ich ein ben berliner :3

drinking a german beer with[out] a Cuban cigar

well this is a little delayed. i’m literally on the flight to ROME ROME ROME ROME FOCUS LOOKING FORWARD right now. very excited for that as well, but honestly unclear how it could live up to berlin even though it is, well, rome. (how do you even compare two world class cities anyways???)

here’s the thing. berlin is literally the coolest place i’ve ever been to ever. idon’t know how else to say it but i’ve never been anyplace nearly as interesting and ialready made a promise to myself that i’d go back (especially after 21 to get into watergate) because i’ve found my soulmate city. it literally sits at the intersection of history (WWII, berlin wall….) and modernity (Bauhaus design, pop-up shops…). also, the city just has an energy that i’ve never felt anywhere else.

but before i get to everything that went down in berlin, i have to get to getting there :3 i already detailed the chaos that was figuring out flights after alex accidentally bought them for the wrong day. still — hella impressed that everyone (well… everyone but one: rip tyjair. i still don’t understand how your bus malfunction story makes sense but whatever. still feel so so so bad) made it.

i left cité at 6:30 in the morning with kyle, ryan, phil, summer, and pansy to catch our germanwings flight to düsseldorf before transferring to berlin. we took the #3 bus to bel air and then transferred to the #10 which ends at the airport. pretty simple stuff really. geneva’s public transportation is top. only really have one remark about the geneva airport: randomly they have pictures of casablanca (like the movie. not the place. although i guess technically the movie is set in the place… wohoa-oa morocco. not going to lie wish i could get to go see that too) everywhere. like there were rows and rows of pictures of the scene where lisa tells rick she still loves him after all those years apart and they kiss and you’re like damn that’s tragic because it’s just not meant to be *spoiler alert*. it’s one of alex’s fav movies (we discussed in chamonix) and i guess brownie points since i watched that movie right before i left with my friend claire (yay for classic movie night!) and i literally have a quote on my computer sticky notes about how all of our personal problems “don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world” because realistically it’s true. so here’s to looking at you, kid… anyways, just a cool coincidence i guess. got to explain the story to kyle anyways since he wanted to know.

yeah… so despite the fact that like not even two months ago a germanwings flight crashed (which meant statistically we were safer since after a crash, airlines really try to rectify all mistakes… really that’s no comfort), we were deposited safely in berlin without too much trouble (except for the awk one hour tarmac delay — kyle fell asleep and woke up right as we started moving down the runway as was like cool! we’re here but no…. never left.). i had eaten a delicious muffin (basically chocolate cake with internal frosting and chocolate shavings of love and life who am I kidding myself it was dessert) in the airport at geneva that was wondrous but by the time we finally landed at tegel i was starving.

we exited the airport and tried to get an uber to the hotel which doesn’t exist in berlin #strongunions and really frustrated kyle (“not in this damn place too”) so kyle — he speaks german — got us a cab and then we were on our merry way to the hotel alexander [side note: okay so out of place but we are about to land in italy and we are over the tyrrhenian sea and i fricken love the mediterranen oh my gosh i’m so so so excited have been dreaming of rome and venice since I was a little kid legit threaming]. the ride there was kind of oddly reminiscent of illinois — there was a part of it that really did look exactly the same as when you drive from chicago back to where my house is which was a strange experience. once we arrived at the hotel, since we landed an hour late, we had all of 10 minutes to drop our stuff, find sustenance down the block (had random salad and zucker cookie), and meet up with the group that had taken the 6 am flight to go on alex’s historical/architectural tour of the city.

the hotel had these weird punch key cards that were actually made of non-disposable plastic and clearly not magnetized.
hotel also had random water pitcher with giant hunk of charcoal in it… unclear how this affected the overall nonflavor of the water.

