Tuesday, August 12, 2008

a mini vacation

well first off this week has been pretty good. I had a good long phone call last week. Some one from church called me and we talked for 4 hours!! Her name is KC and we just seemed to click. She is now in the hospital having her 3rd child!

so this weekend we went on a mini vacation. We have 4 days left on our train travel pass and have to use them by the 20th. We decided to go to Berlin. We left on Friday morning and arrived after 9pm. We went to bed knowing we were getting up at 9. When we were at the train station in Brussels with 20 min left to our train it was raining. Dave all of a sudden realized that he didn't pack any shirts. I couldn't believe it! Here I am wanting to buy a new shirt or something (too expensive and dont fit the same)and he doesn't but we now had to find something. On the way to the hotel I noticed a store for big men. But Dave was wearing a quick dry one so we rinsed it and it dried over night.

Saturday morning we left the hotel in search of food. The breakfast at the hotel was 17E. Thats very expensive so we got sandwiches and headed off to a meeting point. We were taking the free tour offered by New Europe Tours. We have taken the tours offered by them in Amsterdam and Paris. It was a very good tour taking us to many places important to the history of the city. Heres a list of the places that we visited:
Brandenburg gate
Jewish Memorial
Berlin wall (by the section that hides WW2 history)
Checkpoint Charlie
some different squares
the square where the Nazis had their book burning
a war memorial representing all boys lost in war
Berliner Dome
and ended our tour on the Museum island.

We went back to the hotel and stopped at the store and got Dave a new shirt on the way. We left the hotel after a brief rest and headed for a canal cruise. it was a nice hour to spend. After the tour we took a bike taxi to the Reichstag. Its the parliament building. It was free but had an hour or more wait to get in. Its a big dome that you can go up to the top and get a view of the city. The city doesn't have a great skyline. This is where I should mention that this city is more like an American/ Canadian city then any other we have been in. This is due to the war where 95% was flattened.

We walked over to the main train station and remembered seeing sand sculptures on our canal trip. We decided to go over and see what that was about. We didn't see where to pay but we did see prices. no one stopped us from walking in and looking around. 10E each not spent! There was some cool ones and others we just didn't understand. Too artsy!
Then it was home to sleep!

On Sunday we went to the same meeting place to go on a tour of a concentration camp: "Just outside the city limits stands a reminder of the darkest days of Berlin’s history: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Built in 1936 by slave laborers, Sachsenhausen became the model that all other camps followed. It was a school of brutality, training guards for positions in other camps. By the end of WWII, over 50,000 people had died there.

Sachsenhausen’s tragic history continued from 1945 to 1950 when the new Communist occupiers secretly followed the Nazis' footsteps and used the camp to detain political enemies. Thousands more perished during this period.

Visiting the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial is one of the most important things you can do on your visit to Berlin. During our six hour tour, we tell the story of Sachsenhausen’s infamous history with the sensitivity needed to examine how something as horrible as the Holocaust could have happened."

that was a very sobering and tiring day. It rained the whole day and made it even more real. After we made it back to the square near our hotel we decided to go to a movie. We went to the theater in the square and discovered that all English movies are at the sony center about 20 min away on subway. After a rest at the hotel we headed out the watch the movie one that we were wiling to watch - the 3rd Mummy movie.

After the movie we walked back to the Brandenburg gate and then went home via subway.

Our hotel was the Park Inn at Alexanderplatz. You should look it up and see the pics of the rooms. I will post some too. The shower is all glass and is in your room. To make it look more spacious they do not have a separate bathroom. so it goes (starting from window to the door) chair, side table, bed, side table, curtain (to pull around the "bathroom") sink, glass shower, toilet. The toilet is behind a glass wall and has a door. The glass is also frosted so you cant see everything- but its close enough. and then its the hallway. i forgot to take a pic of the chairs and table at the end of the room but i do have a pic of the kind of bathroom I'm talking about.

Monday morning we got up and had a bagel at Dunkin' Donuts! Its been a long time since we have had a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast. We then walked to the fountain that Andrea told us to go to . We were there for almost 45 min and it didn't get turned on. We had to return to our room to check out and catch our train. The fountains apparently start at 10 am for anyone who wants to get an early look at them. Our hotel is also by the TV tower. This looks like an early attempt at the CN tower that just didnt work. But we could see that from our hotel room.

So we are home and have to do some laundry- but Dave doesn't since he still has shirts!
We discovered after booking our holiday that this coming weekend is a Long weekend with the Friday off. So Dave only has 3 days of work. the poor boy!
We have 2 more days on our train tickets and are trying to figure out that to this weekend since it expires on the 20th.
any suggestions?


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