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Wanderlust in Deutschland

 

Some of my favourite photos of Berlin since being here….

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I have had a whirlwind of a time since winter has kicked in. I’ve experienced -9 temperatures (in Hamburg up a tower at night), I’ve done the European thing and had a coffee out pretty much every single day, and now the workload is well and truly on my shoulders! Not forgetting, CHRISTMAS is coming! Did I ever mention that Germany has to be probably the most Christmassy country on earth? Like, if there was a prize on which country in the world is the most festive, I think Germany would win this hands down. I’ve seen about a dozen of gorgeous, medieval style Christmas markets in many districts of Berlin (Charlottenburg Palace, Alexanderplatz, Kreuzberg, Zoologischer Garten, Potsdamer Platz…) and further afield in other German cities. I’ve seen Christmas trees larger than houses, people gobbling down warm cinammony Gluehwein and gold fairy lights that twinkle everywhere. Christmas is just awesome here!

But first, I shall start with the memorable weekend of celebrating Berlin’s 25th anniversary of reunification/fall of the wall! I was indeed very fortunate to have been here during this special event! White glowing light balloons were placed along the former route of the Berlin wall. It looked very pretty. Harriet and I ran the whole length of it, starting from near Warschauer Strasse to Bornholmer Strasse. It was a cloudless day and there were 1000s of people walking along the route of it. It was so cool to see real footage of the Fall of the Berlin Wall being broadcasted on large TVs around the city, which was quite moving. It all felt a bit surreal, particularly when we managed to get an amazing spot directly opposite the Reichstag  by the river on the Sunday, when the light balloons were released into the sky. It was surreal to hear chanting all around me in the lead up to the balloons being released, it felt like we had shifted back in time to when the Wall actually fell because of the atmosphere. There were hundreds of thousands of people around central Berlin on that Sunday night. It was truly humbling to have seen such a poignant anniversary!

I had a special visitor fly over too- my Dad! We stayed in a great, central hotel and I showed him all of the most popular/well known sights over the course of a long weekend! He was very impressed with Berlin, so I hope my lovely friends who come and visit me in March/April, will feel the same!

Since being in Berlin, I’ve managed to go to the German theater- for the first time, thanks to Sorcha and Harriet’s suggestion!! There was an Old German lady who approached me at the ticket office, who wanted to sell her ticket (which was originally 70 euro). I however told her I was a student and wanted a cheap one so wasn’t interested. She came back a little while later and gave it to me for 20 euro! As a result, I gained one of the best seats in the Theater (3rd row from the front). A strike of good fortune indeed! And West Side Story was very good, and the songs were sung in English! I’ve also been to the Stammtisch at the Uni a couple of times with Sophia and Sandy, and it’s been so nice just to converse in conversational German and appreciate the international food/drinks on offer!

Essentially, since my last blog, I’ve been travelling around! First Leipzig, Hamburg and then Dresden last weekend! What stories I have! And such early mornings (6am get ups) and heading back to my room at around midnight each time!

Leipzig- with Elin, Alice, Harriet and Sorcha. Can I just say HOW impressed I am with the buses in Germany!? They have leather seats, free Wifi and free coffee!!! And the drivers are pretty speedy! And they’re just so cheap to buy a return. When we arrived to Leipzig, it was crisp and sunny and we spent the whole day walking until the night came! It was so fun, we covered of course the main sights such as the churches and old parliamentary buildings, but above all we discovered the huge river and racecourse! Obviously, we opted for lunch at the racecourse! It was like gourmet it was that good. What was noticeable was how quiet the streets were, despite it being a Saturday. In the afternoon, we carried on walking, until we paid 10 euro to see a misleading exhibition (we thought we could see views of the city, but alas Google was wrong!) and we ended up climbing up stairs in an indoor dome to see paintings (very well painted though) that illuminated images of the Battle of Leipzig (I think), with overly eerie/ amplified music, which was quite hilarious! It was certainly not the place we were dying to see if we had known, but nevertheless the laughs were worth the 10 euro. Leipzig was very small and we definitely saw it all 🙂

Hamburg? I was very impressed with Hamburg. Venus and I went by bus and attempted to sleep (never possible on buses). After 3 hours of coach time, it was lovely to get out and stretch our legs. We didn’t really have a plan, so we got a map from the tourist office and off we went! What strikes me about Hamburg is how much water there is! Which was like a flavour of home. The merchant area was soo beautiful, and like Venus kept saying, it was like “a city of bridges”. Bridges everywhere, small, big, subtle, obvious. I liked the cobbly stones and distinctive brickwork of the very traditional buildings. I think, even though Hamburg is the 2nd biggest city, it is quite calm. Hamburg seemed very upmarket and posh. When we walked to the port area, it was bitterly freezing and I just lost all sensation of my fingers, toes, whole body. When we (by chance) discovered a church in the evening, we took a lift up 10 floors (in the tower) and stood at the top of the church tower outside, and we overlooked the whole city (360 degrees). Words will never justify how cold I felt up there, but it was certainly breath-taking!! (both the temperature and the views!). Before we knew it, we were home.

Dresden- a magical place for Christmas time! Nobody every mentioned to me how stunning it is there generally. I have always wanted to go there because it has the oldest Christmas market in Germany. It was quite small in the town square, but it was so worth the visit! There was a carousel wheel in the middle of the market stalls, as well as the largest Christmas tree in Europe apparently! Irene, Paloma, Bastian, Venus and I walked around Dresden for the day, taking in the views of the Baroque buildings, the river and the palace! We event went to a mathsy museum inside. So I don’t understand maths but I did appreciate the art of the  3D globes, the rulers and compasses and clocks! Again,another day-trip I thoroughly enjoyed!

This time next week I will be flying home for Christmas!!

Well, this is going to be my last blog until 2015…so, Merry Christmas everyone 🙂

Alexia 🙂

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