The Fall of the Wall

(Checkpoint Charlie)

Returning to Blagoevgrad at 1:00 AM, sleeping in, skipping both of my classes, and unpacking my bags concludes my fall break in Germany. Throughout the nine days I spend traveling through Germany, I discovered that this was a country in which I could spend of few years of my life. Everyone was very friendly (beginning with the man at passport control) and spoke English when my German failed. More than any other country I have spent time in, I fell in love with the people, the culture, and the life of Deutschland!

After spending three days in Lübeck, my mother’s friend and I drove three hours southeast to Berlin. Waking up at 6:30 AM on Saturday, we arrived in Berlin around 11:00 AM for a tour of the Bundestag, the German Parliament building with a great view of the city. Severely damaged during the Second World War, the building was renovated by Sir Norman Foster and reopened in 1999 with a spectacular new glass dome. Following our tour of the government building, we then strolled through the Tiergarten (Berlin’s largest city park) before heading to the apartment where we would be staying.

Deciding to spend the evening relaxing because we were tired, we attempted to catch a film; accidently arriving after the movie began because we thought it started later than it actually did. Instead, we found a traditional Christmas market, complete with glüwein (hot mulled wine), germknödel (fluffy yeast dough dumpling filled with jam and melted butter on top, often eaten with vanilla cream sauce and poppy seeds), cheese, and fireworks. Hanging out at the market for a while, we returned to our apartment; exhausted but happy.

(a glass of glüwein at the market)

Sleeping in until 8:30 AM on Sunday, we ate a late breakfast at a café across the street and planned the rest of our day. Because the sights of Berlin are spread out throughout the entire city, we decided to participate in a hop-on hop-off bus tour. Beginning our bus tour at the Konzerthaus (concert house) we jumped on the bus before dismounting and view the East Side Gallery. A remaining section of the Berlin Wall was turned into an international memorial for freedom; containing 105 paintings from artists all over the world over its 1.3 kilometer long surface. The building of the wall began on August 13, 1961; remaining erect during the time my mom visited Berlin. Now, after its fall in 1989, I can freely stand on the bricks marking the path of the dividing line; showing the slow transformation of a newly united city.

(standing along the East Side Gallery)

On my final day in Berlin, we awoke bright and early, ready to see the remaining parts of the city. Again hopping on the bus, we viewed the Charlottenburg Palace from the top deck of the bus before dismounting at Checkpoint Charlie. As the most famous of the Berlin Wall crossing points, this station was the location of a brief standoff between American and Soviet Union tanks in 1961. Walking through the nearby museum, I gained a better perspective a life in Berlin during the Cold War.

Because my mom’s friend was a student in Berlin while the Berlin Wall existed, I was able to view the city from her perspective. To hear various thoughts, stories, and insights into the heart of Germany during the twentieth century was a privilege I will never forget. My travels through Germany ended; bring me back to Blagoevgrad. Although I already miss that great country, I know that I will return someday, hopefully to remain for more than nine days!