One of my life goals is to travel the world. So far, I have only been out of the country once and, before meeting the boyfriend who lives in New York City, hadn't been on a plane since the 5th grade. I'm not an avid traveler, mostly because my budget barely allows for changing rooms, but I did get the chance to study abroad for 2 weeks last summer.
I was lucky enough to come across a billboard in the Weimer basement last year about a photojournalism course taught by professor John Freeman in Berlin.I had never taken a photo class, nor had I ever considered taking a photo class, but the ad was extremely convincing. After about 100 extra shifts at McAlister's Deli, I was in Berlin snapping away.
I think the best part of the trip was the assignment we were given: meet someone who lives in Berlin and document their life. The project forced each of us to creatively explore Berlin by giving the city a human face. It was an experience I'll probably never forget, even after I travel the rest of the world.
If you're ever in Berlin...
"Berlin is poor, but it's sexy," as Mayor Klaus Wowereit so famously put it. The city may have one of the darkest histories, but it is home to a unique and vibrant culture, unlike that of the rest of Germany and the world. There are a few places in the city you must visit if you get the chance.
- Kunsthaus Tacheles
- Fat Tire Bike Tours
- Anywhere that serves beer
This place was definitely the coolest place I've ever been. The building is a former department store that is now home to an art center and night club. Huge murals and layers of colorful grafitti cover every inch of the walls, and rooms are filled with talented painters, sculptors, performers and musicians exhibiting and selling their art. According to wikipedia, Tacheles opened in East Berlin after the wall fell in 1990.
Berlin sits atop an ancient swamp, which provides the perfect no-hill environment for a bike tour. Fat Tire has locations in Barcelona, Paris and London as well as Berlin, and offers full city tours to all of the major landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate, the Memorial to the Murdered European Jews, Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall and more. Because of Berlin's intense history, the best thing to do is to take a tour of everything and then go back to the places that really interested you. Fat Tire also offers fascinating, more specific tours of the Nazi Germany sites as well as the Cold War sites. You can find them in Alexanderplatz, at the base of the TV tower.
You must experience German beer! My favorite was the Berliner Weisse, a beer brewed exclusively in and around Berlin that is served with a shot of flavored syrup (rasberry, lemon or woodruf). It's basically soda, but made out of beer. I mean, could it get any better? While I was there my goal was to try as many different beers as possible, which was pretty easy considering how nonchalant beer drinking is in Germany. Only the Irish and the Czechs drink more than the Germans, according to wikipedia. By the end of the trip, I had taken a liking to "altbier," a darker beer that has a crisp taste. Here is a photo of me enjoying an authentic German meal and an ice cold altbier on one of my last days in Berlin.