Sunday, May 4, 2014

We Made It!

It's official. I have traveled outside of the United States for the first time. I'm still pretty jet lagged from all the flying but it feels pretty dang awesome to be in Germany right now. 

Made it to Germany! Victory!
We flew out of the Cedar Rapids airport to the Chicago O'Hare International Airport where we flew into Dusseldorf, Germany and then into Berlin late Saturday morning.

If I am doing the math correctly, it was roughly 10 hours of flying in high altitude, eating airplane food and feeling your ears pop. But our flight into Dusseldorf included movies. That was neat.

Getting to our hostel was quite the adventure, I will say. After we picked up our luggage at the Berlin airport, we had split off into groups to buy cabs. What we didn't realize is that the address given to us on our itinerary was the wrong address my professor forget to change when he finalized it.

Professor Travis Bockenstedt on our city tour today.
So we ended up going to the wrong hostel. The gentleman at the front desk did give us directions to the correct one...unfortunately, it lead to us riding a train literally in a circle and walking with our luggage across cobble stone streets.

So long story short and about two hours later...we made it to the hostel!

I gave my professor so much crap afterwards. But we're cool. No hating going on here. Despite losing our way, we ran into a local food market with a mix of international eats which smelled amazing!

I definitely want to go back and grab a bite to eat there this week. Hopefully it'll happen. Keeping my fingers crossed.

This afternoon (Sunday), our group joined local photographer, Mr. Johnny Whitlam, on a tour of the city.

Local photographer Johnny Whitlam lived in Nottingham before moving to Berlin.
And yes, it is the name of the town where Robin Hood lived.
It felt a little bit overwhelming with all the walking but I think it gave me a better feel for what the city is like and what to expect as someone new to Berlin.

I'm not much of a city person and after being in Berlin for only a day and a half-ish, towns like Cedar Rapids or Des Moines don't come even close to the culture, architecture and history Berlin offers itself.

We covered so much ground. He took us to so many places from the famous Brandenburg Gate, Schöneberg (the city's gay district) and the Berlin Cathedral.
The cathedral is much more beautiful in person. This photo doesn't do it justice. 

Interestingly enough, our tour guide lived in Nottingham, England for quite awhile before coming to Germany. So he relate to us as newcomers and guided us through so much of it in a matter of hours.

One thing I liked about this tour is that Johnny kept his bits at each site short, sweet and to the point; giving us more time to explore and take photographs.

One of my favorite photographs I took from today's trip. 
Street performers as "moving statues." 
Every time you would put in a coin into their tin, the statues would move.
What a way to make a living.
And it is such a beautiful city to photograph. I took over 200 on this tour. Luckily, my SD card can allow up to 3,000 pictures. And there will be plenty more in the next several days.

Sculpture over the Brandenburg Gate in East Berlin.

Getting to experience the sights and sounds of this beautiful city continues to give me ideas for the videos we plan to make for this trip.

One of our projects includes an individual assignment where we cover a unique area or business in Germany on any point of the trip. And I have a few ideas already. But you won't find out what one I choose until I share the final product ;) 

Tomorrow we start our first group project and I can't wait to see what we will come up with. 
Fun Fact: This is the hotel Michael Jackson infamously held his infant child Blanket over the balcony.
And no, we did not reenact this event while we where there. 
Phew! I think I wrote plenty for today's post.

Gute nacht, all! And May the 4th be with you today.

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