I love the irony of writing blog posts: when you don’t have a lot going on, there’s lots of time to write blogs but nothing to write about. Then when everything exciting happens, you have tons of things to write about, but no time!
There hasn’t been a heck of a lot I’ve been up to in the past few weeks, but I was surprised when I realized that it has been almost a month since my last post. A few mildly exciting things have gone on in the past month, so I shall try to summarize them now!
A few weekends back, Sebastien and I spontaneously decided to take a day trip to Potsdam. If you take a regional train from Berlin to Potsdam, it can take as little as an hour. I love the regional trains here, especially the type that we took to Potsdam – it’s a double-decker! So we got to climb stairs up to the top floor of the train.
The day of our trip was absolutely gorgeous – one of the first true days of Spring. Potsdam has the largest outdoor Heritage Site in Germany. There is a huge open park, and by following various paths you come across several historical buildings. Sebastien and I worked our way across the park from one side to the other, beginning with two buildings across from one another. One of the buildings (the first photo below) is used as part of the University of Potsdam. The one across the way is a building that has played a part in history. The most significant thing that comes to my mind is that it was where the Declaration of War was signed, beginning the first World War.
The last photo I posted is from the backside of the building – we had officially walked from between the two buildings into the long park. As you walked through a lot of green space, you could continually look back behind you and see this building in the distance. In this photo you may also notice that there is something on the ground in a circular shape – Sebastien and I are pretty sure that these are fountains for most of the year that are currently empty. The only problem with our awesome day in Potsdam was that it was still too early for a lot of the fountains and flowers that will be there later in the summer. But it was still gorgeous, nonetheless!
The next historic site we came to was the “Orangery”, which was the last building built in Potsdam’s historic park. From what we could see of this building, it was a large greenhouse with orange trees growing inside. The setup of the building reminded me more of warmer European climates, like perhaps Italy or Spain. Sebastien and I then took this opportunity to eat an orange. It didn’t come from inside the building, but we could pretend.
After we were finished here, we went to see the Chinese Tea House. A lot of the buildings in this park were built for the benefit of Friedrich the 2nd, because Potsdam is where he would come and stay during the summer. The Chinese Tea House was built by Europeans, who based it on Chinese design, and it is where Friedrich the 2nd would go to enjoy his afternoon tea (don’t quote me on that, but I think it’s a reasonable theory). The whole building is apparently very fragile, and every time someone moved a bit too close to the fence an alarm would go off. In any case, it was very beautiful to see!
The next building along was one that is primarily used for gardening, but at this point in the year it wasn’t very impressive yet. Made a good spot for us to sit and have a bite to eat though!
Right next door to this building was the most impressive of all: the Sanssouci Palace. Sanssouci is French for “Without Worries”, because this was where Friedrich the 2nd would go for his summer retreat, and apparently French was the trendy language back in those days. We didn’t go inside for a tour since it was quite full, but enjoyed admiring it from the outside. The fountains in front of the Palace were full of water and everything!
I apologize for my photos…they don’t really do it justice at all!
In any case, we headed out of the park after that point and searched for a place to sit down and eat. Every outdoor patio was completely full thanks to the weather, although we were able to find one beer garden with space. Unfortunately this beer garden had space for a reason – the service was terrible. We spent a total of 1.5 hours there and never received food, so we left. Good thing we hadn’t been starving beforehand! We then got some ice cream, and walked through town for a while.
Our last stop before heading back to Berlin was checking out a few of the cathedrals. We didn’t go inside any, but we definitely made a good call going to Potsdam on a Sunday: when Mass was beginning, the bells from several churches all began to ring, and it was the most beautiful cacophony of sound I have ever heard. It’s hard to describe just how powerful that sound was. In any case, it made me want to watch “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.
After this, it was time to head back to Berlin. Seb and I went to a restaurant with several of my British friends for “endless schnitzel” – which was just as amazing as it sounds. 10 euros for all you can eat schnitzel and fries, plus one drink.
Apparently I had a lot more to say about Potsdam than what I originally thought! I’ll make my other updates quick.
A few weeks ago, I discovered that a friend of mine from the University of Victoria (she had been in my English Honours class) was in Berlin for a few days. We managed to get together and check out the East Side Gallery together. It felt a bit absurd to me that I’ve been in Berlin for so long and had never seen this gallery before! I was surprised to find out that it’s actually about three minutes away from my school. This gallery is basically a long portion of the Berlin Wall that is still intact, and has been painted on by people with a lot of talent. It was great to catch up with my friend, and experience a bit more of Berlin as a tourist!
I also had the chance to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Berlin. One of my British friends said that there was a St Patrick’s Day parade we should check out – according to the website, it looked like quite the big festival! In the end, the parade was basically made of four people under a sheet pretending to be a snake while St Patrick chased them with a stick, and the Berlin Pipe Band. It was interesting for me to check out the pipeband – it was quite small, and half of the members were under 11, but they certainly owned that parade! They had a very cool bass drum head – it had the Berlin bear playing pipes in a kilt! Hopefully you can see it in the pictures. We didn’t stick around for the festivities after the parade, but it was still fun to be part of the festivities!
My work has been going well lately. This week, the grade 10 students have a major oral exam in English – they have to speak in pairs for about 12 minutes in front of a teacher. While my conversation class has been slowly growing in size (I’ve gone from a regular three people to about seven), I suddenly had thirty grade 10 students come to me for help with their MSAs! I hope that what I told them was helpful: mostly it was basic language rules like when to use “many” versus “much”, and I had to explain that “funny” is not equivalent to “fun”. You don’t usually think that “doing sports is very funny”. This one backfired on me a bit when a German teacher used “funny” incorrectly the next day, but at least the students know what’s right.
I shall now conclude my blog with an update on what I will be doing next year. I have officially been accepted to Dalhousie University, and will begin my Master of Library and Information Studies there in the Fall! I am extremely excited. I have also decided to begin a whole new blog that will center around my library experiences, which you can find at http://thebagpippinlibrarian.wordpress.com/ Don’t worry, the “pippin” is on purpose as opposed to a mistake. I’ll try to connect one more link in case that one didn’t work: http://thebagpippinlibrarian.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/why-a-librarian/ I’ll still keep this blog going as well, but this one is more focused on my European adventures.
That is about all of my stories for now, but things are about to get very busy around here. On Monday, my Dad arrives in Berlin! I’m very much looking forward to seeing him. We have lots of plans for while he is visiting, including a short trip to Amsterdam. It may be a while before I write another blog, but by then I imagine I’ll have lots to tell you!
Thank you so much for reading. Sorry that it was such a long update – in any case, I hope you enjoyed it! Have a lovely rest of your week!