On Friday the 16th, we took our 5 hour bus ride to the capital of Berlin, traveling through numerous checkpoints that separated east and west Germany just 30 years ago. Upon our arrival at the hotel (jugend hostel), we walked around the neighboring part of the city. First we explored the 7 floors of the KaDeWe, fully called the Kaufhaus des Westens, which was actually one of the many infrastructures used to attract east Berliners to the west. We also enjoyed the beautiful details and structure of the bombed-out Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church museum (Ged├Ąchtniskirche), and the current service church next door. Along the walk to the Ubahn station, we passed a few markings of where the Berlin Wall used to separate the capital. We took the Ubahn to Potsdamer Platz, one of the 3 centers of the city. Here we experienced the Holocaust Memorial, Brandenburg Gate, and Reichstag building. The Holocaust Memorial was created by American architect Peter Eisenman in 2005. Named the “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe”, his image of gray, granite pillars of varying heights and floor depth illustrates the immensity and gravity of Germany’s history while provoking the viewers’ empathy of grief and recovery. At the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor), we practiced our tourism taking pictures in front of the famous columns while listening to one of the many festivals in swing during the summer. We finished our landmark sightseeing at the capital building–the Reichstag–and the center of German democracy. Inside the building at the terrace lies a massive glass dome. Within this dome is a cone of mirrors reflecting the panorama, and winding ramps which we took up to the viewing platform. Despite the German summer rain, we were able to watch the sun go down from the top terrace of the capital building.

~ Abby Feigenbaum