Posts Tagged ‘Berlin’

So this is what everyone is doing right at this very moment:

Morning class at the A+O Hostel in Ostkreuz – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

I’m sitting behind them, listening to their interesting discussion about secularism in contemporary Europe, and about to tell you about the last few AMAZING days in Berlin!

I left off with our arrival on Thursday… On Friday we all met in the morning and went out for our first German excursion – to the Deutsches Historisches Museum on Museuminsel (Museum Island) in downtown east/side Berlin.  We saw exhibits on everything from Friedrich der Grosse (Frederick the Great) to WWII and Nazism in Germany to the story of the Berlin Wall and reunification.

Photo by Shady Grove Oliver     Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Photo by Shady Grove Oliver     Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Although we spent over four hours at the museum, it wasn’t nearly enough for the amount of information there!  After the museum there were a few hours of free time.  Some people decided to walk down part of the Friedrichstrasse (Frederick Street).  There were street musicians playing hot club music:

Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

And the students got to see Ampelmann for the first time.  Ampelmann is the famous Berlin-specific Walk/Don’t Walk sign man:

Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Fast forward to Saturday…

While everyone walked around Tiergarten and explored other parts of Berlin, I ended up going to the hospital with a bad case of bronchitis.  Not so fun, but I definitely got to practice my rusty German and learn new medical words like “Krankenpflege” (it means female or male nurse).

Fast forward to Sunday…

Cori and Professor Nyitray went off to see Schloss Charlottenburg, one of Prussian royal family’s most beautiful palaces in the Berlin area.  The whole group met up for class on Sunday evening downstairs in the hostel.


Yesterday everyone was refreshed after a weekend of rest so we all headed out to Potsdam, one of the most historically interesting places in Brandenburg (the region of Germany in which Berlin is located).  First we explored a German department store (Kaufland) and then hopped on the M-695 bus to Schlosspark Sanssouci (Castle/Palace Park “Without a Care”).  We got off at the Neues Palais (New Palace stop) and started our journey though the beautiful grounds.

Neues Palais was constructed between 1763 and 1769 by Frederich II (der Grosse) as a symbol of Prussian prosperity after the Seven Years War.  It has 300 rooms, 322 windows, and 488 statues!

Perla, Andrew, Jason, Prof. Nyitray, Erin, Angelique, and Cori in front of Neues Palais – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Jason, Perla, Angelique, Andrew, Cori, Shady Grove, and Erin in front of Neues Palais – Photo by Vivian-Lee Nyitray

We continued our walk to the Friendship Pavilion, built by Friedrich II for his favorite sister, Wilhelmina, after her death.  It features famous pairings of good friends:

Friendship Pavilion – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Prof. Nyitray, Jason, Andrew, Angelique, Perla, Erin, Cori, Shady Grove in the Friendship Pavilion

We saw the Chinesisches Haus (Chinese House):

Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

The Windmill:

Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

And finally…we arrived at Schloss Sanssouci (Palace “without a care”)!

Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Where a very nice person offered to take a picture of the whole group:

Perla, Angelique, Andrew, Jason, Erin, Prof. Nyitray, Shady Grove, and Cori in front of Schloss Sanssouci

We saw the grave of Friedrich der Grosse (which has potatoes on it at all times):

Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

And the Orangerie…



After we finished at Park Sanssouci, we took the bus back to downtown Potsdam where we got a bit nostalgic walking around the Hollaendisches Viertel (Dutch Quarter), built in the Dutch style by religious refugees from Holland:


We also got to see the area of Potsdam around the Nauener Tor (Nauener Gate):


We then hopped on the S-7 train back to Berlin.  Professor Nyitray, Cori, Andrew, Jason, and I went to have dinner at Potsdamer Platz – one of the most fascinating places in the city.  It was right on the border of east and west when the Berlin Wall was standing and there is still a small wall exhibit there today:



We had traditional German food for dinner at the Sony Center and watched the sunset…and the lights on the ceiling go from blue to pink to purple…


All in all, it’s been a great few days in Berlin!