alex’s tour was really cool. we hit all the main tourist sights, but somehow at all the wrong angles. like it wasn’t even his fault because of fences and other restrictions, but we saw the reichstag building (hello ms. merkel) from an awkward side angle and then the brandenburg gate from behind. brandenburg was also partially obscured a stage that was being set up for a music festival later that night (probably the coolest concert venue ever tbh). besides the reichstag and brandenburg gate, we also saw the victory column, soviet union war memorial, hotel avalon (where hitler often stayed) and the memorial to the murdered jews of europe before settling down for a brief snack break of bratwurst and currywurst in the shade of a large umbrella. the memorial to the murdered jews of europe was actually incredible. it’s a series of blocks that look like coffins outside of the american embassy which looks flat as you approach it but actually the ground that the sculpture is built on is tilted at odd angles so some of the blocks are a lot taller than others. it’s seriously disconcerting to walk through the monument. it’s supposed to be dizzying and it really actually is. i don’t have a single clue how the artist came up with the concept, but it’s brilliant.

i picked up a black raspberry hard cider at the place we stopped at and since europe has chill open container laws i basically just wandered the streets drinking it as alex told us more about everything (seriously he knows so much… we talked about WWII for a bit because that’s honestly one of my favorite periods of history). i spilled half of my drink on myself when trying to take a picture, though. typical me. lizzy was dying.

part two of our tour included the last remaining nazi building in berlin — the architecture is designed to make you feel small with long windows and really harsh geometry because ultimately the state was everything — checkpoint charlie (where the american, french, british, and soviet sectors of berlin met and consequently many people tried to cross the wall after the west german sectors combined), and the berlin wall, which obviously was the highlight. we also passed by the place where you could rent travis. travis are these really crappy east german cars that people in the DDR had to drive because obviously there weren’t any incoming car brands to choose from.

you’re supposed to feel intimidated.
east side gallery! interestingly enough it’s not in it’s original location. it was uprooted and replanted (been waiting my entire life to use that seriously) to where it is today. the longest remaining section of the wall in its original location is next to the topography of terror exhibit which i visited on sunday.

i learned that berlin is built on a swamp which is why there are really quite artfully colored pipes above ground [side note: this is important later…]. i also learned that berlin is the most liberal city in germany, and practically always was. even hitler felt uncomfy here because he wasn’t with his bavarian fan club. like during the weimar republic a trend of nudism started that continues on today. we saw many naked men roaming around tiergarten. and also, germany just legalized gay marriage last month and the pride parade happened the weekend we were there which was an incredibly joyous occasion and very cool to see (i haven’t even been to the one back home in chicago?) but also entailed many nude men.

alex ended our tour at the east side gallery, which is the section of the berlin wall that has essentially turned into an art exhibit i split off from the rest of the group because i wanted to walk down the entire thing (about two miles in total) and they were all tired and wanted to go back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. lizzy gave me her phone and then i just wandered down, taking pictures. i wasn’t worried. i knew i had to take the U1 all the way down to the end of the line. (PSA: berlin’s public transport is also fire. i love how it’s divided into the U, S, H bahns seriously so logical.) but of course i get on it and then it turns out there’s construction or something so i have to reroute and ended up going back and forth between two stops and getting very confused before realizing i needed to just take a bus a couple of stations over before getting back on the U1. i eventually figured it out though and even was able to navigate back to the hotel based on where the gucci store was. shopping in berlin is HUGE and our hotel was located right next to the street with all the bourgeois stores. it’s really interesting too though since the grunge movement is pretty big here and really no one on the street wears any this high-class stuff. apparently martha asked our hotel owner and the stores cater mainly to random russian people that roll through. so the stores like aren’t even for the berliners?

speaking of berliners i tried to find a jelly doughnut so i could relive JFK’s “ich ein ben berliner” moment in all it’s awkward glory but then alex told me that was anti-kennedy propoganda and i got confused and didn’t even know what to do or think…

anyways, i got back to the hotel around 9 and everyone else was already out to eat. matt and daniela had just got back from finding a power converter since they had forgotten theirs in geneva so we decided to go walk to where everyone was eating. but then we got there and were like why the hell are you guys eating at an italian restaurant in berlin?? and found a biergarten instead.

the beer was incredible, the food was incredible, and there was a man strumming hotel california and jason mraz-ish stuff on the corner near where we sat so all in all a very enjoyable experience save for the mosquitoes that exist in berlin #swampliving which attacked me as i enjoyed my meal. honestly convinced that the presence of mosquitos is the only bad thing about berlin tbh. matt ordered this pork leg and it ended up being this massive hunk of meat like three times the size of my arm that we all ended up attacking together. i had schnitzel for the first time and loved it. german food is seriously so so so good. after starving in geneva, it was nice to have something as hearty as schnitzel, boiled potatoes, and this other side dish that we all tried but seriously could not identify. lmao.

