Each country has a bit of a stereotype. A reputation whether it’s good or bad for doing something that is unique to your particular culture. In America, we are known for our laziness, fast food and inability to use the metric system. The French are a bit haughty and are the gate keepers of all the champagne. The British are sipping some tea and Irish drink a lot of whiskey. Italians eat pasta and love their mama’s. The Swiss stay neutral and then you have the Germans. The German’s are punctual, efficient and love their beer.
So someone please explain to me how in the hell do they have such a shit reputation with trains? How does a country that has a pretty terrible reputation for the shit they did in the past to people in trains allow their trains to run without any AC on the hottest damn day of the year? There was no water, soda or air. I was melting in my seat cursing the entire country and dumbfounded that this was legal. It wasn’t until we chatted with some Germans that we learned that the German stereotype is absolutely not applicable to their train service and in fact the German trains are well known by locals as an absolute shit show. Just boggles my mind. Our macaroons were liquidated and our spirits were in a fragile state when we arrived at the hotel. Thank God, for air conditioning and cool walks along the East Side Gallery.
Once we had three too many tickets validated for the tram, we headed towards our three hour bike tour. During this tour we got lessons that lasted a tad bit too long, saw some amazing historic buildings and left a snail trail of sweat throughout the city. It was the peak of the day and the city was a blaze. The rubber on our wheels was melting as we explored Check Point Charlie, learned about imaginative escapes from the East and met high noon at the Brandenburg Gate. Our tour was an hour over schedule and my stomach was eating at my every nerve. The rest of the day we spent sipping on Aperol Spritzes and nearly drowning ourselves in sparkling water.
During our tour we learned about the Typography of Terror, which is a free museum that Berlin offers in order to educate people about their dark history in hopes of it not ever repeating. I found myself standing in the very place where the demolition of an entire city was planned. Warsaw was to be annihilated, it’s residents were to be condemned and it’s heritage was to burn to the ground. There was an outside exhibit that shows the fall and rise of Warsaw. It was jarring and haunting. I have to admit it hits a little different when you call the Phoenix city your home. Inside there were corridors full of history and information that served as warnings to the world. A showcase of how terrible humans can be to each other in a desperate plea to never forget the lessons once learned.
Berlin is a city that owns it’s dark history and attempts to educate all those who pass through it. We took a walk through the Tiergarten where William E. Dodd, the American ambassador right before WWII would exchange information. If these trees could talk the stories they could tell would shake our souls. The blossoming gardens and sprawling park are signs that the city is healing. Berlin’s history still haunts it’s every move and it’s scars can be see in the building’s that are in need of repair.
My Mom and I were able to see a lot of a city was nearly set a blaze. It was our last city before we headed back home, her trip was quickly coming to a close. In a week or so, she would be back in the classroom half way across the world. But we still had a couple more days before we had to part, and I was determined to make the most of them.