Do You Have Tap Water? (Berlin Adventures)

Andrea Anderson
June 23, 2015

“Do you have tap water?”

“Well we do have to wash things sometimes so…”

That’s the sassy and hilarious response we received from the waitress when we tried to get free water during our first meal in Germany, if that’s any indication of our overall competency in Europe. My friends and I have affectionately named our experience and future band “The Struggle Bikes.” It’s a play on the expression “riding the struggle bus,” but since we ride bikes in Amsterdam, struggle biking seems more fitting.

This weekend we had the opportunity to go to Berlin with the program. I really liked Berlin. It is such a cool mix of city, which felt comfortable and familiar, and history, which you could feel so strongly as you walked around the city. We left Thursday after class and took the 6 hour train ride there. When we arrived, Kelsey, Cassie, Barb, and I were extremely hungy so we dropped our stuff off at the hostel and immediately went searching for food. After going back and forth on the same street multiple times and passing the same guys each time who probably thought we were so lost, we finally chose a little Middle Eastern place that ended up being absolutely delicious. And our waitress, although sassy, was super nice. Plus, we never mind a little sass! And thus began our weekend in Berlin, otherwise known as the weekend where we ate as many different types of food as possible.

On Friday, we started off the morning by going to the Gemäldegalerie Museum. It was a beautiful museum with tons of paintings from different artists, although I’m not sure how long I can look at depictions of the birth of Jesus before I get a little bored. But overall, there was a lot of beautiful artwork and I obviously made sure to get pictures of the paintings with strong female subjects in them, because ya know, what else would I care about?

After the museum, we went to this little restaurant for lunch that specialized in healthy foods. It was delicious. We then had free time so obviously we went to what is known as one of the most famous chocolate stores in Berlin, Fassbender & Rausch. I did of course buy some, and yes, it was delicious. Afterwards, the entire group did a 5 hour bike tour of the city. Even though it was pouring rain for half of the bike ride, it was still so cool to be able to explore the city on the vehicles we’d come to love. It was such a great way to be able to see various important Berlin artifacts and places, although I wish I could’ve spent more time at some of them. Some of the highlights included seeing the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, Hitler’s Bunker, the Luftwaffe Ministry, and Reichstag. One of the places we stopped at that really stayed with me was the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe. When it was originally constructed it had been criticized for being too ugly of a memorial to honor those who were murdered in the Holocaust, but the depth of the memorial (literally and figuratively) is truly stunning. The memorial is made up of a bunch of concrete blocks, all of different heights, and although it all looks symmetrical from afar, as you walk around and towards the center, you find yourself sinking further and further down as the blocks begin to unexpectedly tower over you. It doesn’t feel claustrophobic or hopeless though as you can always see through to the end or see light shining through. It’s a wonderful place to make you think and reflect. Midway through the bike tour, we stopped at the famous beer garden, Tiergarten Park, to grab some traditional German food, which definitely made biking in the rain slightly more bearable.

The next day, we started off the morning by visiting the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Of course it was incredibly emotional and moving, but it was a really good experience. Even though I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable about the Holocaust (as a Jew, it’s really talked about a lot growing up), I still felt like I learned so much about groups that aren’t usually as talked about, like prisoners of war and homosexuals who were also imprisoned. I found out that Martin Niemöller, the author of my favorite poem about the Holocaust, was imprisoned in this camp, which was an interesting tidbit to learn. While it’s an extremely famous poem, the exact words are unknown and have been debated over and over again. Below is one version, from a plaque at the New Jersey County Human Relations Commission. As someone who wants to work in the realm of social justice someday, this poem is incredibly poignant to me and reminds us that we must speak out against injustices, even if those injustices don’t directly affect us.

After the concentration camp, we took some time to recuperate and recharge, before going to dinner at this cute little French place that we found. The restaurant was owned by a Frenchman and the menu changed every day. Every day, there was a choice of 3 menus, each which had 3 courses on it. You had to pick one of the menus and you couldn’t mix and match. It was definitely an interesting experience as we got a taste of some authentic French food, enjoyed the praises of the owner who kept calling us “belles femmes,” and amused ourselves with my (awful) French communication with the owner.

The next day was our last day in Berlin. We went to the Mauerpark flea market where, lo and behold, the only money I spent was on food. But to be fair, it was a vegetarian paradise which never happens. Almost every booth had vegetarian or vegan options, and half the booths were only vegetarian or vegan. And there were so many different types of foods present! I’d never had so many options in my life (since becoming a vegetarian that is) and I was ecstatic. I ended up getting Indian food for lunch and Korean food to go for dinner on the train. It was also a really cool location because just above the flea market was a hill overlooking the city with swings and graffiti art that was just gorgeous, and felt like the perfect end to my weekend in Berlin. And thus ended my trip to Berlin and a weekend of food bliss. 

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Andrea Anderson

<p>A rising senior double major in Politics &amp; International Affairs and Theatre, with a minor in Women&#39;s Gender, &amp; Sexuality Studies, Andrea Anderson is passionate about social justice, exploring the world through different lenses, and tea. Though she may come across as shy and timid at first, this 4&#39;10&quot; girl never backs down from a feminist debate and she is is as willing to try something new as she is inclined to sit back with a glass of wine and an episode of Gilmore Girls. Her favorite things in life include hugs, Harry Potter, and Indian food, and she is so so excited to explore the beautiful culture of Amsterdam this summer.</p>

Term:
2015 Summer 1, 2015 Summer 2
Home university:
Wake Forest University
Major:
Political Science
Theatre Arts
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