it turns out daniela, matt, and i spent a really long time eating. like we got back to the hotel at 11:15 and when we hit wifi my phone blew up (once again lycamboile was oh-so-conveniently malfunctioning) and it was brought to my attention that everyone was going out to hit up the clubs at 11:30. i was dead-set on showering beforehand because i was so gross (berlin is humid. which also explains the mosquitoes) and somehow i made it work? legit took a shower and threw on makeup in the span of 15 minutes. was hilarious too because lizzy and i somehow ended up twinning even though it was entirely unplanned…

berLIT for real

this was seriously the most fun night i’ve had possibly ever. like going back to penn parties or anything else ever will not compare to matrix. (can’t wait until i’m actually 21 for real clubbing experience in the most famous party city in europe!) it was great too because basically everyone in our entire group came. we all piled into four taxis and then hurtled through the streets, right past the berlin wall, to the club. i guess that’s what i love the most about berlin: the contrast between all this current stuff and everything that scarred the city in the past. it’s healed but the scars still show, and to an extent the city wants that. they hope by showing the scars the history won’t be repeated.

anyways, this club had like four or five different rooms and two or three bars. i walked in and could immediately tell that it was not going to be as whack as all the other european clubs i’d been to so far. after all, this was berlin. each place had different music going — one had some lovely 50s-80s hits which was cute and also right up my alley. i guess we spent the majority of our time in the latin dance music room (just bought enrique iglesias tickets so you could say i’m a fan). we spent some time in the current pop music room too but there were strippers and we danced in a cage and idk… it’s always safer to salsa. it was really cool though because of the huge international presence in the club. some guy from spain kept asking me something (maybe to dance??? since it was repeated but honestly couldn’t hear him) and all i heard was de d ónde eres? and i was like el E.E.U.U.? los estados unidos? qué???? we all danced the night away until like 4 am. getting home was a nightmare though… multiple people tried to sell us drugs and then dustin literally died since he somehow has zero capacity to contain alcohol. kyle proceeded to fall asleep on the cab ride home as jake was screaming about rent-seeking and how uber should be allowed in germany as amna told the cab driver how we all really felt about trump. we turned really fast at one point and then kyle toppled on top of pansy which was hilarious since he was actually deadweight and pansy is pretty small she was like help what do i do. but then he woke up. pansy and i got into the room and then i showered and went to bed for a brief nap before we had our morning business tour with martha.

9:00 am breakfast was a bit ambitious the next day but we all somehow pulled through. then we embarked with martha as our guide for a brief business tour of germany. the second we walked to the bus stop we realized that the streets were closed for the the pride parade which was about to happen. we asked some people when it started — at noon — and martha tried to structure her tour around our time limit so we would be able to see it. since we couldn’t take the bus, we walked to the kaiser wilhelm II memorial church which is one of the only structures still standing pre-WWII in the immediate area since berlin got bombed so badly. it has a gaping hole in its side from where shrapnel hit it. we stood by the church and talked about pop-up shops, which are berlin-specific stand-alone stores. essentially, you (a small business person) rent out a small box-like space and sell your stuff for a temporary lease. we then went into bikini berlin (which was directly across the street) to check out some of the pop-up stores in there. i bought some ked-like shoes for 20 euros which was clutch since the shoes i had worn to matrix basically got destroyed the night before (plus, i’d had those shoes since when i first went to greece in 2008 so no qualms about leaving them here).

next, we headed to the sony center which has this incredible glass almost-ceiling, which confused me to no avail because why would you build a ceiling and then leave a gaping hole in it? i mean, what happens when it rains??? like zero functionality. still. it was really cool architectually. turns out sony lost a ton of money in building it too. it’s now owned by the south korean pension fund society or something like that which also makes no sense.

everything is glass except for the center hole. someone explain to me who thought that was a viable construction design.

