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Berlin and Füssen August 25, 2010

Posted by justinkeating in Travel Log.
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To start off my tour of Europe I joined Alexa, Ethan, Hunter in boarding a train from Metz to Berlin for our first weekend in Europe. Our train left shortly before midnight and got us to Berlin, which means swamp as a testament to the swamp the city is constructed on, early the next morning, after a surprisingly decent night of sleep. Arriving at Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof station is quite the experience, as the building is a sprawling piece of modern glass architecture four levels high, each level representing many stories. Naturally, it took us some time to find the tourist office in the behemoth structure, but we soon had a map of the city nine times the size of Paris, a plan to take a walking tour, and were off! The sense of place that exists in Berlin is engulfing and one cannot help but feel the immense history permeate one’s visit. Upon leaving the Hauptbahnhof, one of the first structures we came upon was the Reichstag (and its long lines to enter the glass dome that now stands atop it.) I couldn’t think of a better way to say Welcome to Berlin! We continued that day to see the Brandenburg Gate, Hitler’s Bunker, some of the cities more famous plazas, the Berlin Wall, the Humbolt University and the Bebelplatz across the street where the Nazi’s infamously burnt many books, the SS and Gestapo headquarters, an intimidatingly large and barren structure, and the Holocaust memorial,which is a quite stunning a thought provoking structure composed of concrete columns of various heights protruding from a plaza that slopes downward towards its center. Walking through these stone like columns and the shadows of light and dark it creates helps one to understand the gravity of the memorials meaning and truly feel for the millions lost at the hands of the Nazi’s.

We left Berlin in the evening on another night train, this time through Münich to our eventual destination of Füssen, a sister city of Helen, GA! Unfortunately, this night was less restful as we had to sleep in non-reclining seats. Füssen, however, made up for a few hours of discomfort. Bavaria, the region of Southern Germany of which Munish is the capital, offers some of the most stunning natural beauty on the planet as one walks through lush vegetation, gazes of expansive and clear lakes with cliffs for walls, and hikes the Alps. Our visit to Füssen was highlighted by tours of Neuschwanstein (the basis for the Cinderella Castle) and Hohenschwangau Castles and enjoying some local German and some surprising good Italian food before heading back to Metz. It was a spectacular start to my summer travels!

 

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