I promised my family that I would carefully document my recent trip to Germany and I am happy to say that I followed through with my promise! Each day in Germany, I wrote an e-journal so I wouldn’t forget everything I did. I also (much to poor Tori’s frustration) carefully photo documented EVERYTHING…which literally led to her taking pictures of me taking pictures just so she could show me what she spent the trip watching!
Well, I have plenty (well over 1000) gorgeous pictures, especially as the trip went on to the country, that I have to sort through, and then will choose my favorites for posting here! My full set of pictures will be on my personal picture website so if you would like the link to that, just shoot me an email. I will go day by day, all seven of them, and share my journal and favorite pictures. So enjoy! I would love to hear your thoughts so please comment and let me know what you are thinking!! Here it goes…
Day 1, June 18/19, 2008
I am writing this after my first time sleeping after over 36 hours of being awake! Feeling much better than I did last night! After flying from San Antonio to Dallas (1 hr) I met up with Tori, where we hopped our big American Airlines jet to London at about 6pm (9hrs). They sure have done a lot to improve the entertainment opportunities on those long flights because I hardly tapped into the 30 lbs of magazines & books that I brought to keep me busy. Each seat had their own TV and its own controller so we could watch movies, tv show episodes and even play video games on the remote that popped out of the seat and was used sideways (wii style) which was very helpful! I watched two movies, a few episodes of the office and caught up on my US gossip and before I knew it, we were touching down at Heathrow. My strategy was not to sleep so I would be able to get a good night’s sleep the first night that I could be in a real bed. Since we were flying into a time zone that was 6 hours ahead we flew through the darkness for only a couple of hours and by the time we landed it was bright and sunny, 8am London time but 2am CST. Sun really does wonders for the brain because I really had no trouble staying awake once I got to London. The Starbucks helped. I was amazed at the efficient use of vertical space as we flew into London. The tall row houses were visually interesting and looked so much cooler than any US housing. Heathrow was the nicest airport I have ever been to. It was nicer than any mall I have seen in years. Stocked full of Prada, Coach, Ted Baker and many other fancy stores; it really was an upscale shopping center. I was amazed at how the merchandise was just sitting on display very close to the entrance to the store and not attached with wires to a table. You would never see a Prada bag worth a thousand dollars anywhere near the entrance to a store in America, especially if it was on display in an airport. My favorite new item of the day was a huge line of Tiffany Sunglasses was debuting. I haven’t seen these in the US but there was a gigantic display with about 50 pairs of new glasses with the obnoxious Tiffany bling on the sides. Not a huge fan of Tiffany, I thought the line was just okay. I am sure Americans will jump on this bandwagon as soon as it hits the US…just watch and see!
We flew from London to Berlin (2h) albeit delayed about two hours. When flying into Berlin there were a ton of windmills, much like those that are in California. Huge multistory energy generators were all over the countryside.
The baggage area was SO efficient and was right outside the gate we landed. We hopped a bus with all the other Bayer people to the Hotel and had a tour guide talking us through some history of Berlin. We arrived at the hotel at about 3:45p local time, which is 7 hours ahead of US CST. We had 45 minutes to get both of us showered and dressed for a cocktail/dinner party to make it for the 4:30 sightseeing bus tour which was happening before the dinner. We made it! Two girls, ironed, showered and all dressed up in 45 minutes! NICE! My flat iron won’t work here (none of my teammates’ will!) so the hair situation is going to be interesting.
The sightseeing tour went through the history of the city and to many landmarks. Most of the story was holding up a binder with pictures saying “this is what USED to be here” since the whole city was virtually blown up during the world war. Most things here are new. Some buildings are very intricately designed and most are very modern, almost Scandinavian in design style. I thought it was especially weird that every tree in the city was numbered with a little white tag. Here are some pictures from the bus on the sightseeing tour:
[Bebelplatz, site of the 1933 Jewish Book Burning by the Nazis. All literature written by Jews was burned here and now there is a memorial for the lost art. It kind of seems wrong that we are smiling…but this was taken before we knew what happened here.]
[Bebelplatz Memorial-this is where the books were burned. What you see here is a reflection on a piece of glass and below the glass are empty white bookcases that symbolize the loss of the literature. At night, a light shines up through the glass and from anywhere on the square it looks like there is a small fire coming from below.]
Cocktails were on a rooftop overlooking the whole city. It was hard to find a place to take a picture that did not have a crane in the background since there is so much construction going on.
Wait staff hand passed beer “with syrup” which were tinted green and pink. One tasted like Juicy fruit gum and the pink tasted very floral, but was amazingly good.
After a long day (nearly 36 hours awake) we made it back to the Berlin Marriott (beautiful!!) and crashed. No trouble sleeping here! Gathered across the street in an open grassy are were about 300 people (hovering under umbrellas when the sprinkles picked up) watching the Germany vs. Portugal soccer game. We sure knew when Germany scored, sheesh! We could hear the game (broadcast on loud speakers & projected on a big screen) with our windows shut! Tommy was at home watching it on TV and really wishing he was across the street with all the enthusiastic Germans drinking beer in the beer garden. It was really neat to see how much they get into it here!