outside of the sony center there are these fake wooden structures with building well-painted facades. apparently it’s supposed to convince potential investors to invest nearby because of the could-be phenomenon. it was pretty interesting, really. you can still tell when you pass over from west germany to east germany.

next, we headed to kadewe, which by all metrics, takes the cake in terms of apartment stores. after standing outside for a bit to watch part of the pride parade pass, daniela, matt, and i roamed every floor and were astounded by 2000€ jackets, even more expensive shoes, bejeweled dog collars, and a vast array of children’s toys. it’s a massive seven floor building and the last two floors are dedicated to food so basically you reach heaven going up the final escalators. [cue harp sounds here]

manor has a cafeteria-style restaurant at the top, too but kadewe’s was way way better. the sheer variety of food available was actually astounding — like anywhere from apple streudel, gelato, mousse, and crepes to schnitzel, burgers, moroccan chicken, and all sorts of vegetables. it’s all priced by weight so i actually spent so much money there… like $30 on lunch which i proceeded to inhale because i wasn’t about to waste a single dime.

while i was eating, it started to pour. i mean like really really pour. like we later found out it was the most rain berlin has had in 50 years. the sky opened up and just let it all out — streets were flooded and basically everyone took shelter underneath store canopies. but i wasn’t about to let that stop me from getting the most out of my day. earlier, i had planned that after martha’s tour, i would go to wannsee house and potsdam to see the place where the potsdam conference happened post-WWII and sansoucci palace. i asked if anyone else wanted to come with me, but the people that weren’t going on alex’s second history tour (for those who had missed the first since they came in past 2 pm the day before) wanted to go up-scale shopping instead.

i don’t have enough money for that at the present moment and seriously am the most stubborn person i know (yiayia tells me i’m hardheaded but then i just smile and tell her i got it from her) so i wasn’t about to let the fact that i was travelling solo nor the actual ongoing monsoon deter me from my historical venture.

i left kadewe with the full knowledge that i would get soaked on the way to the train station and wandered through the flooded streets to the zoo stop where i got on the s bahn to get to fredericksburg and then transfered onto a regional line to get to wannsee. it was a little over an hour to the wannsee station and i was still soaking wet by the time i got there, but i still felt like i lucked out because the monsoon had been reduced to a drizzle. unfortunately the monsoon had not catered well to my camera… i took it out after i got off the train and realized there was water in the screen and viewfinder. i was about to enter hardcore panic mode but then i realized that the lens worked fine and still took pictures so i would just have to rough it without a working LCD display for the rest of the trip.

i took the bus for a bit and then got out on a street of beautiful german villas — super stately homes — right along a lake. i also passed several boathouses on my way to where i was going and was like lmao crew. it definitely would have been a super pretty place to row.

after roaming around for about 15 minutes, i finally reached wannsee house. it’s eerie in its beauty. definitely one of the places that you can feel the weight of where you’re at. for those who don’t know, the wannsee conference was where the big gun nazi officials (hitler, himmler, heydrich, etc.) decided on “the final solution” to the jewish question which is just a crazy messed-up euphemism for extermination. it occurred on january 20, 1942.

this beautiful villa was originally owned by an industrialist before it was sold to the state and used for the purposes of war meetings. later on, the allies used it as well.

i bought an audio guide and walked around the interior, which had been converted into a museum that detailed the history of the discrimination of the jews in germany starting with the misinterpretation of charwin’s evolutionary theories as social darwinism. i was a bit disappointed that the room where the conference actually occurred was not preserved or set up the way that it had been in the past. like full conversion to a museum. the center has a case with the minutes of the meeting though. i read through the whole thing. there’s an instance where the translation from german to english is skewed though and makes literally no sense because apparently heydrich said something that wasn’t even a sentence. whatever he meant by it has been lost to the ages.

