On our following day in Berlin, Alyssa and I decided to simply explore the city as opposed to doing historical things. My sister had recently traveled to Berlin and recommended a funky neighborhood for us to check out (I don’t know what it was called, though). It turned out to be really cool! It was a more industrial area, as opposed to the sleekness we had seen elsewhere. There was a ton of huge and intricate street art, as well as cafés and, surprisingly, international restaurants.
We eventually settled on a restaurant that had actual German food and ended up sitting there for hours just talking and enjoying our liters of fruity beer, giant pork chops, fries, and two salads (I don’t know how that happened). Then, we walked around some more until we found a grocery store from which we could buy… more beer. And we did, and our two beers were, altogether, 1 Euro. However, an hour later and only 1/16 done with mine, I officially decided that I don’t like beer and threw it away.
In the meantime, Alyssa and I had found this really beautiful, massive park. All of the leaves were changing colors, and the sun was already going down in the gloomy sky by this point, creating a really eery, Halloween-esque feel. We went to a memorial for Soviet soldiers from World War II and then sat by a lovely pond for awhile.
Once it was sufficiently dark outside, Alyssa and I hung out in a café for another hour or two, thoroughly discussing our musical tastes over cappuccinos like our inner Seattle hipster selves. Finally, we then went to a little schnitzel restaurant before heading back to our hostel for the night. Again, we didn’t end up going clubbing…
The next day was our final day in Berlin. We had picked a random neighborhood on our map and decided that we found find breakfast there. It turned out to be a really modern area with lots of shopping, an erotic museum, and a zoo. After leisurely eating our food at an outdoor restaurant, we found another really gorgeous park! Again, all of the leaves were shades of orange and yellow, and it was so fun and rejuvenating to frolic around in nature.
Afterward, to turn to a far more serious note, we went to a Holocaust museum where once stood the Gestapo headquarters. There was an extensive history of the rise of the Nazi Party, and that’s as far as I made it through the museum before I wanted to leave. It was so upsetting, and reading all of the history and seeing the photographs really personally affected me. Maybe it had just been awhile since I had read something related to the Holocaust, or maybe the fact that I was right there in Berlin made it all the more real. Regardless, I was so upset reading about not only how hateful the Nazi leaders were, but how enthusiastically so many German people supported them at that time. Thus, Alyssa and I decided not to go through the rest of the museum.
We went to the waffle café to comfort ourselves.
However, I became really depressed then. Before even coming to Berlin, I had, for some reason, been particularly feeling the weight of the world’s problems on my shoulders. I think then with witnessing the police’s racism on the train ride over, to learning about Cold War agression and how it affected the lives of so many people who were in no way related to the core issue, to finally going to a Holocaust museum all added up and completely overwhelmed me. There were some eerily relevant quotes at the museum, including one from a high-ranking Nazi official saying that they don’t need to follow actual written laws because their authority is the reality that they have to deal with. Though the effects of this mentality were on a completely different scale during the Holocaust, it is this same mentality that drives a lot of people in power today to take advantage of that power and to persuade the general public that it is necessary. What came to mind for me was the Patriot Act, and how, although it completely contradicts the Bill of Rights, our political leaders convinced us that it was necessary in order to combat terrorism- that we willingly went along with this plan to give up our rights out of fear. From there, I just started spiraling into this dark thought process of viewing the world as a shitty place full of problems that I can’t solve…
Finally, Alyssa helped to talk me out of it, and I reminded myself that the Nazis lost in the end!! And that the Cold War ended!! And that, though it is physically impossible for me alone to solve the world’s problems, if I put forth the effort that I can, and if everyone on this Earth puts forth whatever effort that they can, then together we can make a difference!
And on that note, I ask you to find out what cause stirs your soul and then do something about it! The problems of the world won’t change if we just sit back and watch them happen.
And that is my motivational rant =).