View of the Deutsche Bahn building from the Sony Center at night – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Thursday, 09 August 2012

Tot ziens, Nederland! –> Guten Tag, Deutschland!

On Thursday, we checked out of our lovely home for the week in Utrecht — Hotel Mitland — hopped into a few cabs, and went to Utrecht Centraal.  At the central train station, we dragged our bags onto the regional train to Amersfoort and then transferred to the red “Hispeed” train to Berlin.

After a couple of hours, the announcements on the train switched from Dutch to German and we stopped to pick up a German engine and staff at the first border station.  On the train, some of us slept, Angelique and Erin watched one of our course films [“Zwartboek” or “Black Book”], a few people made their way to the lunch car for a first taste of German fare, and others spent the six hours watching the landscape fly by through the windows.

We pulled into Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) at around 17:30 (5:30 pm on a non-24-hr. clock).  It sure is an impressive train station!  It even has a huge sign on one end of the ceiling that says “Wilkommen in Berlin” — Welcome to Berlin!

After getting our transportation passes and getting a feel for our new home, we made our way to the S-bahn platform (the S-bahn is like an above ground metro/subway) and rode to our stop in the Ostkreuz neighborhood.

Ostkreuz S-bahn station – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Ostkreuz S-bahn station – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

And what a neighborhood Ostkreuz is!  It’s filled with restaurants and snack shops (one block alone has a Pho place, a “chicken hut,” a Mexican/Indian joint, and a Japanese/Korean eatery).  Right next door to our hostel (A+O) is a “biologisch” market = all organic with LOTS of vegetarian and vegan food.

Street art in Ostkreuz – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Ostkreuz neighborhood – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

We dropped our bags in our rooms and went out for a wonderful dinner at the Indian restaurant.  For a number of people, this was their first time trying Indian food!  It seemed to be a big hit.  Several bowls of palak paneer and aloo gobi later, we walked back to our new home for nice, long night’s sleep…

…But first we went downstairs for an impromptu survival German lesson and a sampling of local beverages.  I went up stairs to get the vocabulary sheets; when I came back down to the communal area to meet everyone else, I was surprised to hear Disney songs emanating loudly from the lounge.  I was even more surprised to see that it was emanating from two of our own intrepid students who had–to the delight of the lonely barista–discovered the karaoke machine.  Post-Disney and Michael Jackson, we all sat down for a crash-Deutsch course, followed by a round…or two…of pool and then sleep.

Will be updating about our last few days in the Netherlands – due to illness and lack of internet for a few days I’m playing catch-up.  But current updates to come as well.  For now, I bid you…

Auf Wiedersehen!

Hello everyone!  I know I usually just focus on things in the past whenever I do “this week in history,” but we are on the eve of history being made.  In just a few hours it will be HM Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee!  That means she’s been on the throne for 60 years.

Now looking back again (yes, this time it covers a little bit over a week, but hey)…

April 29, 1916 – Irish nationalists in Dublin surrender to British authorities, ending the Easter Uprising.

April 29, 1967 – Boxer Muhammad Ali is stripped of his titles after refusing to serve in the US Army on religious grounds.


April 30, 1789 – George Washington is sworn in as the first president of the United States.

April 30, 1945 – Adolph Hitler commits suicide in his bunker as Soviet forces overrun Berlin.

April 30, 1975 – The South Vietnamese government surrenders unconditionally to North Vietnam, ending decades of war.


May 2, 1945 – The Battle for Berlin ends after lasting less than two weeks with the capture of the city by Soviet forces.


May 4, 1942 – The first ‘selection’ for gassing takes place at Auschwitz-Birkenau.


May 5, 1980 – The SAS storms the Iranian embassy in London, freeing 19 hostages held by terrorists.


May 7, 1945 – Nazi Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies at General Eisenhower’s HQ in Rheims, France.


May 8, 1945 – Prime Minister Winston Churchill announces the end of the war in Europe following Germany’s surrender.