“the room where it happened”

after wannsee, i reversed course back to the train station and then took the S7 farther down the line to potsdam. potsdam is technically another city, but it’s more just a souped up version of a suburb of berlin. or actually, it’s the capital of the principality of bradenburg with after a little bit of confusion in which i wandered a random town on the outskirts of potsdam, i finally sorted out directions and waited for the correct bus to get to schloss cecilienhof, which was the location where the potsdam conference that decided the terms of germany’s surrender/partitioned germany and berlin occurred. it was the last meeting among “the big three” allied powers and the first time president truman was on the international scene.

i got off the bus and walked through this obscenely pretty park until i found the building, which was oh-so-conveniently under construction. which was kind of funny because the front of wannsee house was also under restoration construction. but oh well.

mr. crane, can you please move over.

since i got there past six, i was not able to go inside the building. i couldn’t tell whether it was a hotel or not… like no one was going in or out, but it was labelled as such. i just walked along the outside and continued my way roaming about the park since it was honestly the perfect temperature after the rain. there were a lot of bike paths and plenty of people milling about. it was seriously so beautiful, and it was around this point when i decided i was so so glad that i’d gone out to potsdam alone. there’s nothing like wandering by yourself through nature to clear your mind :3

after about a good 50 minutes of roaming — part of which involved taking 10+ photos of this one shot trying and failing to capture this image where you could see the top of the potsdam rathaus through a canopy of trees — i started to walk back to potsdam city center in order to figure out how to get to sansoucci palace. it was quite a long walk, but once again, perfect weather.

i got to the outside of sansoucci palace and panicked because i looked up the stairs and the gate was closed but then i saw some guy and his girlfriend go in and was like blessed t god no one locks this gate. i went inside and then actually *jaw-dropping moment* i saw this and sansoucci immediately became my favorite individual place i’d been the entire three weeks i’ve been on this trip.

like i don’t know if you could get any more romantic than this. i’ve never been anywhere so regal. the gardens were even more beautiful than the park i’d been walking around before and the entire time i was like frederick the great i love you i love you i love you go prussia! it was the perfect place to watch the sun set.

i enjoyed my walk around the grounds of sansoucci palace way too much… like basically hummed to myself while i strolled anywhere and everywhere dreaming up some conception of who i wish i was. it was past 9 when i realized i should probably leave to get back to berlin and then of course i got distracted on my way back to the train station. ended up at the city square where there was some african festival. i grabbed a currywurst with fries and watched the music performers for awhile. then, i found the nearest bus stop and proceeded to be eaten alive by mosquitoes while i waited for it to arrive. finally around 10 i was on the train back to berlin which conveniently stopped working one stop before i was supposed to get off and resulted in more lonesome meanderings. but clearly i made it home safe so everything is gucci.

the next day was sunday and a large portion of our group had plans to go to sachsenhausen concentration camp, which is located in oranienburg just about an hour north of the city. not so fun fact: oranienburg was the center of all concentration camp administration (as in the SS Death Head Unit was based there). aaditya, josh, pansy, tori, jamie, and i were up the earliest so we left around 9:30 to get there. we tried to follow alex’s instructions but then awkwardly ended up getting off the first train at oranienburg strasse instead of the actual suburb of oranienburg which was kind of funny because aaditya went into a hotel and was like “how do we walk to sachsenhausen?” and the guy at the desk laughed and was like dude, you’ve got a ways to go. but he was super helpful in reorienting us and we got back on the train and to oranienburg about 45 minutes later.

oranienburg is this almost perfectly preserved east german town. we walked from the station to the concentration camp and then we got to sachsenhausen. it was an experience i’m never going to forget, made all the more potent by the fact that i had gone to the wannsee house the day before and now had the opportunity to see exactly how “the final solution” played out.

sachsenhausen was one of the nazi’s model concentration camps, largely due to the fact that it was built so close to the oranienburg administrative center. it was considered a training ground for all Death Head officials. it was mainly used for political prisoners during the war (soviet POWS, homosexuals, “work shy” people…), but eventually became the waiting ground for jews before death marches towards extermination camps such as auschwitz. as the nazis began their retreat from the east, any survivors ended up at sachsenhausen as well, which only further diminished the scarce food supply and worsened already brutal conditions: towards the end of the war, a gas chamber facility that the guards sadistically referred to as “station z” was built (z was the end of the alphabet and also the end of the prisoner’s lives). now instead of making prisoners run marathons everyday for four days in a row to test fake leather shoes or administering the neck shot — the SS would trick the prisoners into thinking they were having their height measured for a medical appointment and then a hidden sniper would shoot them in the back of the neck — they could kill with hydrogen cyanide gas as well. it was seriously messed up stuff.

