Rarely can I successfully pull off a planned surprise … this is because I get so excited about what I am planning that I usually end up “spilling the beans” (as we say in New England). This time though I didn’t (it did help that the two people that I was trying to surprise live in the USA and I am currently living in Germany, but I digress) Two weeks ago now my sister and mom landed in Hamburg, Germany. Currently living in Berlin I told them that I could not be in Hamburg until Friday afternoon; of course this was not the case. And it was a successful tear-filled surprise when we saw each other again for the first time in six months right outside of Hamburg. With my cousin’s help my sister met me at the train station and jumped right out of the car when she saw who was nearing, (it was me)! It was such a wonderful feeling to be back in my mom and sister’s arms again, able to hug them and talk and laugh together!
The past two weeks have been wonderful together! While we enjoyed running all over Berlin, Hamburg, Luneburg and nearby villages… it is not what we did and saw that was most important to me. What meant the most to me was simply being together, talking, smiling, laughing, walking… all together =) I am very thankful for technology such as Skype, Whatsapp, Facetime, iMessage and the list goes on… all of which help to keep the distance between myself and those that I love that are not currently near me feeling smaller. The thing is though, that seeing someone on Skype and seeing them in person is just not the same. While I love the technology of today, I love the simple things that come with just being together in person with those that I love.
I won’t leave you wondering though about some of our Germany adventures…
During our first weekend together here in Germany we went to visit our cousin, Danny and his family, who my mom and sister had not seen for several years and his children who they had not yet met. It was a heart-warming moment to see them all meeting again or for the first time. We also went to the salu to go swimming and to enjoy the sauna, we ventured up the water tower in Luneburg and enjoyed time together again.
At this point I had to return to Berlin for a whirlwind three days of studying and exams, after which completing I turned right around to Hamburg to be with my mom and sister again. During the next few days we went to a Tanzt Abend on the Reeperbahn and a cd-release party concert in Hamburg.
This of course was a ton of fun, as we danced the night away together to great live music for two nights in a row. Late nights/early mornings (depending on how you look at it) is always fun and exhausting.
Saturday night we boarded a train to Berlin. Now it was my turn to be tour guide as I planned a whirl-wind of a time in Berlin with my mom and sister. We were there for 4 days but did enough to have filled up a week. Being in Berlin with my mom was an incredible experience. For her, Berlin was completely different because the last time she was there, there was a wall separating east from west. Now differences between the two sections of the city can still be seen and felt, but of course not as strongly as once was. For me though, and anyone born past the time of division, it is all history, being in Berlin provides me with more insight and more meaning to what I learn, but seeing my mom react as we walked past remaining portions of the wall or Checkpoint Charlie brought a whole new level of depth and meaning to my understanding of the reality of what took place in there in Berlin.
Areas and items that once stood as symbols of divisions now sell as tourist attractions. Remembering the past, encountering reminders of it is inevitable in Berlin…
here you can see Mickey, my mom, my cousin, and me standing near remaining parts of the Berlin Wall and in a tourist store that highlights the “Ampelmann” which was the crosswalk man who was present for crosswalks only in East Berlin (now found all over Berlin and sold as souvenir items).
Berlin, a huge city with a turbulent history and a colorful flavor that can be found in its culture and people kept the three of us wicked busy the whole time we were there. While there we went to…
Mauerpark, Nordbahnhof (which was a “ghost station” during the Cold War), an intact portion of the Berlin Wall as it was back during the Cold War, the Brandenburger Tor,
the Sony Center near Alexanderplatz (where a peaceful protest was being held for LBGT rights in Russia), the Reichstag, the Holocaust Mahnmal and museum, visited my cousin’s apartment, went to a Mexican restaurant (when in Germany right?!), and visited the remains of the Church of Reconciliation (which was destroyed by the Stasi)… we visited Schloss Charlottenburg (a gorgeous castle in the outer region of Berlin), Checkpoint Charlie, Humboldt Universitat (where the book burning at the beginning of WWII took place), a cathedral, Rittersport world, and of course the Ampelmann souvenir shop had to be visited… We also took the time to see the Sachenhausen concentration camp, the Berliner Dom,
Museum Island, to walk through the Turkish markets and the East Side Gallery, and I must not forget that my mom and sister got to taste their first currywurst from Curry 36 in Kreuzburg! … On our last day in Berlin I showed them where a lot of my daily activities take place… like where I attend university, my favorite doner stand (they had to try that of course!),
and where I often eat lunch. We also walked through the Tiergarten and visited the Victory column and I must not forget to add that everyday included a stop at a pastry shop to taste the delicious pastries that while common in Europe are not easily found near where we live in the USA. Berlin also has bears all over the city, the Berlin Bear… we did not think of the idea to take pictures until two and a half days had passed, but did manage to get a couple pictures of my sweet sister with the bears! As for what we did, that’s a wrap! But like I said it’s not so much what we did that mattered as who we were with: each other!
If you have kept reading through this entire post, thank you! I know it is probably my longest one yet. … you see, we did a lot together.
The thing is though that it is not so much about what we did, but about the time that we spent together, in the same place- sharing in the experiences, laughter and memories!