Friday, July 31, 2015

Day Eighteen Berlin Tower

Berlin is home to some of the best burgers ever.

            I slept in more this morning than I have during the entire three weeks in Europe. I had nothing planned until 20:00, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt. I went out for some authentic German burgers at a nearby restaurant and took my order: a fruit drink and burger with goat cheese and a special sweet sauce. The drink came with a gooseberry garnish and actually included ice! It was so refreshing (literally) to have received such a delicious treat. Next came the actual burger which was absolutely heavenly. After the burger, some mint tea that came with the order combo was delivered to the table. I left the restaurant and went to the hostel to work on my marketing research paper. It was only until the evening that I went out again.
I headed to the lobby to meet with the rest of the marketing group and make our way to the Berlin Tower. Once we arrived, our professor pointed out the lofty TK Maxx that stood before us. I’m not entirely sure why it could just be called TJ Maxx like how it is in the states, but I found it amusing nonetheless. We all headed to the tower and were escorted into a large elevator that separated our group into two. I exited and immediately found myself surrounded by huge windows which functioned to see the Berlin skyline. It was dusk, so the buildings looked especially beautiful in the dim lighting. Unlike the other towers I had visited in Europe, this one was indoors and also included a bar and restaurant. The group winded our way in a circle and went past tons of people to see the city from every angle that the tower allowed for us. Once we had finished looking around we went back down from the tower.
Our professor was kind enough to take the group to a nearby festival and try bratwurst for the first time (currywurst doesn’t count). Although I despise sausages, the dish was extremely delicious. My friend led me to a robotic dragon that supposedly spit flames (I was ecstatic about that), but by the time I had gotten to it the machine was not operational. It was bittersweet, spending my last evening of excursions with the group I had gotten to know so well. My friend and I explored the train station a bit before heading back to the hostel to get some sleep for the next day.

(Day 18) Home to Go

I woke up this morning ready to see more of berlin but also a little sad because I am approaching my final days in Europe. The day started with a company visit to a small start-up company in Berlin, HomeToGo. The CFO of the company gave us a presentation on the startup and the marketing aspect of the company. Listening to the story of how it started and how most of the founders have all been a part of other successful companies before their roles in this company. Being that I want to be an entrepreneur myself, it definitely was inspiring and motivating and I hope to be successful like them one day. after a great company visit my partner and I was ready for some more research. First we went to get my first interview in berlin, so we traveled to a really cool area that was actually full of small boutiques. I researched a shop before going and was hoping to get an interview but unfortunately when I went to it employee said she was not able to do the interview. Then I went to two other small shops in the area and both said they were unable to do interviews today. As soon as I was about to give up, I stopped at one last store and luckily got an interview. Simply happy that I got one interview, I was ready to go to my partners interview. Unfortunately, after traveling 30 minutes and going through 20 different stations we arrived at her interview and the store was closed for a holiday. Despite that, the today was a pretty decent day in Berlin

(Day 17) Concentration Camp

Today was a good day despite the fact that I was not feeling very great towards the end of it. Today we all woke up pretty early because we went on a trip to visit a concentration camp. If there is one thing that everyone associates with Germany, it definitely has to be the Holocaust and although I'm not very interested in topics like it, I still wanted to go because of the experience. The concentration camp we visited happened to be pretty far from our hostel so we had to purchase an extra metro card to travel to zone C. Once we arrived at the actual camp, you could tell that everyone had similar feeling because everywhere you walked there was a certain type a silence that cover the whole place as people was internalizing everything they saw.  Again although I do not fancy the topic, it definitely was a humbling experience that gave me a true visual of something I read about in grade school. After leaving the concentration camp, I returned to the hostel and took a nap hoping I would feel better afterward and I ended up staying sleep for the rest of the day. When I woke up in the middle of the night I was a little upset that I had lost a day of research, but there is tomorrow.

(Day 16) Reichtag

Today was a pretty cool day, after waking up a little later than usual my research partner and I was ready to take on Berlin. Since we aren't too familiar with Berlin yet, first we went with Dr. Shanklin to get a little lesson on how to work the berlin metro. The metro here is similar to the one in Paris although a little more complex, but anything is better than Amsterdam's tram system. My partners first interview was in the same direction as the activity Dr. Shanklin had for his class so we tagged along and he lead us to her first interview. As we walked up to the shop we noticed that someone was leaving and locking the doors and fortunately for my partner we agreed to stop and do a quick interview before he went on a 4 hour lunch break. After finishing her interview, we headed back to the hostel to meet the entire program for a trip to Reichtag, which is where the parliament and central government of Germany sits. Upon arriving, we went through security and then had our group split into two smaller groups. Our tour guide was very informative and at times even a little funny, he was able to make a tour about government actually interesting. One very cool part of the building was the glass dome located in the middle of the building that added to the modern interior of a vintage style building. After leaving the capital building a couple of peers and I went to a restaurant for some great food and we go just that. Today was definitely a good day in berlin and I'm ready to see what tomorrow holds.

