Berlin, Germany

 Berlin!! That city stirs our hearts to an affection as it now holds  connection to our dear friends, Tyler & Laura. It is hard to believe we arrived at the nine month mark of their time in this wonderful city. It had seemed like such a long time since we last saw them.

After a night of nine hours of raveling, their faces were the truly the sweetest site. :) They greeted us at the Tegel airport, took us into their home for some refreshment and a quick rest before heading out into the city center as a preventative measure for some gnarly jet lag.

The Brandenburg Gate (above) was so grand! As we came out of the metro station, it stood ahead, welcoming us to this place of rich history and fascinating architecture.

One of the first unexpected experiences we had was the weather. It was so windy and cool - which surprised me since it was mid June. I was expecting uncomfortable heat. Yet, it was lovely. These photos were taken around 9pm, the sky still bright.

 The Berliner Dom or Berlin Cathedral located on Museum Island was my favorite building in Berlin & one of Ike's favorites from the entire trip. We sat and admired it for a few moments, as the lilting sound of a nearby street, string quartet eased the city to rest. Birds were circling the golden cross crowning the main dome - there was a certain indescribable majesty.

These bullet holes are from World War II - much of the city was destroyed & has since been rebuilt, but a few reminders remain. It was surreal to feel the jagged marks left from such a historic event.

There was a large patch of roses near the Neptune fountain - Stunning.
 (The Neptune Fountain)

Berlin was our first experience in Europe using public transport. And as we continued on to other countries, Germany ranked high on our list of favorite public transport systems. By far, the most affordable with quite spacious and usually clean rail cars.
 I have no idea what we would have ever done if we had traveled to another European city before Berlin. Tyler & Laura were amazing travel guides. If I am ever asked what is the #1 recommendation I have for an international destination, my answer will be, "Go to where you have friends to be your guides!" Without Tyler and Laura we would have never been able to see so much in such a short time. Opportunities opened to us with ease because we had friends who could communicate in the native tongue. The incredible amount of information about German/European culture that Ty and LJ shared with us enabled us to have a much deeper appreciation for what we were experiencing.  On top of it all, sharing hearts and laughter with the ones we love are what really made the trip a treasure.

Other highlights from our time in Berlin:

- Doner (umlaut on the "o") - the yummy (gyros-like) turkish kebab at the small doner shop down the street from Tyler & Laura's apartment. This is something we already miss & talk about wanting to eat again. :)

- Seeing the bricks in the street where the Berlin wall used to stand, separating the East and West. It was also interesting to see the architectural differences between the two sides of Berlin.

- the TV tower at Alexander Platz were propaganda was aired in Communist Berlin

- our second day in Berlin, we visited a nudity. :) Although it took us awhile to choose the perfect spot, we had a lovely time. By that time, I was feeling some major jet lag and for some reason I was sneezing all the time! I think I sneezed more in Berlin than I have anywhere else in the world. :)

As we look back, this city was an amazing start to our journey.


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