Wall – the American Embassy sits right next to it – and is the lone remaining “entrance gate” to Berlin.
Behind the gate is where the Euro Cup fan park took place. Thousands of people show up to cheer the soccer/football team.
In front is prime tourist photo area.
This is me LoMoing in front of Sans Souci, one of Frederick the Great’s summer palaces located in Potsdam, just outside of Berlin.
Frederick was the King of Prussia, and this was his Versailles.
At the top is the actual palace, and in between are mazes of gardens.
In the area are many other palaces like the Orangerie, as well as a giant windmill.
Museum Island, which begins near the Berliner Dom, consists of five internationally recognized museums that house ancient Greek, Roman, etc. art.
At the largest venue – the Pergamon – stands relics from ancient Greece, like the Temple of Zeus pictured to the left.
There is also the Pergamon Altar and Ishtar Gate of Babylon.
Needless to say it was extremely surreal to see these in person.
It also begs to question how Germany obtained them.
I researched and discovered that Turkey, where the excavations took place, wants them back.
Aside from that, it’s quite the collection.
One of the final things we did in Berlin was visit the site of the 1936 Olympics when Adolf Hitler was in power.
Jesse Owens took track by storm amidst Hitler’s ideological stances.
The stadium was also the site of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in which italy won.
I got chills walking through the buildings and seeing the sights.
Many firsts came from the 1936 Summer Olympics: It was the first to appear on TV. It held the first Olympic torch relay.
Naturally, this was a very political games with Hitler in power.
In the end, with talks of boycott, he allowed blacks and Jews to compete. He put gypsies in camps.
As a history buff, it was truly amazing to visit and visualize everything.
Our last stop was Dresden, which is often referred to as the Florence of the Elbe.
I’ve never been to Italy, but the cobblestone streets, closely knit buildings and proximity to the water make me agree with that sentiment.
We got to visit the Green Vault, the city’s jewels on display a la Versailles.
Dresden has been in a rebuilding stage since being destroyed during WWII.
All that talk about the Berliner Dom and I forgot to post a picture!
There’s an observation deck not too far from the bells that chime every hour.
It provides a great view of Berlin.
There’s also a crypt underneath, with the remains and caskets of prior kings and queens.
When we visited, a wedding was taking place!