By the way…

•June 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Here is the link to the page that has our final projects from Berlin. I will add the new link once my professor creates the other pages with the text and my picture. But for now, I hope you enjoy my project! (and everyone else’s – they all did amazing too).

Berlin 2009 Slideshows

More Philly pics and Berlin pics coming soon!

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Traveling through history…

•June 14, 2009 • Leave a Comment

On Thursday, my family and I left for our trip through Pennsylvania. Our expedition included stops at Gettysburg, Intercourse (in the Amish countryside), and finally, Philadelphia. Right now, I am sitting in our hotel in Philly, our last stop, but we have until Wednesday to enjoy the beautiful sites of this historic city. But to start at the beginning…

Our flight on Thursday was an interesting fiasco. I was playing russian roulette with my airplane flights this whole summer, and as it turns out, this last one – my fifth flight – was the winner. It ended up being delayed for about two hours, and it was only a three hour flight. Not only was the cabin filled with unhappy passengers (including the mother with two little girls next to me who was going to miss her connecting flight), but it was filled with warm stuffy air as we sat on the runway for what seemed like forever. When we finally arrived in the Philadelphia airport, th city was dreary from a recent rain. 

 We rented a car – a Chrysler 300! – and we drove to Gettysburg. When we arrived, we checked into the Gettysburg  Hotel, established in 1797, and  went for dinner at a local restaurant. Friday morning, we ate at the Lioncoln Diner, which was across the street from the historic train station that Lincoln arrived at for his Gettysburg address.

We took a tour of the Gettysburg National Military Park with a guide who showed us all of the significant areas of the park where the battle was fought. It was hard to imagine the mass carnage that occurred on July 1, 2 and 3 1863. There were numerous monuments that were created by the surviving soldiers and their families that stand in significant places throughout the park. Each monument was dedicated to a specific state’s regiment or battalion and was placed at the spot where they fought during the battle. The vastness of the battlefield was astounding, especially since the fighting reached into the city itself, and many historic buildings still show the scars of the fighting. We looked around the museum inside the visitor’s center and saw an amazing cyclorama painting that recreates one of the days of the battle.

That night, we ate at the Farnsworth House Inn restaurant, which was set in a historic 1800’s atmosphere with the servers dressed in period clothing. We then walked around some shopes and took pictures before it was time to meet up for our ghost tour back at the Farnsworth House. The tour was very interesting, and split into two parts. We first walked down to one area of the battlefield on the edge of town called the grove, where we heard stories about confederate soldiers who still walk among the land where their bodies still rest without a proper burial. Then, we were taken into the basement of the Farnsworth House to hear about the spirits who still linger from the trauma of the war. The house was actually commandeered by the confederates when the fighting was brought into the city. Sharpshooters occupied the attic to take out Union fighters while other soldiers strategically used the rest of the house for cover. Dead bodies and dying men scattered the house throughout the battle, and many of the spirits supposedly never left. One of the walls of the house still shows hundreds of bullet holes from the daily battles. Also, another friendlier but mischievious spirit remains behind in the house known as Jeremy, the 8-year-old boy. He was trampled outside the house by a horse carriage  and loves to mess with people and their electronics. The tour was exciting, creepy and funny, and I used my digital voice recorder throughout the experience. Hopefully, I may find that I caught some otherworldly sounds on my recorder to prove that Gettysburg truely is one of the most haunted places on Earth.

On Saturday, we took some last minute pictures at the graveyards where soldiers from the civil war to World War II rest in peace. Then, we began our journey to the town of Intercourse in the Amish country. We checked in again, and headed out to a delicious restaurant inside a former Amish home. It was all-you-can-eat country food that ended with shoefly pie.

On Sunday, we drove around the town of Intercourse where we browsed homemade quilt shops, knick-knack stores and other local specialty shops. To my surprise, in one of the “one person’s junk is another person’s treasure” stores, I found a Star Trek: Voyager collector’s cards deck among other Star Trek memorabilia. But that isn’t even the best part! I was inspired by my Star Trek find, and after looking through more old-school TV memorabilia stuff, I found a Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual written as if you were the cadet in the Star Fleet Academy!!! Although it was written from the Original Series’ viewpoint, it had Academy rules, regulations, layouts of ships, weapons and uniforms. It even had transporter and warp field technical information. I couldn’t believe that I had found this in a random knick-knack store in the Amish country!

After some more shopping and pictures, we finally drove to our last destination – Philadelphia. We checked into the Omni Hotel, and walked around the city a bit after our dinner at an Italian restaurant. Since then, I’ve been uploading my pictures to the computer and writing my blog. *I hope to upload my pictures to the blog in the next couple days*

Tomorrow, we are planning to check out Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Betsy Ross house among other historical things. I hope to have another blog entry about our upcoming adventures along with pictures from the trip very soon! Until then…goodnight from Philly!

Auf Wiedersehen, Berlin. Bis zum nächsten Mal.

•May 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Goodbye, Berlin. Until next time.

