If there was a single city I could say I felt I didn't explore efficiently, it would definitely be Berlin. I joined a group of friends who had just begun to undertake the incredible task of visiting 11 countries in 13 days. Berlin was their second stop after Munich, and in an effort to add to my country tally I joined them on their German adventure.
Much of the city's historical structure were destroyed as a result of heavy bombing during WWII, leaving a decent portion of the city's architectural landscape dominated by brutalist and functional modern artchitecture. Brandenburg Gate in Pariser Platz was an obvious and stunning exception. It's no wonder it serves as an essential trademark for the nation.
Equally as stunning in its design, much more moving in its intent, was the Holocaust Memorial. The systematic rise and fall of the cement monoliths were meant to invoke "an uneasy sense of order," an elegant yet slightly disturbing reference to a tragic past.
I guess it turned out our self-guided tour of the city was primarily fueled by its architectural landscape. We were supposed to visit the Reichstag dome, but me being me, I booked our tickets for the evening after we were scheduled to leave! And despite being in yet another new and unfamiliar environment, I found the familiar food to be sort of comforting. Growing up with a grandmother with a penchant for German recipes, I realized I've come to associate schnitzels and spaetzle with my childhood, to a certain extent. I'm sure, as I was filling my plate with a heaping spoonful of homemade spaetzle and gravy, I never would have guessed I'd been eating a plate of the same stuff on a sidewalk in Germany.
Next up: Part II