Countries Visited So Far Click Each For More Info

Entries in Germany (2)

Reverse Commute

656867-1113222-thumbnail.jpgWhile most Jews tend to go FROM Germany TO Israel, we decided to do it in reverse. Why Germany? No good reason. We had an extra week before we needed to be in London and it seemed as good a place as any. Granted, we bought the plane ticket before realizing it’s absolutely freezing this time of year. Our first destination was Cologne. Near the French border, Cologne is a little more laid back than your typical German city. Very charming and picturesque, and not very crowded at the moment which is a welcome change from Jerusalem.

656867-1113225-thumbnail.jpgThe main thing to do while in Cologne is visit The Dom, an enormous and imposing gothic cathedral in the center of the city. It truly is impressive, and we’ve seen our share of cathedrals by now. We decided to be troopers and climb the 510 stairs to the top of the spire. As usual, I huffed and puffed my way up and couldn’t stop telling myself how awesome I was for making it all the way, only to see a bunch of old ladies at the top. This is a common theme of our trip and we still don’t understand it.

656867-1113228-thumbnail.jpgThe rest of our time in Cologne was spent wandering around the old streets and shops. We took the cable car from the Zoo across the Rhine, walked through all of the parks with their many colored leaves changing for fall, had Italian, Mexican, and Indian food but no German food, and went to the Media Center, a lifelong dream of mine. Well, not really, but it looked cool on the map and I was determined to get there. We probably would have stayed a day longer, but as usual our hotel had an awful internet connection so we decided to hop a train to Hamburg.

656867-1113233-thumbnail.jpgThe four hour train ride was relatively uneventful, and upon arriving at our hotel we were met with yet another bad internet connection. So bad that we had no choice but to switch hotels, which really puts us in a bad mood. But we made the switch, just in time for me to start in on the work day, and then before I knew it dinner time was upon us. Obviously while in Hamburg one must have a hamburger. In reality, hamburgers have nothing to do with this place, but I’ll cling to any excuse to eat one. Now it is morning, another dark grey sky with constant threat of rain, but we have been so amazingly lucky this trip with weather that there is no room to complain. We shall wander around as Wandering Walkers do, knowing that this is one of the final cities we will wander this trip.

Unexpected Quaint Germany!

656867-1120496-thumbnail.jpgHad it not been for a cheap and direct flight from Tel Aviv to Cologne, I couldn’t have expected to find myself in Germany of all countries. Of course the main images I had were laden with the atrocities of the Holocaust – I really had no other strong sense of what it would be like here. Although the cold weather has been a shock to our system, our time here has really turned out to be a wonderful experience. I never would have thought I’d use the words “quaint” and Germany in the same sentence, but I feel that really sums up much of the character of this country.

656867-1120505-thumbnail.jpgEven the large cities of Hamburg and Berlin have a “small city” charm to them. The lack of high rises, the tree lined streets, the rivers that cut directly thru them, the beautiful monuments, clock towers, churches and synagogues, and the distinct character in each neighborhood gives these cities a very homey feel. I’m not saying that Berlin isn’t a ginormous town, but unlike the frenetic cities of Tokyo or Bangkok, it doesn’t feel overwhelming.

656867-1120516-thumbnail.jpgWe’ve managed to cover a lot of ground in Berlin on foot, spending hours each day roaming the city. After walking for 5 hours yesterday, we realized when consulting the map that we had only covered about 1/10th of the city. Although this town has a lot of history, many of the historical structures were destroyed during the war. One of the newest installations is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe opened in 2005. This is a very poignant memorial that occupies 5 acres of land in a very central location in the city. The 2,711 coffin like structures that are arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field, create a serene and confusing atmosphere in which you enter into.

656867-1120528-thumbnail.jpgWhat has been incredible for us is seeing pieces of the resurrecting Jewish culture and institutions throughout the city. There are many synagogues, kosher restaurants, Holocaust memorials, Jewish museums, all which are on the forefront. That’s not to say we haven’t taken notice of the large amounts of security personnel that are guarding these Jewish places, but it still has made us happy to see Jewish life beginning to thrive here.

656867-1120535-thumbnail.jpgOn a non-kosher note, I have to mention the delicious bratwurst we indulged in a couple days ago. These are the sort of things we don’t typically eat, but figured while in Germany we had to splurge on this juicy, flavorful piece of goodness. Jason of course was beaming like a proud parent as he watched me eat the thing, since this is normally not my style!