the actual geometry of sachsenhausen is supposed to invoke terror — it’s an equilateral triangle and they positioned a gunman right in the center where he could shoot anywhere inside the facility. walking around and inside the remaining buildings (most of the barracks were burned down my neo-nazis after israeli prime minister yitzhak rabin visited) really subdues you. i’m very into world war II and i’ve read several books, but just being in a place such as this really makes the experience real. several times i was inside the buildings and actually had the urge to throw up. especially in the pathology building and looking at the autopsy tables where doctor’s examined their specimen after using them as human lab rats. they actually inoculated three kids with a newfound strain of tuberculosis and caused gangrene in others by ripping open their flesh and filing it with infected hay before sewing it up again. i just still can’t understand how any of this was possible. i mean populism, group mentality, you can try to claim ignorance… but really at the base level — how could any human being do something so awful to another human being? it just blows my mind.

we spent a good five hours at sachsenhausen. it was the most disturbing place i’ve ever been to in my entire life, but it was also really really interesting. if i haven’t mentioned it yet, wwii is my favorite period in history. also, sachsenhausen is almost doubly interesting because after the soviets took their part of germany, it was used as a soviet political prisoner camp.

we left sachsenhausen around 3:30 with the group that had left the hotel about an hour later than us. it started to rain on the way back from the concentration camp to the train station, but no one got too wet. on the ride back to berlin, aaditya, summer, and i made plans to grab some sort of sustenance (i had a coffee and delicious cherry tart/coffee cake thing) before hitting up checkpoint charlie again and then heading to the topography of terror which is a museum right above the remains of the headquarters of the gestapo and SS (so basically where the state used to torture dissenters). the museum was packed with info on the nazis rise to power and the creation of the SS police state (if you were wondering, SA is a special unit targeted toward internal dissenters within the nzai party), and after all the reading we’d done at sachsenhausen, we were burned out by the time we made it to the end of the museum. like if you had shown me another word, i wouldn’t have been able to read it. we saw daniela and matt on our way to the front door and chatted for a bit about what they’d done that day. invited them to dinner as well since a large group of us were planning to eat at the oldest biergarten in berlin.

these randos definitely aren’t real. but people were paying to take photos with them anyways #touristtrap but really i almost bought an ich ein ben berliner shirt so who am i kidding?

after we emerged from the museum, we decided to walk more along the longest remaining stretch of the berlin wall in it’s original place.

the topography of terror exhibit is inside the left building. you can see the foundations of the initial building before it was bombed/torn down on the right along with the berlin wall.

we headed to prater (oldest biergarten), but, since i was dying since i hadn’t really had a real meal since leaving the hotel at 9:30ish, we stopped at a grocery store along the way and i bought strawberries and those really good dark chocolate topped shortbread cookies (like the symphony ones you can get at costco). i actually sat down in the biergarten and ate all of them.

*casually pulls out fresh fruit*

we proceeded to have a wonderful evening, which was great really considering all the pretty heavy stuff i’d witnessed during the day. i had this amazing raspberry wheat beer that actually was so sweet it tasted like soda (but even better than soda!) and then an actual beer. probably drank like a liter i guess since that’s how things are measured here… doesn’t matter though. happiness can be simple: good food, good drinks, good friends. nothing more.

the next day was our last day in berlin. i woke up pretty early to go for a run through tiergarten (saw no naked men this time), but then ended up making it past brandenburg gate (so so glad i finally got to see it from the front) and all the way to museum island (fyi, that’s 7 miles straight shot) on the way out and then got lost on public transport coming back. turns out when you don’t have a working phone, you really do learn how to read a subway :3 besides the subway debacle, i also tripped and took a tumble while trying to run to the pergamon. i fell, swore very loudly, and disturbed the general peace of a german 8 am morning. so all in all a great morning filled with incompetency.

images that should prove i went on the most epic run of my entire life.

