We visited the Brandenburger Gate the following day. The gate was constructed in 1788 and during the Cold War it stood directly along the line that divided East and West Berlin. Although the gate has a dark history, today it is actually the place of many parties and festivals.

When we arrived at the gate it was early so there were not too many people standing around, however, there were some protesters standing in front of the gate. Their signs were hard to read, but we could catch that they were speaking Spanish and talking about Mexico. We were all a little confused about the protest, but later in the day the protest played a small role in our plans.

After admiring the gate we walked through it to the other side where the Reichstag is located. Originally, we had planned on going up into the dome that sits on top of the building, but the day before we left for vacation their online site said that the dome was closed during our stay in Berlin.

We went as close as we could to the building, most of the area in front is closed off because of security reasons, and took some pictures before deciding to leave. As we were leaving I passed by some of the Reichstag employees and just for fun asked when the Reichstag would open again. To our great surprise they said that it would be opened that very same day at three. We immediately jumped on the opportunity and stood in line to get a reservation time.

Between us and the Reichstag were a number of gates and also a small building which had metal detectors and security.

Dem Deutschen Volke, meaning the German People.

Before touring the Reichstag we had enough time to walk to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, only a short walk from the Reichstag. It was designed by  Peter Eisenman. The memorial is an entire city block full of stones, which start out beneath your feet and slowly grow taller as you move towards the center. The memorial is somewhat like a maze, because once the stones towered over my head it was hard to tell where I was. The ground was uneven and moved up and down like a wave.

After walking the memorial we visited the German Historical Museum, which houses 2,000 years of German history. Although, all that history was a little much to take in one trip, I found it really interesting to see the progression over time of an entire people. Plus, it was always exciting to see things that we had talked about in our classes in Austria.

Once we were finished we still had time for lunch so, just by coincidence we stumbled upon a popular restaurant chain called Vapiano. It is somewhere between a nice restaurant and a fast food joint. Upon entering we were handed a card, which we brought up to our counter of choice (pizza, salad, pasta or dessert) and ordered our food. Once the food was finished all we had to do was place our card on a scanner and they would punch in our order. This was a simple and easy way to get food and you don’t have to pay until after eating. It’s always a plus when the food is really delicious too.

After our October break, we discovered a Vapiano just down the street from where Ari lives and we’ve gone there quite a few times.

It was around four and finally our time to go up the Reichstag. We went a little early and were able to get through security quickly and without hassle. After that we were shuffled inside and then took the biggest elevator I’ve ever seen (it could fit 50 people) up to the roof. The glass dome was really cool to see and a work of art in itself.

Inside the dome the platforms circled around, sloping upwards until they reached the top where there is an opening in the roof and a place for people to sit.

The center support was covered in mirrors.

After a nice wander up the Reichstag we headed to Museum Insel (Island) to try to fit in one last museum. I had really wanted to go to the Pergamonmuseum, which holds the Pergamon Altar, but Ari wanted to go to the Neues Museum, so we decided to split up. However, when I reach the Pergamon it was already closing. Disappointing as it was I still wanted to do something on our last night, so I followed Ari and Addison to the Neues Museum.

We bought our tickets at a little booth about a block away from the museum and then made our way over. We were walking towards the museum, when suddenly a policeman told us that we couldn’t walk towards the museum and we would have to go around. We were all really confused and so we made a wide arch around the many police cars and officers. It was then that we realized that the Neues Museum that was closed. There were police everywhere and they wouldn’t let anyone walk towards the museum.

About fifteen minutes passed when suddenly we saw some movement at the doors to the museum. There were a number of people running around with umbrellas and a few of the cars had driven up to the doors. Eventually, a couple came out of the museum and they stopped to take some pictures and then were ushered into the car. Once the car was out of sight we were allowed to enter the museum.

We asked an employee behind the desk who the visitors were and he said it was the future president of Mexico. Finally we had an explanation for the protesters!

The Neues Museum has a really great exhibit on the Egyptians and their prize possession is the bust of Nefertiti. It was really beautifully sculpted and I learned that it was actually used as a model for other busts. One of her eyes is even fake so that it could be used to teach students how to set the eyes.

Tired from a day full of museums we sloshed back towards our hostel in the rain. We were all sad about leaving Berlin so early. We kept on saying, “if only we had one more day!”

Finally, I looked at Ari and Addison and said, “do you just want to stay another day?”

It didn’t take very long for us to start planning the many things we would do with an extra day.

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