I'm getting behind on my blogging again; I've just been busy with all that needs to be done and seen in my last couple of weeks in the UK. Right now, I'll move on to the Berlin bit of my two-week trip primarily through Eastern Europe. After Athens, I arrived in Berlin. One of the top sights was obviously the Berlin Wall. There are a few sections of the wall visible, but due to time limitations, I only saw the one near Checkpoint Charlie and the Topography of Terrors.
Checkpoint Charlie was one point along the wall, where West Berliners and (rarely and only in exceptional circumstances) East Berliners were allowed to cross to the other side. Today, the East German bit is full of the most expensive shops in Berlin. The West German bit, which was the American sector, now has a McDonalds and a Starbucks...true to its American roots, I suppose!
Near the wall, there was an eerie East German socialist propaganda mural.
While on a walking tour, I learned that Berlin has preserved much of the damage received during World War II as an act of remembrance. This column was one of many damaged during the war.
We also stopped by the Holocaust Memorial.
Berlin offers many museums so it was hard to choose just one. We decided to see the Jewish History museum which focused primarily on the Holocaust, but also of eerily similar persecutions of Jews throughout the centuries. History really does repeat itself, despite all the "progress" society has made. The preservation of the Jews in spite of frequent persecution is remarkable and, as polymath Blaise Pascal pointed out centuries ago, foretold.
After seeing so much of the dark side of Berlin's history, we decided to visit Kathe Wohlfahrt, a Christmas store that opens a stall at the Pittsburgh Christmas market each year. This year, I remarked that I could visit their actual store if I made it to Germany during my travels. Well, I did and it was adorable! (No photos allowed inside though!)
There was still more to see in Berlin, so I will just have to return to Germany again! I will try to have my updates on Amsterdam, UK adventures, and some travelling/study abroad advice in the near future.
Well, it has been almost two months since I last blogged. I shall have to fill in on the happenings in London over the last couple months soon. (There it's in writing; hold me accountable!) So, to break my blogging hiatus, here's a recap of the trip I took to Basel, Switzerland over my birthday weekend. I love how when living in London, anything can be used to justify a trip!
Since Switzerland is pretty expensive at the moment, and Basel is right on the Swiss/German/French border I decided to book a hotel room right over the border in Germany. We left London obnoxiously early in the morning, but we brought eight birthday cupcakes on the flight to make the morning better. As we were enjoying them at 8 AM, a flight attendant walked past asking us if we wanted a RyanAir menu. We obviously declined.
When we arrived at the airport, we did not yet know how the tram system worked, so we attempted to take a taxi from the French side of the airport. However, all the taxis were oddly driverless, so we got one from the German side. When we reached our hotel, there was no in at reception and all the signs on the door were in German. No one answered our phone calls. Luckily, there was a random Turkish restaurant with a few workers that spoke minimal English. They were willing to host us until the reception at our hotel finally decided to return from lunch break!
Another annoying aspect of Basel, was that everything except for a few markets was closed on Sunday! For the country with the world's most thriving currency, I was not expecting them to close all their business for the full day! We still managed to catch a tram to France for lunch, visit a market, and explore the old town.
Basel was gorgeous and had lots of the great architecture.
On our last day in Basel, I braved the cold and slight snow for a quick walk on the Rhein. It was really pretty!
None of the signs were in German and at one point, even my started thinking I spoke German.
It was quite interesting trying to figure out what everything meant! Luckily, there were always helpful English speakers who were able to assist us. Of course, just because I can't speak German, doesn't mean that I don't pretend like I can speak German. There was an Aldi right beside our hotel. Even my little hometown has an Aldi and it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I realized it originated in Germany.
Therefore, I decided I could go over and just pretend to be German. It started off well. I found some Swiss chocolate and muesli and was standing in the queue at the till (see how British I sounded there?) The check out lady said, "Guten tag." So I said, "Guten tag." Then she said something and I smiled and nodded and handed her my credit card. And she said something else. So I smiled and nodded. And then the lady behind me asked if I spoke English and said, "We don't take debit cards here." I thanked her and tried to pay with Swiss francs. She kindly translated that they didn't accept that kind of currency there either. Well, blending in didn't go so well!
Overall, it was a great trip and I'd love to go back to that area!
Coming soon (see it's in writing so everyone can hold me accountable): London updates over the past two months!
Hi, I’m Crystal! Just like you, I love to travel. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 24 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: email@example.comHappy Travels, Crystal
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