i got back to the hotel and had all of 15 minutes to shower before we were supposed to be out of our rooms. but i also kind of lucked out since pansy and i were in 101, which was the room closest to the front desk/entrance vestibule so everyone put their bags in our room as a waiting ground and therefore i had a little bit more time to get ready and be not a gross human being. unfortunately though, i got back so late that i had to skip breakfast. but then the bakery across the street rescued me with some sort of streudel and a chocolate covered marble bundt cake. i love how dessert for breakfast is even more acceptable here than in the U.S.

then, kyle, phil, pansy, and i went to the olympiastadon which was also pretty epic. it’s incredible how hitler was able to trick so many people into thinking how great he was with all the pomp of the 1936 olympics. i read boys in the boat this past semester and seeing all this stuff that was like straight out of the book was honestly incredible. we also got to see the swimming pool, but even though i wanted to put my feet in or at least touch it, we couldn’t figure out how to approach it and just ended up watching a guy diving off of the 10 m platform. he was really good, but also such a primadonna. like these kids jumped in off the 1 m and were playing and he stopped mid-approach and looked disgusted/stared them down until a lifeguard yelled at them because his glassy surface to dive into was compromised or something like that.

after the olympic stadium, we all went out for one last german beer and one last german meal. lizzy joined us as well. we went to a place nearby kadewe so we could go in and snag some dessert from the top floor after we were finished. i got coconut, dark chocolate, and strawberry ice cream. everything was amazing and we all left feeling very full and very happy.

we went back to the hotel early because my simulation group had our harvard business case presentation the next morning and kyle and i hadn’t read it yet… so we planned on doing work until like 4 since we had a 6:20 flight but then the lady at the front told us we might not make it to schonefield in time if we waited that long so then we left and got a taxi and kyle and i speed-read our 22 page case on joint venture attempts between wyoff and CLQ as our driver sped to the airport.

schonefeld was the most budget airport ever. like they had no outlets and no seats. it was kind of funny how bad it was. (for all its downsides, schonefeld did have a burger king :3) legit so glad we went with a cab and didn’t take public transit though… martha and alex left the hotel about an hour before we did and then we saw them emerge from a shady unmarked door about 20 minutes after we’d settled down to continue working on our project.

the rest of the group eventually made it there and then we had to board and josh, phil, kyle, and i sat near each other on the plane but it didn’t really matter since they all fell asleep and i was the only one working on the powerpoint but then josh woke up and somehow had this brilliant multi-layered prisoner’s dilemma interactive game figured out that related perfectly to our business case so i give him all the credit in the world.

after misleading people to a nonexistent bus stop, we got home home kind of late and then worked more on our project, then around 11:30 we all decided we just couldn’t do it anymore and went to bed (or rather i did, who knows what the boys did… we made plans to meet up before class at 7 to finish it. and that all worked out).

so yeah… that was berlin. i loved it. i’m going to go back. it was a bit sad that i had this project and midterm cooking on the back burner (which i had to fix/write all of the next afternoon even though i was still exhausted from berlin and throwing together our business case project) so it’s not like i was completely free and fluttering away. (especially since our toothpaste simulation got reset because we built our plant the first round — even though it says that’s permissible in the direction guide — and apparently that’s an unfair advantage so now we have to redo like four weeks of work. rip.)

the week was short since we flew back from berlin monday night and only really had two and a half days of school because martha got sick on wednesday night and didn’t come in on thursday an alex set us free after his class. still… it was fairly hectic, what with preparing for the presentation and turning in the midterm essays that had initially been due before berlin (why is it that whenever you get an extension you are happy at first but then realize as you’re writing whatever you were supposed to already have done last minute that you would give anything to have already suffered and finished it???). we also had one really late night when we went to roland bleckman, some german business man’s house, and ate a massive dinner (hummus among-us) along with listening to a two hour presentation on german mittelstand, which is a small/medium enterprise sustainable-practice business attitude which is apparently the lifeblood of the german economy. the talk was very good, but incredibly detailed. like we literally spent 40 minutes on one slide which got kind of monotonous until phil’s chair broke from underneath him and we all died laughing.

on the way back, while we were waiting for the bus, aaditya really really had to pee so he hoped a fence thinking he was going to a park or other open space but then like three seconds later he was scrambling back over repeating “it’s a house. it’s a house. it’s a house” and i just died laughing.

the next day i left for rome, but my lips are sealed until my next post. good day and stay tuned!

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