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  • Day45

    Berlin, Germany

    June 16, 2016 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Days 43-44:

    We got to Berlin in the evening yesterday and to be honest, completely planned on taking this city pretty easy. After getting to our penthouse apartment (gross exaggeration, it was a tiny little apartment, but it IS on the top floor!) We just made pasta bolognese, pounded water, watched a little Euro 2016, and went to bed.

    In the morning, we went to make reservations for tomorrow's big journey back to the homeland. Along the way, every plaza along the way was setting up for the Germany game at night. We went to Brandenburg Tor and took pictures as the set up behind for the mayhem to come at night. Which is ironic because the gate has seen its share of crazy through the years. It was originally a gate to the city in the 18th century under Prussian rule as a sign of peace, complete with the goddess of peace, Eirene. It opened to Unter den Linden, a long street lined with Linden trees leading to the city palace, basically a peaceful open door. Then came Napoleon, who after defeating the Prussians, marched his troops through the gate, stole the peaceful Quadriga from the top, and took it to Paris. Then, open your history books to page 1814, Napoleon overextended himself, decimating his army, and allowing the Prussians to invade Paris. The Quadriga (fancy name for a sclupture with someone riding a chariot led by 4 horses, or lions like in Munich) was brought back to Berlin, but was fashioned with a lance with an eagle and the iron cross, and like that she went from the goddess of peace to Victoria, goddess of you-can-figure-it-out. The peaceful gate became a triumphal arch. Fast forward to the Nazis, who used it as a party symbol. Then in the fighting of WWII, it was damaged almost beyond repair, leaving just one horse head intact from the original Quadriga. Then after the war, it was beat up and blocked off, as the Berlin Wall was built right next to it. But strangely enough, the Berlin Wall sort of saved the gate. Media coverage showed Brandenburg Gate as the backdrop to the wall being torn down as the city was reunified. It took another 20 years for the gate to be restored, but now it again stands for peace and unity, despite the war goddess on top...

    From there we had a classic lunch of schnitzel on a pretzel roll with mustard. Yes. Then we made our way back to the apartment and took a nap. We went out for some traditional German cuisine at the local pizzeria, picked up some flags, and got ready to join in the craziness. We took the long way around the city to look at the Berliner Dom, and came upon Stiftung Neue Synagogue. That building, as one can imagine, has a sad history. It was a massive, ornate building with a beautiful hall. It actually survived Kristallnacht, which is a miracle, but then was destroyed during WWII and was demolished afterwards. The saddest part is that the current building is a reconstruction of just the front facade, with the domes and towers. The inside is basically 1 layer of rooms, lacking the main hall and the actual functioning attributes. So it is literally a front.

    Moving on, we actually came upon the Bode Museum, which Jason took for the cathedral on first glance because of its impressive size, dome, and sculptures. Its the crown of "museum island", and really is an interesting historical building. Then we saw the actual cathedral. Apparently it isn't a true Dom for reasons a Catholic person would need to explain to me. We weren't able to go inside, but it was still a nice church, situated along the water.

    Next stop was back to Brandenburg Gate. We got there, saw chain link fences, security guards, and police, and were ushered past the entrance by the gate. We continued along the Großer Tiergarten until we could enter the area to watch the game. We felt good about the situation, despite the expected 3000 people in attendance, since they had CRAZY security. We went in, adorned in red, black, and yellow. It was crazy. 4 or 5 projection screens along the stretch of road up to the gate, food and beer stands, a ferris wheel... wow. They take fußball seriously. We had a beer while watching the first half of the game, then decided to beat the crowds and go back home. On the way out a Poland fan tried to instigate Jason for reasons unknown and for some reason not in front of the police in full riot gear... hmm. But the power of ignoring prevailed. Once out of the park, the streets were eerily empty. They take their fußball VERY seriously. We made it home and will be able to sleep fairly early in preparation for our 10 hour travel day!
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