5 things: Berlin

I was only lucky enough to hang out in Berlin for a few days. (a few very, very, very cold days.) so I’m not so sure I have much to offer if you’re wondering what to see and do. I’m not your girl for that. in fact, I’m the girl who made it to Checkpoint Charlie and walked the wrong way, never turning around to see the actual (which is a replica) wooden shed. or the museum. so, no. I’m not going to give you tips on what to see. because you’ll likely see all that stuff anyway. but I will say this:

don’t buy new shoes and then wear them all day. yes. I did this. I went to Berlin with only a few goals, and one was to buy new boots. I wanted tough-looking, black combat boots. I ended up with a pair of leather boots that, depending on what type of light you’re standing in, are either blue or green. or dark gray. they are very cool and, in full disclosure, I bought them in Ratzeburg. not Berlin. but it was my decision to wear them while walking for HOURS around Berlin that was my downfall. nothing hurt while I was walking. on cobblestone. for HOURS. but when I took the boots off later that night, my Fred Flinstone feet were throbbing in front of my eyes. swollen toes. bruised calf and ankle. I was a mess. so yeah. buy the boots. break them in slowly. and on cobblestone is probably not the best option. even if they are so cute you have to wear them.

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street art is an understatement. I am a fan. I am a huge fan. I could not walk more than a few feet before stopping to shoot more street art. it’s not graffiti. it’s not simply some kid tagging his initials on a bridge (though there is that as well). there are full murals. there is thought behind most of the colorful displays. I’ve oohed and aahed over street art in cities from Kosice, Slovakia to Brooklyn, New York. but this was beyond anything I’ve seen. it was a highlight of my trip, for sure. I couldn’t get enough. we even kinda sorta trespassed into this abandoned-looking building and found more. surprise!

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there really was a wall (two, actually) and I stood on it. when the Berlin Wall fell, I remember being so interested in it … to the point of obsession. I cried while watching the news. we talked about it in school. my parents ordered a piece of the wall and when it came in the mail, I could hardly contain myself. so when news came that I’d be traveling to Berlin for my first visit to Germany, I knew what I had to do. I had to touch the wall. and I did. and it was surreal. and beautiful. and then I stood outside of the Brandenburg Gate, on a spot on the street made of bricks. those bricks mark the exact spot where the wall once stood, dividing a city and countless families and friends. and I stood there. just for a second, before the traffic came.

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(again with the boots)

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This place is for real. I would be doing a great disservice if I didn’t give a shout-out to the best restaurant in the city: Gasthaus Alt Wien. disclaimer: it’s owned and run by my lovely sister-in-law and her partner, who has to be the best chef in town. his schnitzel will knock you off your rocker. and where I’m from, that’s a damn good thing. and don’t miss the gulasch. and the kaiserschmarrn. geezus. do yourself a favor and have chef Fred make you the kaiserschmarrn. then let me know how you like it. no, you’ll love it. mmmmm …

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I can’t understand a thing. or can I? I’m sitting here, surrounded by family and their friends, who are all speaking in German, and I have no clue. but then, suddenly, a familiar word. essen. OK. food. eat. yes. I mean: ja. this is good. fleisch. meat. yes. more food. sure. ja. then they say some more stuff that is confusing. and it’s always intermixed with genau. genau. genau. they use this word a ton. I don’t think they realize how often. it might be as often as Americans say “awesome.” or not. that’s a lot. that’s a crazy lot, actually. it’s awesome that they say genau so often. AWESOME.

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(I understand this … and would agree)

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and one more: just because. OK. maybe I do have a tip on where to go. because … another disclaimer … when we set out to find the Checkpoint Charlie museum and didn’t, we actually found another museum. a much better museum, I’d venture to guess. so, I change my mind. I do have a suggestion for where to go. go here. go to the Jewish Museum Berlin.

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