So, I write this as I sit in the Tegel airport, watch the rain, and wait to board the plane. This trip was beyond my expectations, and it has only increased my longing to come back here again and spend more time in the beautiful city of Berlin. I hope everyone enjoyed my postings and pictures, and I hope to continue the blog or start a new one to continue documenting my interesting adventures.

***I will be creating a new page on my blog in the next few days, and it will contain a whole bunch of new pictures that I couldn’t post on the main page of posts. If you would like to check out the extra pics, just keep checking back and I hope to create the page and upload them by this weekend.***

Apparently when I went through the security in the Tegel airport, my bra wire, pants buttons and Birkenstock buckles all set off the metal detector, so I got some “special attention” by one of the woman security guards. Nothing too serious, I simply got patted down and waved with the detector wand until she was convinced I was harmless. That doesn’t really make me look forward to the custums check in Newark airport…

I will probably post again by this weekend with my extra pictures page, but thanks again for virtually following me on my trip to Berlin!

PS: Here is a review of my last couple days with pictures, since I was too tired to post it last night…

On Sunday night, Emily, Vince and I joined Stine at her apartment to go out for dinner and take some awesome night pictures. We ate at a great Italian restaurant by her place, and then walked around the area until we ended up in a skate park/hangout that was filled with young people and graffiti. The art all over the abandoned train yard turned skate park was beautiful, and it was a pity that the city is considering tearing it down to build more apartments.

The art graffiti on the walls of the skate park are truly fantastic.

The art graffiti on the walls of the skate park are truly fantastic.

 

A piece of art lines the whole wall of one of the buildings.

A piece of art lines the whole wall of one of the buildings.

We began witht he intent to take some interesting night time pictures for the course, but soon the night turned into a photography experiment and lots of fun. The park had an area where there was red and green lights, and that combined with Vince’s tripod looked like a great opportunity to take fun and weird pictures. Emily and I are still waiting for Vince to send them to us, but I will post the pictures when I get them. Essentially, we used the tripod and a long shutter speed to take eerie and ghostly pictures of us standing around in the red light.

On Monday, I spent most of the day working on my project in SoundSlides, so I didn’t really get a chance to post pictures. The whole group went to Delores for dinner, which was the first mexican restaurant I saw in Berlin, and it resembled our Moe’s (except that it was MUCH better). Then I returned again to spend the rest of the night finishing my project.

On Tuesday, a group pf eight of us left for a six hour tour of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. It was breathtaking and thought-provoking. I’ll leave the pictures to evoke the feelings I felt while being there. It began to rain while we went on the tour, and the rolling rain clouds only added to the heavy atmosphere of the day.

 

Our tour guide shows us a layout of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.

Our tour guide shows us a layout of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.

 

Memorials sit in a row where barracks used to stand.

Memorials sit in a row where barracks used to stand.

A guard tower in the distance appears eerie in the rainy atmosphere.

A guard tower in the distance appears eerie in the rainy atmosphere.

A plant is caught in the barbed wire along one of the bordering walls.

A plant is caught in the barbed wire along one of the bordering walls.

The view from one of the infirmary rooms.

The view from one of the infirmary rooms.

Roses are left on an autopsy table in the infirmary.

Roses are left on an autopsy table in the infirmary.

A coffin drop connects the outside world to the basement of the infirmary.

A coffin drop connects the outside world to the basement of the infirmary.

At night, we headed to the TV Tower in Alexanderplatz to eat dinner high above the city of Berlin. We even caught sight of a rainbow that reached over the city of Berlin! It was a great experience, even if the food sucked (except for the cream of asparagus soup) and our waitress was terribly rude.

Me and the view of Berlin at 203 meters high.

Me and the view of Berlin at 203 meters high.

 

A rainbow made the night above the city even more beautiful.

A rainbow made the night above the city even more beautiful.

As for Wednesday, I finished my gift shopping and we headed for an early dinner to a Biergarten on the Muggelsee ( a beautiful lake). I finally had goulash soup and a side of potatoes and saurkraut! Emily and I headed back to the hotel after to edit pictures and pack for our departure.

And so I’m here, in the airport, about to board and fly back to America. It was a great experience, but I’m happy to come home. I look forward to planning my next trip to Europe – with a definite stop in Berlin.

All work and some play…

•May 24, 2009 • 1 Comment

I’ve been so busy with my project, I haven’t really had time to post any new pictures on my blog! So here’s a recap of the past few days:

On Friday, I went with Emily to meet up with Stine (our wonderful German friend) so that she could bring us to a Children’s Farm that Emily would use for her project. We got a chance to meet Stine at her apartment, which was a cute and comfortable flat in the middle of Friedrichshain, a well-known party district.

Stine's apartment is amazingly decorated.

Stine's apartment is amazingly decorated.

Along the way to the Children’s Farm, I was able to capture some interesting images of Berliner locals and their daily activities. I just love how everyone is laid back and never seems to be in a rush to anywhere.

A woman waters her plants on a sunny Friday afternoon.

A woman waters her plants on a sunny Friday afternoon.

 

A couple walks down a quiet street near the Children's Farm.

A couple walks down a quiet street near the Children's Farm.