Day 19 Shop till you drop

Finally, we got to sleep in today. It was great I don’t think a single member of the marketing class made it to breakfast, which we didn’t care we were happy to sleep through it. Once we had all got up our room plus Darren decided to walk to a burger place around the corner for lunch, brunch, post breakfast; whatever you want to call it. After we had lunch we all headed to the part of town I had been the night before, Alexander Platz, that's where the festival was going on. This also happens to be the part of town where the store Primark is, which is an extremly fashionable and affordable store is located. I'm pretty sure I am the only person in the group who hasn't visited this store and of course I can't be the odd ball out, and boy am I happy I went. I bought so much clothes for only 32 euros. Once we returned to the hostel from shopping we went back to the hostel to get some assignments finished before our big date with Dr. V. I have really enjoyed our trips out with Dr. V it's so nice to have a guide that knows so much about the area, it is almost like having a local show us around. After the T.V. Tower Dr. V treated us to dinner from a vendor at the festival. I finally had a currywurst which is something everyone loves to eat here in Germany, and I definitely don't regret it. After we ate we headed back to the hostel to change clothes, we had plans go out on the town for out last full night here in Berlin. We had a great night out, Berlin sure knows how to party us Americans had to call it quits early compared to the locals. 

Morning train to Leipzig!

I am so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to visit Leipzig with two other classes today.  A professor from Universit├Ąt Leipzig, and friend of Dr. Northcutt, gave us a brief tour of the city and of the university’s new building that houses the 2nd oldest university in Germany.  Founded in 1409. Leipzig University has some famous alumni, including writer Goethe, philosopher Nietzsche, composer Wagner and a more recent alum, Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

Leipzig University

Modern Entrance to historic Leipzig University

Leipzig is a city with old areas that looks as if they came directly out of a Bavarian storybook and they stand in striking contrast to the surrounding modern buildings.   I enjoyed a sense of openness and leisure as I walked through the pedestrian-friendly center and past Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church).  This church gained fame for the 1989 peaceful revolt against communist rule known as Monday Demonstrations.  The church was founded in the 12th century and expanded a few centuries later.  A pillar like the ones found inside the church is in the nearby square. 
Duplicate of Nikolaikirche Piller

Glorious Interior of Nikolaikirche

Our group walked through M├Ądler-Passage where, according to our guide, horses would draw carts full of merchandise to deliver to business in this arcade.  Now this historic passage is full of high-end stores.  Down one section of the passage is a statue of Mephisto and Faust. 

The highlight of my day was visiting Thomaskirche (St. Thomas Church) where Bach was choirmaster and to where his remains were relocated because of the destruction to Johanneskirche in WWII. 


Interior of Thomaskirche

Bach's resting place within Thomaskirche

Marketing class has a final outing tonight to the top of Berliner Fernsehturm (the Berlin TV Tower) constructed by the GDR in the late 1960’s. I look forward to a farewell view of Berlin.

Day 20 (Shop till you drop!)-Berlin

So, I definitely took advantage of the fact that we had no site visit this morning. I slept in so hard. I didn’t get out and about until noon! My classmates and I went to a burger restaurant called “Hans Im Gluck”, of which I’ve actually been three times now. Lol. German burgers are absolutely amazing. I still can’t believe I had a burger for breakfast though. That is definitely one thing that I miss about the U.S; you can have breakfast at any time of day.
PRIMARK clothing store and Alexander Plats festival
Right after we ate, I hit the train with Darren and Ally to Alexander Plats! There was a festival going on over there, and a discount store called PRIMARK that everyone has been talking about. When we got there, there were so many vendors selling all kinds stuff. There were even teams of people selling the service of hair braiding on the spot. That was pretty cool to see. I wish I would have gotten a picture. Right next to the hair braiding station I saw some really cool hats, but with no price on them. You know what that means…. You’ll never know what the true price of the hat is, because that vendor is going to tell you its worth 50 bucks and then try to make you feel special by giving you a “special offer” of 20. Lol I didn’t end up buying the hat, and I glad I didn’t because the PRIMARK store was EVERYTHING!! As you know, I usually don’t even like shopping, but I found a lot of thing that I needed very quickly.
The TV Tower of Berlin

            Tonight, we’re going to be taking a class trip to the TV Tower. This is the tourist attraction where you can see the entire city of Berlin from 207 meters in the air. According to my research, it is the highest publicly accessible building in Europe. This should be a pretty exciting experience. Well, before we go I want to get a workout in. No pain, no gain. But, burgers and fries+Gelato=no gain as well Lol. Dieting abroad sucks.