Berlin is absolutely loaded with historical sites. The downtown area alone is littered with monuments and memorials spanning both recent and hundreds of years old. What's the best way to see all of these sites with only a limited amount of time? A scavenger hunt, of course! Yesterday morning, we split the group up until teams of two and had them take pictures with the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, the Victory Column, the German Chancellery, House of World Cultures (Haus der Kulturen der Welt), the American Embassy, and a variety of local cultural items (public transportation, a phone booth, an I <3 Berlin sticker, etc.). Our winners, Kobalt and Luke, received an extra 10 Euro for their lunch stipend. Congratulations guys!
The scavenger hunt began after we took a short walk through the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, a famous sculpture-cum-memorial, which remembered the victims of the Holocaust. After the hunt, we met at the downtown square, Potsdamer Platz, and had lunch. For the afternoon, we walked back down the main boulevard leading to Brandenburg Gate, Unter den Linden, and got to see the famous war memorial, Neue Wache, and the splendidly ornate Berlin Cathedral. Our final stop for the day was the DDR Museum, examining what life was like under Communism in East Berlin (and East Germany in general). It is one of the most interactive museums in the world: Complete with cars that were used at the time, a sample prison cell, many quiz games (involving the national anthem, jobs, home life, etc.), and even an entire model apartment of an East Berliner. After the museum, we headed to dinner at Hofbrauhaus, where we were treated to live traditional German music and had a very traditional Bavarian meal (lots of meat and potatoes!).
Today, we were all feeling pretty tired after our intense excursions for the past few days (and honestly the past few weeks!). So we started out the day relatively casually: We still began with a historical site, Checkpoint Charlie (the checkpoint where the Americans occupying West Berlin after World War II defended the border with Soviet-occupied East Berlin), but then headed to the enormous and iconic Mall of Berlin for some lunch and shopping time. After the mall, some students opted to go to the world-renowned Berlin Zoo, while others returned to the hotel for some relaxation and time to pack for our next destination. Tonight, we went to Clarchens Ballhaus for dinner, famous for its live music and dancing lessons. We just had dinner (though I offered that students join the dancing if they'd like!), and enjoyed the aesthetics of the restaurant.
Tomorrow we head to Dresden and then on to Prague for our final weekend! Time flies!
To learn more about our Modern Europe Program, click here