Sunday, 3/20/2011 Mission: Bear-lin!

Our fourth day started out the same as the third with breakfast (this time scrambled eggs, fried onions, and fried bacon bits were served) at the hostel. We then gathered on the bus, however, this time we went on our very own Anger Bus (is it a bus, or is it a large, touristy-looking van?) with our very own tour guide, Kevin Kennedy. Kevin was very well versed in his Berlin history and shared his many facts and stories with us—all in German. I am glad we are getting so much exposure to the native language here, even with one week to spare. That’s definitely the way to learn a language! We even speak German to each other in normal conversation quite frequently.

Kevin took us around Berlin in our little Anger Bus, so we had the opportunity to see a lot of Berlin (it’s huge!). Berlin is larger than NYC, and has more bridges than Venice! The group had a 30-minute stretch and exploration break when our bus stopped near the Holocaust memorial, Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate), and site of Hitler’s bunk where he committed suicide. We toured more of the city riding around on our little bus, and got out again for ten minutes at the famous Checkpoint Charlie for a photo opp., then again near a section of the Berliner Mauer East Side Gallery where a section of the wall has been converted to a different murals showcasing life in and ideas regarding East Berlin.

Our final stop for the day in Berlin was at the DDR museum and restaurant. The restaurant’s menu offers food that was eaten in East Germany. Although the food probably did not taste the same as it did back then (the restaurant needs to attract customers and not scare them away, after all), we got an idea of the types of foods frequently eaten in the DDR. For instance, I order a Vita-Cola (the first cola drink in the DDR/GDR), Solijanka (the most popular soup in the DDR, and originally a Russian invention), and the buttered noodles/pasta with sugar (a popular dish with the children).

For a final hoorah we got a guided tour of the DDR museum (you guessed it—auf Deutsch) from our tour guide Thomas. It was a very interactive museum—very hands-on—and quite informative. The museum was packed, but on a good (empty) day I am sure I could spend a whole afternoon or day their just reading every piece of information and soaking it all in. But such is with every museum…

As I write this, we are preparing for our homestays (just for dinner). We are not quite sure what to expect, but are excited, nonetheless!…

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