Sunday, September 23, 2012

Germany by Whitney

Two weeks in Germany with my Dad and my brother Steve, who could ask for more? As my senior trip this summer the three of us boarded a plane to France. After a couple hours of delay on the tarmac in Salt Lake we finally took off for several hours of mind-numbing flight that included spectacularly bad airplane food and mandatory (non-controllable) viewings of questionable movies such as "the best exotic marigold hotel". By the time we landed in France we were a little late for our flight. Unfortunately the French airport officials thought that it would be a good idea to hold back five hundred patrons at the customs desk for an hour in the name of making a straight line (I kid you not). When we finally were allowed to wave our passports at the officials we tore through the muggy airport, being continually waved on by reassuring attendants who kept telling us that we were in time for our flight. (We had already missed it by about an hour.) We got our tickets re-scheduled and were sooner or later on our way to Frankfurt for real.
Touching down in Germany was awesome. We were thrashed after not sleeping for over twenty four hours, but the thrill of traveling sustained us. We left the airport and hopped on a six-hour train to Berlin. We finally reached our destination and after grabbing a quick meal of Durner (lamb roasted on a spit and then shaved off onto fries) we hailed a cab that took us across the city at the pace of roughly  two hundred miles an hour. Once we reached the hotel we collapsed into the beds, having gone thirty-four hours without sleep.

The next morning we ventured out to a European McDonalds and then set out to explore the city of Berlin. Throughout the day we hopped on and off the tour buses as we wandered around the city, inspecting Checkpoint Charlie, The Wall, the holocaust memorials, and a myriad of other historical sights. While the city was amazing, much of it was oriented towards tourists. Most everything had an English translation available and much of the city was very westernized. 

It was even better to get into the eastern part of Germany, where my Dad served on his mission. We got a car and the adventure really began.  The next two weeks were a whirlwind of amazing places, people and experiences. Dresden was beautiful, its large main church has recently been rebuilt from the pile of rubble it had been reduced to during the bombings of World War Two. The palaces were gorgeous as well as the River Rind. Meissen's beauty is beyond words, it easily ranks as my favorite spot on earth.

If you ever have the chance to go to Meissen, go. Don't hesitate.

Traveling to Europe made me realize just how superficial mankind is in America. We think that our country is old and settled, but in Germany you wander streets of cobblestone that were laid centuries ago. Thousands of years of mankind have built up on themselves and have resulted in cities that the Romans once traveled through.  Wherever you go you can see bits of history everywhere. While we were visiting Meissen Steve and I were wandering the steep cobblestone streets popping in and out of antique stores, Steve bought a beaver top-hat and a metal WW2 helmet. I found a German WW2 field typewriter and a Prussian bronze enamel letter opener.

I'm excited to travel back someday and it was a great finale to my high school experience, not to mention a great start to college.

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