Thursday, June 02, 2011

Safe and Sound in Berlin

Well, it's been a very long day, but I'm safe and sound in Berlin.

I met up with three of the students at LAX and it turned out that none of them had had a full night's sleep. I don't think any of them slept for more than an hour on the red eye flight to Berlin. I took Ambien the night before the flight so I got 6 hours sleep. I took another on the plane and slept for nearly 4, so I was feeling pretty good today.

The hotel is in West Berlin and we were able to check into our rooms early. After a quick shower and change we started on our walk. After a so-so lunch at Cafe Hardenberg, opposite the university, we headed off to East Berlin.

Our first stop was the Oranieburgerstra├če synagogue, and from there to the Koppenplatz memorial. This is a very moving one that consists of just a slightly oversized table with two chairs, one of which has been knocked over.

We then made our way to Alexanderplatz and started our long walk. I'm really too tired to go into details. We did stop for a nice coffee and cake at Cafe Einstein on Unter den Linden. One of the students is looking for a telephone card, but it turned out today was a Lutheran holiday (Ascention Day -- who knew? Not me) and all the stores were closed. As it happens I found one this evening after I went out for dinner, so I will tell her about it tomorrow.

We walked all the way down Unter den Linden to the Brandenburg Gate, then south to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. I wanted the students to experience it without any prior readings or study. We will go back on Sunday afternoon and I want to see if there impressions of it change.

We made it back to the hotel around 6, after stopping off at the grocery store for breakfast supplies (our rooms have a small kitchenette and fridge). I figured after spending nearly 48 hours with me, the students needed a break, so I´m eating alone tonight. I´m also letting them sleep in; we don´t meet until 9:30 am tomorrow morning. Except I need to do a walk-up knock at 8 am for one room that doesn´t have an alarm clock.

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