Day 13: Berlin, Germany
Another day in Berlin; can you believe it? Here’s a place that I never ever thought I’d come to yet we’ve spent a large majority of our time here. It certainly is a place with a lot of historical significance, that’s for sure! We dressed and headed to breakfast as today’s schedule had to be a bit reconfigured as the Berlin Marathon is running through the city today. According to Todd it’s one of the top five most scenic marathons in the world and takes part in many different places of the city and must change our plan as it’s difficult to get the coach into the city and do a city tour today. So, flexibility rides again…I am going to services for the second day of Rosh Hashanah and Mathew is going on a walking tour of Berlin with many other Contikiites.
The city of Berlin, known for the Berlin Bear as their mascot, was setting up for the marathon as I was walking to services. I watched the volunteers in their bright yellow jackets prepare water stations, set up barricades, hang balloons and prepare the entertainment stations as they got their morning briefing! I went to services which were not very crowded again but of course, the strange candy lady was there again. I stayed for about 2 hours again and then left and wound up walking back the route of the marathon which was really cool. I stopped and watched the runners and clapped and watched in awe as my dad would have loved to have been there and see another marathon in another city! I actually had to cross the marathon at a few points to be able to get to the hotel as I was able to then hang out the window and watch the marathoners run right by…how cool! Now that’s certainly something to be able to say right; I was in Berlin the day of the marathon…and it only got better!
I got back to the hotel and changed from services, hopped a few trains and met Mathew at the end of his walking tour at the checkpoint Charlie museum stop. We looked at all of the poster boards that recorded the history of the beginnings of Communism and the set up of that area and the Berlin Wall, took some photos of course (strange to see some German actors dressed up in US Army uniform waiting at the checkpoint if you wanted photos and holding tight to the American flag) and then wandered back towards the Brandenburg Gate for some lunch. As we watched the runners go straight through the Gate (a sight to see I must say as we watched in person and then on the big jumbo tron sized screens) we had some lunch and wandered along as there were hundreds of yummy food vendors set up at the start of Tiergarten Park (the end of the marathon) at the base of the Brandenburg Gate. After lunch Mathew attempted to hit the Stasi Museum (German spy museum) and I walked through Tiergarten Park on my way home (well, back to the hotel). As I entered the park and followed the path of the runners it became clear that the finish line was only a short ways in front of me so of course, this I had to see! I watched in awe as countless nameless faces crossed the finish line hours behind the winning Kenyans and elite runners but with smiles just as big with such a feeling of accomplishment that it was written all over their faces. One after another men and women of different nations ran and walked across that finish line that was a bit smaller than the NYC marathon but no less impressive after 26.2 miles of a stunning performance of the human body’s capacity to keep on going. I watched for awhile as the cameras snapped, the audience cheered and people smiled and giggled as only in Germany did I think you would see marathoners finish a race and try to replenish their electrolytes with a beer!
We both arrived home later via an internet café and Mathew had bought me a surprise rose just because and decided to see what the others had been up to for the day and what they were doing for dinner. We wound up skipping dinner with the bunch as they were hitting an Italian pizza shop and we jumped on the train and headed to Dada Falafel not too far from the New Synagogue. This was a kebab shop that had been written up and we had seen a few days earlier. Dinner was amazing and quite living up to its write up which is of course a rare occurrence and after being well-fed we headed back to the hotel and wound up hanging out in the lobby for awhile with Emma and Brendan , two teachers who are dating each other and are from Melbourne, Australia. Off to bed as the others slowly arrived back from their I Spy tour of the Underground clubs of Berlin and ready for Prague tomorrow…l’shana tova for this year…see you in Prague tomorrow!