Day 1 Journal:
My trip really started before CR5 day 1, because I may have accidentally booked my flight to get in a day earlier than planned. With 1 connection in Copenhagen, Denmark, I was pretty confident in my abilities to maneuver the foreign airport and locate my connection gate. It all seemed so easy while I was packing in my room. Finally I had completed that task after a luggage fiasco (thank you mom for dealing with that with me) and was off to my little sisters regional playoff game. The reality of the situation had not caught up with me yet. Just after the first half though, I was picked up and set off after saying good bye to my parents once again, after seeing them only 3 days in the past 6 months. It was tough, but they both know they prepared me well, and devoutly trusted me. Both of which I’m extremely grateful for. Regardless, I was on my way to Berlin. After a short wait at O’Hare, I boarded the plane for my first solo international flight. I was nervous at first, I will admit. I gave the cross around my neck the usual kiss for good luck, and knocked out for 7 hours. I woke up and anxiously awaited the landing, which was a bit bumpy, but who’s gonna remember that…? Thankfully the airport in Copenhagen had English translations on MOST signs. I just kept following the letter A on all the signs. Soon enough I found myself in a gate with people speaking a language I’d only heard in movies. I knew I was in the right place for a flight to Berlin. I decided I needed some fuel, so
I set off for food. Still a bit cautious, I decided on a banana and water. For whatever reason, the German bananas didn’t peel as well as American bananas, and I took a small bite out of the most bitter thing I have ever tasted. Lesson learned. But I quickly made an adjustment and ended up ok. Within the hour, I was sitting on the 45 minute flight to Tegel airport in Berlin. Now, I have seen country fields from airplanes in several different countries, but for some reason Berlin enthralled me far more than the rest. Maybe it was because I have always wanted to visit the land of my ancestors, or because I had studied German wars so thoroughly, but it was epic. My eyes were glued to the window, much to the lady in the actual window seats chagrin, oops.
Landed! The text went out to those who would be most concerned. I stepped out into the German air and it became real. I had made it. The trip was so close to commencement that I couldn’t help but smile. There was no turning back now, not that I ever wanted to! I waited for my bag, hailed a taxi and handed the driver an address written on a notecard and off we went. He pointed out certain points of interest. Thankfully we arrived at the correct location and I checked
In and went to my room, instantly trying to configure the wifi to let the loved ones know I was safe. After that ordeal, I headed out into the city to find a small, lively place to enjoy my first German meal. Naturally, I ordered a pizza. Regardless of what I ordered, I was in Berlin, all alone, with no cell service, no friends, and just a view of one of the great cities of Europe. The moment when I fully grasped the incredible situation I was in, was one of the highlights of my life. Thank god I was given this opportunity and thank god I have the parents and support network necessary to embark on such a journey. And this is only the beginning…
Day 2 Journal:
Today is the day I am meeting up with the group. Being solo was fun for a night, but I was anxious to get with the group and really start branching out and seeing more of Berlin. I woke up and had to be out of my room by 11, so I sat in the lobby for a while doing some work, but I finally got too bored of being inside, and grabbed my bag and ventured out into Berlin. Unfortunately, it was in the wrong direction. Eventually I decided that I was too lost and hailed a taxi. After some rough directions, I had arrived. I heard Pitcocks voice from outside and went in to greet the rest of the crew. A small group of us decided it was adventure time, the rest decided on nap time. So we started walking up and down the river, got some old school photographs taken, and then found our way into the center of a University. Slightly lost, we went into and gave ourselves a small tour of their version of a rec center. Slightly tired and very hungry, we went back to the hostel to lay on the lounge beds on the deck with some Frenchmen until it was time for dinner. Once at the restaurant, Dr. P glanced down to our end of the table, and mentioned something about a pizza challenge. Naturally, Jared, Bryan and I couldn’t resist. So, we made the biggest mistake of the trip thus far: Ordering the Markus. It will be a fun story 4 days from now, when were finally hungry again.. This pizza was largest serving of food I’ve ever seen. And it wasn’t just a pepperoni pizza either. Some of the toppings (I’m not sure what a few things were) we COULD figure out were: Salami, another similar meat, salmon, shrimp, loads of lettuce, on top of onions, with additional cheese on top, and some sort of pepper things. Needless to say, we were no longer hungry. I think we walked a bit slower after that as well. Slowly but surely we made our way to a large square, where Dr. Pitcock reiterated the importance of fully grasping the history surrounding you. Little did we know, we were 30 feet from a very unique monument that is in remembrance of all the books the Nazi’s burned. The monument was underground, and it was a white room with empty bookshelves lining the walls, all viewable only from a 2×2 glass window in the sidewalk. The plans for the next day were set, and we were thankfully off to bed. Too bad I can’t sleep, I am writing this at 3 AM here. Oh well. Stay tuned for journals from day 3&4!