Don’t worry, even though I used fancy German in my title, this blog will be in English. Quick translation of the title: Birthday Celebration in Germany!
My first few weeks back at work have been quite pleasant. The tasks I do for each class vary quite a bit; I do a lot of small group work to help students get more practice speaking, and one particular teacher is helping me get more comfortable with standing in front of the entire class. He’s actually given me the task of coming up with an entire lesson plan based on the material the students have to learn next – I’ve only gotten started, but it’s an interesting challenge for sure!
The most exciting event that happened since my last blog post is my birthday, which was January 18th. It was the first birthday I’ve been able to spend with my boyfriend since I was turning 16 – that was the year he was still in Canada. Since then, he’s always been in Germany for my birthday while I’ve been in either Calgary or Victoria. Needless to say, this birthday was certainly an unforgettable one!
About a week before my birthday, Sebastien told me to make sure I left the 17th (Friday) completely open, since he was going to borrow his parents’ car for the day. I didn’t really know where we would be going, but on the night of the 16th he gave me a new towel and told me we would be visiting a tropical island about an hour outside of Berlin. I made sure to pack my bathing suit in the car, but still had no idea what he could possibly mean. I know Europe is small, but driving to somewhere “tropical” like Spain or Italy would definitely take more than an hour’s drive from Berlin.
So on the morning of the 17th, we drove for about an hour, and eventually I started seeing signs for the aforementioned “Tropical Island”. We drove into what seemed to be the middle of nowhere, but eventually we arrived at this:
I thought of the big tent-like structure back in Calgary, “Lindsay Park,” which was a gym with a weight-room and swimming pool. We then had a bite to eat in the car, and finally walked into the mysterious building. Unfortunately I left my camera in the car, because I didn’t want it to get wet in the pool.
We opened the door and were greeted by a gust of warm air from inside. I could hear club-like music echoing from behind the entrance gate, but still couldn’t really see what the place was like. Both Sebastien and I were given wristbands with an electronic button connected to them, and told that saunas cost extra if we wanted to use them.
Finally, we entered the tropical island. People were walking everywhere in a mixture of swimming suits and robes. We stood facing a wall of tropical plants, and could see a few rustic buildings as well. Sebastien then explained the concept to me – this huge dome was about the largest built in Europe, and was originally intended to build air-crafts in.But by the time the huge dome was completed, the air-craft companies were broke, so the dome sat unused for a number of years. Then, someone brilliant came up with the idea to turn the dome into a tropical paradise: keep it nice and toasty in there throughout the winter, add lush plants and big pools, and turn it into a great vacation spot.
We first changed into our bathing suits, using the electronic wristbands to lock our lockers. The wristbands turned out to be really handy – you could use them anytime you wanted to do something that cost extra (like enter the saunas) and also to pay for food and drink, and then you would just pay for everything once you left. While that meant that people could easily lose track of how much they were spending, it also meant that they weren’t walking around with cash that could easily be stolen. Sebastien and I walked through the tropical plants to find a huge swimming pool, where a water-fitness class was just finishing up (hence the music from earlier – after the class, it became pretty quiet). We arrived at about 11:30, and Sebastien told me we could stay and relax until 3am.
So that is how we spent our entire day. There were two large swimming pools, and we took turns going in each of those and enjoying a few waterslides. In the middle of it all was the section with tropical plants, along with flamingos and turtles and large fish, and we took our time walking through and checking everything out. There were lots of areas to sit on lounging chairs, along with little tourist shops and nice restaurants. Part of the deal of this place is that you can stay overnight – there are large sandy areas of tents you can stay in, and there are several themed huts and hotels throughout the dome. I guess there was an area of hotels attached to the dome as well, but of course had no interest in leaving the dome to check it out. Some of the huts were along the water, and were made to look exactly like holiday homes along the beach. My favourite was an area that looked like Tortuga from “Pirates of the Caribbean” – there were about three levels, with lots of fake signs for fortune tellers and Pirate meeting places, and when Seb and I climbed to the balcony between rooms, we got an amazing view over the entire resort.
There were some things we didn’t do, since they cost extra – there was a section with three huge waterslides that would have cost 5 euros, and a small ride for another 3. There were also a few hot-air balloons you could go up in and get a walk around the grounds to see it all from above. But there was more than enough for us to do, and we enjoyed the luxurious experience of having hours on end in which to explore and relax. Around dinnertime, there was one restaurant that had a small stage, where you could pay extra to go see a show. The funny thing about that dome was that you could hear the music from the show no matter where you were in the dome. A lot of the restaurants required you to actually put on clothes, so Sebastien and I went for the schnitzel restaurant where you could stay in your bathing suits. There weren’t too many people at the dome, and by the time it was about 11 it became very quiet. When the clock struck midnight and my official birthday began in Germany, we were among about 6 people swimming in one of the huge pools. We stayed until about 1:30, and then finally faced the cold and drove home. It was a terrific day! Unfortunately I was unable to attach any photos of the tropical island here, but please Google search “Tropical Island Berlin” and you can see for yourself what I mean. Every time I’ve tried to attach photos here, it ended up deleting my entire blog post…so this blog isn’t going to be as rambe-y as originally expected.
I had a lot of fun on Saturday. A friend of mine who’s birthday is on January 19th graciously volunteered to have a group of friends over at her house before we went out to a club. There is a group of friends in Germany I’ve known for about two years now through Sebastien, and I was really happy about how many of them came out to celebrate. There were also a few people there that I’ve met through the PAD program. All in all, I like to think everyone had a good time! On the Sunday, we went over to Sebastien’s parents’ house for birthday dinner, and we had a pleasant evening. All in all, a terrific birthday weekend!
And so we reach the conclusion of today’s blog. I hope that you enjoyed the read, despite it’s shortness! Thank you so much for reading 🙂