Wow another week has gone by already! My oh my time is moving very quickly this summer!
On Monday (June 12th) we had our German class again and continued to work in our labs. After working with Arduino for a bit I transferred over to learning how to work a Raspberry Pi. So far it’s going pretty well, though I have to learn a bit of Linux to get anything done on the Pi, so that is taking some time. It is challenging though because the computer is in German, so it makes troubleshooting VERY difficult. After work we went to a Greek restaurant by campus to celebrate Nick’s birthday, and then we all went home to study for our second German test the next morning.
Tuesday started out with German Test 2 and then some more learning. We are all learning the German language very quickly, even if it doesn’t feel that way sometimes. I for sure know a lot more than I ever thought I would, and it is making living here a bit easier. That evening we attempted to find some decent Mexican food in Munich, and were not quite successful. We have no intention of giving up though, because sometimes I just really crave guac and so I’d like to find a place where I can have some. We then went home and had a calm movie night back in the dorm.
Wednesday again started out with class followed by our internships. I had to reset the Raspberry Pi today and was able to change the language to English (YAY!) so that made my life a whole lot easier. In the next week I am going to start combining the Raspberry Pi and the Arduino Uno board together to power a motorized robot, which I am very excited about! After work, some of us travelled into the city and spent the evening hanging out by the water in the English Gardens. That place is quickly becoming our favorite spot in Munich, since we can just sit out in the sun in our swimsuits, have a couple beers and just relax. After the park we went home and packed for our big weekend in Berlin!
Thursday morning we woke up bright and early and got on a bus to head to Berlin. The bus ride took more than 9 hours, and there was no ac for a bit towards the end. That was super unfortunate, and we were all incredibly glad to arrive in Berlin and get out of the bus. When we arrived in the city, we headed to the Bundeswehr base that we were staying on and then went to find food. This time, we actually successfully found a good Mexican food place! The chicken enchiladas were almost as good as home (or maybe they actually weren’t, but we were all starving that night so it seemed like they were). We were exhausted after dinner and immediately went to bed when we got home.
On Friday we woke up early and headed into Berlin where we took a tour of the Reichstag building. We got to learn all about the building’s history, from when it was erected to now, including the various roles it played throughout Berlin’s many rulers. In one part of the building, there was a bunch of graffiti left by Russian soldiers who arrived in Berlin at the end of the Second World War. The Germans seem to purposely leave pieces of history throughout all of Berlin to remember what happened there, and to make sure it doesn’t happen again. After the tour we walked through the Brandenburger Tor, which was insanely beautiful, and then grabbed some lunch. We then headed to the Charlottenburg Palace, which was absolutely beautiful and massive! Once we were done exploring the numerous rooms in the palace, we travelled towards the Spree river where we took a boat tour and got to see a lot of Berlin. We did get shushed a couple times by the other two families (there were literally only two other groups on the boat) for being too rowdy, but hey, we’re Americans and it happens sometimes. After dinner we grabbed some food at an Australian restaurant (we were growing a little tired of German food) and then went out and explored some Berlin bars that night.
We started Saturday with a walking tour of the city. The tour started at Brandenburger Tor and took us through quite a lot of Berlin. We visited the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and wow, it was powerful. It may look a little plain from the photos, but actually walking through the memorial and feeling the concrete blocks grow and surround you is such a powerful feeling. I wish we had had even more time to spend walking through there and visiting the museum underneath. The tour took us past some other historical sites, including a huge Nazi building that managed to survive the war despite being actually massive (but very ugly to look at, like all Nazi architecture). We saw pieces of the wall, stopped by Checkpoint Charlie, and finished the tour outside Humboldt University of Berlin, where the book-burning memorial is. We then took a short walk over to the Berliner Dom, which was so pretty! Walking through Berlin is very interesting because of the numerous different types of architecture you’ll see even just walking down one street. After that we met up with the rest of the group (they had to go on a separate city tour) for lunch and then visited the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. We finished off the day with dinner since it was incredibly late by the time we were heading home.
On Sunday, which was our last full day in Berlin, we visited the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial which is an old Stasi prison where enemies of the Stasi were kept during the cold war. We learned all about how poorly the prisoners were treated during their time there, never being able to see another person but the Stasi workers, and never actually seeing the outside of the buildings they were in. Our tour guide was unfortunately not the nicest lady, which ruined the tour a bit for the group. Most of the tour guides there were actually prisoners at one point, which would have been cool. Our tour guide lived in West Berlin during the times of the wall, so she was very lucky. After the tour we had lunch in a beer garden right by the Berlin Zoo and I had a delicious Flammkuchen, which is basically just a thin crust pizza.
We then saw a bit of the Berlin Wall, though unfortunately not the cool painted part that we wanted to see, and then headed to Mauer Park, which is a giant flea market in Berlin. People were selling food, clothes, soap, postcards and everything else in between. Right outside the flea market part was a huge park area with performers and even a karaoke stage. There were hundreds of people sitting on a hill watching the karaoke singers, which would be so intimidating! After Mauer Park we went to a restaurant right on the side of the Spree and enjoyed a good German meal. We then walked over to watch a informative light show on the side of the German Chancellery Building. It was all about the city of Berlin and its history, and there were English subtitles so we actually understood it!
Monday marked the end of our Berlin excursion, and we hopped on another 9 hour bus ride back to Munich. This ride was far better though! The bus driver told a lot of jokes over the intercom (mostly in German, naturally) and seemed like a genuinely nice guy who loved his job. And the ac on this bus worked so well I even got cold for a bit! We were starving by the time we got back, so we went over to the Augustiner-Keller Biergarten across the street where I had the most delicious mushroom dish I think I have ever eaten. Like, this was a Bavarian dinner item I could eat over and over again for sure.
This week was a long one, with everyday starting at 8 and ending no earlier than midnight, but it was an absolute blast! I really enjoyed getting to see Berlin and hearing about the very unique city history. However, I have to say that Munich has my heart and I am so lucky to get to live here for the summer.
Here are the pics from the trip!