Best of Berlin

Berlin was really a surprise. I was expecting a city with such a dark history to have a more mournful feeling. However, this city was hopeful and uplifting. Berlin is the definition of comeback season. They have worked hard to overcome the evil that haunted their city in the past and actively move forward to make positive change.

Like I promised in my last blog, I am going to reveal my favorite spots in Berlin!

Treptower Park:

Team Charlie frolicked through Treptower Park to get to a playground in the distance. We traveled back to our childhood roots as we jumped from swings and monkey bars. This park covered a vast amount of land and you would never find the hidden treasure lying within if you didn’t know it was there. Once Dr. Pitcock arrived at the park, he led us to this treasure deep within the trees: The Soviet War Memorial. We kept our eyes fixed on a statue of a women on one knee, gripping her clothing as a sign of respect. After appreciating her beauty, we turned around to see where her eyes were locked. Once I completed my turn, my jaw was on the ground. This breath taking view was something I would have never expected to see in a place like this.

The Soviet War Memorial was absolutely huge, but that didn’t take away from the intimate connections made at each part of the memorial. Each carving told the story of soviet soldiers as well as their relationships with the community. These carvings lining the sides of the memorial led us up to the massive statue that served as the center piece of the memorial.

Team Charlie sat at the top of the memorial and just took in the view. Looking over at my team in this moment of reflection made me so thankful for these people I get to call my friends. Brent, Gabby, Griffin, and Sarah have taught me more about myself than I could have even imagined. They are all amazing people and if you haven’t met them, then you really need to because the are some pretty great humans. CR has provided me with many opportunities for self reflection. I have been blessed to learn more about myself and those around me. Each and every person on CR is so unique and every day I become more fascinated with their love for life.

Berlin Cathedral:

The only thing I have to say about the Berlin cathedral is WOW! The moment I stepped foot inside the cathedral I was enthralled with the beauty that covered every square inch of the floor, walls, and ceilings. I took a seat and absorbed the sound of the organ echoing throughout the cathedral.

After taking a moment to just think about life, I took the narrow hike up to the lookout point. I scaled the roof and opened up the door to find 360 views of Berlin. The way that CR approaches each city challenges us to dive in and truly understand the place we are exploring. As I was looking down to the streets from above, I could easily navigate where everything was located. I now know the S-bahn and U-bahn like the back of my hand and I have never felt more accomplished in my life.

Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe:

This memorial takes up a valuable plot of land in a center of the city. Without knowing the meaning of the memorial, some might think that the blocks look like a cool place to film a parkour video. It was evident that many people did not understand the meaning and weight that this memorial held because they were aimlessly jumping around from block to block.

We went down into the museum and spent hours reading and listening to personal stories from the perspectives of Jewish people around Europe. There were quotes on the ground that were difficult to process. This one below really made me think.

“Dear Father! I am saying goodbye to you before I die. We would so love to live, but they won’t let us and we will die. I am so scared of this death, because the small children are thrown alive into the pit. Goodbye forever. I kiss you tenderly.

Yours J”

The thought of writing a letter to say goodbye for the last time is something that I can’t comprehend. In my blog post before CR I wrote about this memorial and how it make past CR members feel. I can say for a fact now that you will never understand those feelings until you are standing in Berlin looking up being trapped by those tall blocks. Walking through the memorial after spending time in the museum gave it much more meaning. I developed a deeper appreciation for the design of the memorial and the open ended interpretation that allowed space for reflection.

I have a deep appreciation for the effort Berlin has put into these memorials. They are truly a space to reflect and learn from the past. Thank you Berlin for treating us well and being such a sweet surprise!! I’ll miss you!

Until next time,

Claire

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