The last stop on my trip was Germany. By this time, all the traveling had caught up to me and I was really tired. But I had to push myself because I had been looking forward to seeing Germany. I arrived in Frankfurt and my family, who lives about forty five minutes away in a small town, Diez, greeted me there. It was so nice to see familiar faces when I arrived. When we made it home, my aunt had prepared a nice meal for us and we enjoyed it outside on their patio.
The next day, I stayed at home and took another day of rest. After this trip, I learned that in the future, I will need to build days of rest into my travels. I’m excited about this, since I am finding new ways to better manage my health. It’s progress. However, there wasn’t too much time for rest. We had to start planning our next move. This time I had a little help. My cousin, Nadia planned all the travel arrangements. She is a native German speaker, so it was great.
That evening we went to nearby Limburg, which is known for some of the oldest homes in Germany. Much of the town was destroyed in a devastating fire in 1289, but the homes were rebuilt and their original style was restored. It is a charming little town, and it was a great start to seeing Germany.
The next day we traveled to Cologne, which is Germany’s fourth largest city. What is really neat about Cologne is that it is located on both sides of the beautiful Rhine river. It was almost completely destroyed in World War II and was later rebuilt. Many of its’ historic buildings were restored, which gives it a dynamic landscape with both old and modern buildings. Also famous, is the Cologne Cathedral, or Kolner Dom. The cathedral was heavily bombed in World War II, but it withstood the damage. It is said that the two spires of the cathedral were used as navigational aids by pilots, which may have saved the cathedral from being completely demolished. Divine guidance? (I couldn’t help but wonder.) I would have loved to spend more time in Cologne exploring its rich history, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough time. We had to move on to our next stop, Berlin!
We arrived in Berlin Thursday evening. Later that night, I was excited to reconnect with two of my friends, Sarah and Vivian, who I’d met while they were visiting fellows at CNN. They are both correspondents for one of Germany’s television stations, RTL. It was great to see them and talk to locals’ about their thoughts on German media, politics and history.
The next day, I met Sarah and Vivian for lunch and they gave me a tour of RTL, and I saw CNN’s berlin bureau, which is modest–a small room cramped with tons of television equipment. It was neat to see where our team in Berlin works out of. I’ve corresponded with them a lot at work, so it was neat to see where they actually work.
After my tour of the station, I went out to explore more. Berlin is a fascinating city. There is so much history in one place, yet it’s also a thriving, modern city. There’s so much to see there, you need at least a week. We only had two full days, so we had to make the most of it. On our first day, we visited the Brandenburg Gate, or Brandenburger Tor. It was originally built as a symbol of peace in 1788. It suffered serious damage in the war, and was only fully restored in 2000. It is now considered a symbol of Germany and Europe’s tumultuous past, and a sign of its unity as well. How ironic.
Then, we visited the Reischstag, where the German parliament convenes. I was thrilled to see it for myself. I am fascinated by Germany’s government and it was a treat for me. What a nerd, I know!
Last, but certainly not least was the Berlin wall. Its’ importance in German and European history goes without saying. It’s hard to believe that wall came down only a little more than twenty years ago. We also stopped by the East Side Gallery, which is where local artists have displayed their artwork on the wall. It’s really neat to walk along and see all the artwork. It’s a point in the city where history and art collide.
Germany was a fantastic end to my trip. I am happy to have learned so much about it through my work at CNN, and have had the opportunity to see it myself. Most of all, I am grateful that I was able to experience it in good health. That was the best part for me!