Copenhagen 2012: A Week In Berlin

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Last week I wrote about FOMO, or my generalized fear about missing out on dirt-cheap European travel opportunities while studying abroad.
As a follow-up, I’m going to tell you about how I spent the past week in Berlin. Don’t question the irony; it’s not lost on me either.
My program does sponsored study tours. We take a short weekend one — mine went to northern Germany and western Denmark — and a longer one for a whole week. That one went to Berlin.
In case you don’t know much about this city, here’s a brief recap: German capital, site where Hitler planned many of his atrocities, central location for East/West tension during the era of the Soviet-controlled German Democratic Republic, unbelievable mix of old and new worlds.
I was immediately hooked. I’m from a small town, so usually I do this thing where I fall in love with every city I visit, and each one more than the last. It’s unhealthy, and I don’t hate it.
Berlin was amazing precisely because it was so unlike any other city I’ve visited. Because the city was divided for so long, I think it would be impossible to recreate the type of division and regrowth that’s happened there in another place. I think this description won’t do it justice, either.

My trip included a lot of thoughtful museum visits — The Jewish Museum, The Topography of Terror, the Berlin Wall Memorial. It was a study tour. We studied.
But my friends and I tried to spend the little time we had on our own differently. We made a pilgrimage to the Ritter Sport store. That’s a candy bar, it’s not at all athletic, and you should Google it. I bought 11.
Shopping (literally everything in the world is cheaper than Copenhagen) took us around the center of the city, and for dinner we tried to be as adventurous as possible — a little Spanish food, some Thai wraps, an overbooked Indonesian place and some sort of Indian/Mexican fusion with decent mojitos and a confusingly bad curry menu.
And then there was the accidental entrance into White Trash Fast Food, a cavernous bar/club/restaurant where in 30 seconds we went from a metal concert on one floor to a terrible techno DJ and smoke machines on another.
To me, that crazy juxtaposition is what characterized Berlin. The Berlin Cathedral and the TV Tower fitting into the same camera frame. The hot air balloon rides a stone’s throw away from some of Hitler’s most important buildings.
It’s all right there, right under the surface. And a week certainly wasn’t enough to do it justice. So I hope I’ll be heading back one day. And if not, at least the FOMO is sated for now.
Photo: at

Claire Wiseman

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