I have been to Europe before, but I never made it to Germany. But having made a German friend the last time I lived in Ireland in 2003, the invitation had always been open to come for a visit. And what a visit! Did I mention my German friend works in the hotel industry and hooked us up with a reserved tour of the Reichstag, a hop on-hop off bus tour, a boat tour, and dinner reservations at the TV Tower? When I say we did Berlin, we DID Berlin, (Thanks, Nicole!) complete with beer gardens, audio guides, memorials, all sorts of different sausages, even Russian pancakes, and lovely evenings with Germans! (Oh, and when I say “we” I mean me, Mike, and Danielle @dromeodromeo who was traveling from Hamburg!) I fell in love with that city and I learned so much. I have to say the tour of the Reichstag still remains one of my top three experiences so far. The audio guide was very interesting and takes you through the new glass dome of the Reichstag which has a 360 degrees view of Berlin. The guide has senses in it that tell you when to stop and look out at certain buildings or monuments and then it tells you the history. The tour was very well done and the architecture is very inspired. The Germans call the glass dome of the Reichstag the "heart of democracy"
Nicole and I met while working in a tiny sandwich shop in Caherciveen, Ireland back in 2003. We reconnected years later via Facebook. She and another friend came and visited Mike and I in 2010. Though we have not seen each other much, we have now known each other for ten years. She is the kind of friend that always says something that makes me think. My favorite part of my Berlin trip was talking about our respective countries. From her experiences and her understanding of America seen through a European lens, her observations of the country were very conflicted. She brought up the Janet Jackson Nipple/Superbowl incident as one example. She was so surprised about the country’s reaction especially when most of
|More Walls to Come Down (Berlin Wall)|
We also talked about the Berlin Wall. Having just been a child in East Berlin when the wall came down, she did not have many memories of the division or reunification. I wondered if like my Reagan-era generation who grew up being told we could be and do anything, if somehow though she had no memories of this piece of history, if a footprint had still be left on her perspective of life. As you Americans, we were told we should follow our dreams and then grow up and get married and buy a home. What is a man with out his homestead? A woman without her family AND her career? And I watched so many of my friends, as well as myself, over the last decade struggle with these distortions about what we “deserve.” Where as she grew up acknowledging that certain things were out of reach so why long for it? I had a very wise woman once say to me, if you want your life to have meaning, stop looking for it.
Later that night, we ran into an old friend from Ireland (her ex boyfriend) and joined he and his friend at a pub and the night could not have been better if we planned it, certainly not better if we were looking for it.
Of all the places we saw in Germany, my favorite thing was spending time with Nicole (and Chris!) which left me with so much to think about. Germans are smart and they are no bullshit and she is no exception. I will miss Berlin, but my friend even more.