Friday, September 25, 2015

Wittenberg and our first day in Berlin

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After a somewhat disappointing night in Weimar, we were anxious to get on the road to Berlin the next day.  We made one stop along the way in Wittenberg, which is where Martin Luther gave his 95 Theses.  There is a whole memorial to Martin Luther in his former home.  I didn't know much about Martin Luther and it was a pretty interesting stop. It's a small town and you probably wouldn't want to stay an entire day there, but it was definitely worth the stop.
Downtown Wittenberg

Martin Luther's house and now a museum

After we grabbed some delicious Italian food, we hit the road for Berlin.  We arrived there around two and pulled up to our AirBnB.  We had some difficulty getting in to the apartment building since neither of us had a working cell phone or wifi and the name of the owner or the apartment number wasn't listed on the buzzer outside.  Finally, we followed someone into the building and found the apartment number that we had received earlier.  After this whole ordeal, we'll definitely be communicating better with our AirBnB renters.

We weren't sure about this AirBnB since the outside looked pretty drab and kind of sketchy, but it was definitely the nicest one that we've stayed in.  They even had a book of recommended restaurants, sights and tips around the apartment.  Two girls were there to greet us (we're still unsure how they're connected to the man we were coordinating with on the website) and we got settled in quickly.  Side note: if you want tips on how to perfect your AirBnB experience, see Kelly's post here

After we settled in, we realized that the last Sandeman's Walking Tour (free!) left in a half an hour from a location 27 minutes away!  We booked it there and made it just in time! We normally aren't big guided tour type people, but Mike's sister Kelly (notice a trend? She's a great travel reference!) raved about this one, so we figured it would be a good intro to the city. We were right!! It was a great way to see a bunch of different sites relatively quickly (2.5 hours).  Plus, we got to see things that we would have never known about without doing a lot of research. 

First, the hotel where Michael Jackson hung his baby Blanket (no, not his baby blanket, his baby named Blanket!  Don't worry, I was confused at first too!) over the balcony! It's actually a really nice hotel where people like the Queen, President Obama, and the Pope have stayed, but it's most famous for Michael Jackson's little stunt. 

I think Lucy said it was from the third floor....

The second was the site of Hitler's suicide.  It was actually really interesting because all that is there is an apartment complex parking lot.  The bunker is underground and it's been destroyed.  The Germans didn't put anything to mark it's location just in case there were any neo-natzis who wanted to come and memorialize Hitler.  Instead, it's just a patch of grass where apartment residents take their dogs to use the bathroom.  Coincidence? I like to think not.

Overall, the tour was great.  Our tour guide, Lucy, was an Aussie who was extremely knowledgeable about Berlin and it's history, as well as great places to eat and drink afterwards.  She recommended a stock market bar to us and we quickly made our way there.  There is a stock market bar in Baltimore that Karen and I had talked about going to, but never made it to before I left, so I was excited to try it out.  The way it works is like the stock market.  The more popular the beer (the more people who buy it), the more expensive it is. The prices go up as the night goes on.  In some bars, the stock market crashes and then all of the beers go back to the same low price (usually a dollar).  We didn't witness a crash, but we found some cheap beers and were very happy!  It was a lot of fun and you can usually get some pretty cheap beers. 

This was when we were dashing to make the tour, but definitely noteworthy.   When we were in Germany, there were thousands of refugees storming the train stations in Munich and entering the country.  We didn't see any, but we definitely saw people wanting to welcome them!

Our awesome tour guide Lucy!

One of the many Holocaust memorials.  It was interesting because there were no signs or anything because you were supposed to interpret it yourself.  Instead, it was just a ton of big, concrete blocks all different heights. 

Throughout the city, there is a brick wall where the Berlin Wall used to be.  You can literally be in two places at once.

We had a great first day in Berlin! It was definitely different from Bavaria.  The city is very eclectic and international, which gives it a cool, urban feel.  I think we both prefer the quaintness of Bavaria, but Berlin was pretty cool!

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