Where I Have Been Map

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The "Hoff's" Hometown

After the extremely long and uncomfortable plane ride, we were finally ready to explore Europe. We started our adventure in the home country of David Hasselhoff... Germany. Of course, David Hasselhoff is not at all the most important thing about Germany, however Germans seem to love bragging to tourists about him. In fact, one of the first nights, my sister and I found a huge portrait of him inside the most popular hostel in Berlin. Under the picture was a brass plate that simply stated "The Hoff".

We stayed in Berlin for most of our time in Germany, and Munich for only one day. Germany has such a unique culture, landscape, climate, and especially history. Walking on the streets of Berlin, one of the most well known cities in the world, is nothing like I would have expected. This large city had no deafening noise of traffic, no mobs of people crowding the sidewalks, and no real fear of danger from pickpocketers. Berlin was in face the calmest big city I have ever visited. The atmosphere was relaxing, and the unique warm climate only added to the relaxtation.

The first day we were there we went on a free 3-hour walking tour. The history of Berlin and how it was torn apart by the Berlin Wall, only to unite itself once again was truly inspirational. It also impressed me how Germany remembers the Holocaust. In the center of Berlin, there is a huge monument dedicated to the Jewish poeple who lost their lives. The place where Hitler died became an abaondoned parking lot. Although they could have made a significant amount of money by opening the spot where he died and his underground embassy as a tourist attraction, they decided that doing so would attract the wrong kind of attention from tourists.

This is the Jewish Memorial in the heart of the Berlin. The artist never explained his work, so people intrprete these hundreds of rows on an uneven floor that hold unlevel blocks as many different things. One artist interpreteted this memorial as a problem that strated out like waves that start out small, but eventually the waves grow larger and overcome the people as you walk to the center of the memorial.

Another place well worth visitng in Berlin is the Charlottenbour sloss Palace, which only costs 9 Euros. At first site, the palace does not look extremely impressive, but once inside i became amazed by the grand rooms filled with intricate gold designs that covered and brightened teh walls. On the ceilings of the rooms were breathtaking paintings of gods and the heavens, as well as delicate life size statues of goddesses that bring the paintings and statues together, really bringing the room to life. However, if that does not sound impressive enough, the gardens make up for any doubt of this palace's charm. Stepping into the gardens made me feel as if I was in the middle of a Disney Princess movie. The bright colors of the various flowers planted in artistic patters, the clear ponds which were complete with elegant swams, and the castle towering in the background cannot be explained by anything but fairy tale like. At one point while we were walking in the gardens, a bird actually flew into my open hand! If that's not something straight from Cinderella I don't know what is.

It didn't take more than one day to realize that Munich was quite the opposite of Berlin. There was much more traffic in the streets, many more crowds, and extemely touristy. All this together, however, made Munich a traditional city where the Old German culture was very apparent.

When we got into town, we were immediately greeted by towering cathedrals and clocktowers. The shops on the side of the streets sold lederhosens and enormous beer mugs. On the hour, all the clocktowers would go off simultaneously and we would be greeted with the sounds of the glockenspiel as statues came out of the clock and danced around.

Here is a typical clothing shop, Lederhosens are the big sale this week! And every week!

The city displayed the carefree and lively cutlure of Germany, and I was sad to have to leave so soon. However, the next stop in the PEE '08 adventure was Rome, and it was quite the city of adventure.

Clocktower in Munich

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