When we arrived at the Children’s Farm, I was in awe: not only was it a place where children can be introduced to and play with farm animals, it was also a playground where kids can build and create their own environment. There were tools around for them to “work on” wooden playhouses and other great outside obstacles.

A young boy, Nino, uses a small saw to work on one of the playhouses.

A young boy, Nino, uses a small saw to work on one of the playhouses.

 

A little girl walks from one treehouse to another.

A little girl walks from one treehouse to another.

There were sandboxes and soccer nets, all mixed in with a petting zoo filled with goats, sheep and many other farm animals. It was such a contrast to American children’s vodeogame entertainment. A boy named Nino even invited me up into the playhouse to have a better view of the farm. They also served a healthy vegetarian lunch to all those who spent time in the farm.

A couple kiss while sitting on a bench in the Children's Farm.

A couple kiss while sitting on a bench in the Children's Farm.

 

Here is one of the many adorable and friendly goats that live at the farm.

Here is one of the many adorable and friendly goats that live at the farm.

After Emily had secured her contact at the Children’s Farm, we left to go back to the hotel so that I could get ready to take pictures of my contact during the bookstore’s weekly Friday night dinner. It was a fun experience to hang out at the bookstore among English and German speakers while everyone enjoyed a feast of food and alcohol. No one seemed to mind that I lurked around with my camera to capture my subject, Sophia, and her nightly routine of cooking, serving and socializing. By 11pm, Emily and I headed back to the hotel after a long day of working on our projects.

On Saturday, I spent most of the day at Another Country bookstore again, following around Sophia while she cleaned up the aftermath of the previous night’s festivities. I had some great conversations with her about many different things, and I told her if I do come back to Berlin in the future (and I’m sure I will now that I’ve fallen in love with the city), I will be sure st stop by Another Country. I spent the rest of Saturday night working on my audio and editing my pictures so that I could make sure I had everything I needed to be able to start creating my SoundSlides project.

Today, Sunday, Emily and I went by the Tiergarten market to check out some vendors and get some gifts. The atmosphere was lively and there were many people crowding around the small booths. Before we knew it, we had been browsing for over three hours. Later tonight, a few of us are meeting up with Stine by her apartment and we will hopefully take some awesome nighttime pictures of the Friedrichshain area. Supposedly some things are lit up at night, and it makes for some interesting pictures. I will hopefully post some of those pictures tomorrow if they turn out well.

Tomorrow I will mostly be in the hotel lobby finishing my project all day, so that some of us can go on a tour of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp on Tuesday (which is when our project is due). Thanks for being patient with my blog postings!

Bis dann! (Until then!)

Sightseeing is always best on a bike…

•May 21, 2009 • 4 Comments

On Tuesday we finally got to do our bike tour around Berlin with Blakley from Fat Tire Bike Tour. I had a wonderful time, and Berlin is the perfect place to bike around as a tourist, or even simply for transportation.

Mike Blakley, our guide for the bike tour, explains a bit of Berlin history as we stop by the former Berlin Wall.

Mike Blakley, our guide for the bike tour, explains a bit of Berlin history as we stop by the remaining strip of the Berlin Wall.

We spent a lot of time at the East Side Gallery, which is a long expanse of the Berlin wall that was left standing to display beautiful art that has been created by many different artists after the wall fell. Unfortunately, much of the art has been tagged over with graffiti and messages declaring “I was here,”, but there is currently a project underway to invite all of the artists back to repaint their art for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall this November.

Here I am posing in front of the remaining Berlin Wall in my bike, which was named Angie Merkel. Photo by Vince DelMonte.

Here I am posing in front of the remaining Berlin Wall on my bike, which was named Angie Merkel. Photo by Vince DelMonte.

 

This piece of art depicts East Berliners flooding through the wall in 1989.

This piece of art depicts East Berliners flooding through the wall in 1989.

We biked through Kreuzberg, which is a Turkish disctrict with a large immigrant population, and it was very interesting to see the different types of people that live in Berlin.

Pedestrians walk by in Kreuzberg, a predominantly Turkish district, during our bike tour.

Pedestrians walk by in Kreuzberg, a predominantly Turkish district, during our bike tour.

 

Visitors eat ice cream at the foot of a former East Berlin guard tower.

Visitors eat ice cream at the foot of a former East Berlin guard tower.

We then headed to the Treptower Park and Soviet Memorial, which was absolutely breathtaking. I’m not sure what I loved more: the gorgeous layout of bright green trees, or the massive monuments that stood as a memorial to the fallen Russian soldiers during World War II. As I walked through the park, I could imagine spending countless hours here, reading and relaxing in the quiet memorial.

A woman bikes through Treptower Park.

A woman bikes through Treptower Park.

After the bike tour ended, we all headed back to the hotel to get ready for our night at the Friedrichstadtpalast, a beautiful theater where we were going to see the show Qi. (If you click on Friedrichstadtpalast, you can see a short preview clip of the show we saw). It was a fantastic show filled with illusions, ice-skating, singing and insanely talented dancers. I feel that it was by far better than Cirque du Soleil!

Here we are on the steps of the Friedrichstadtpalast before the show Qi.

Here we are on the steps of the Friedrichstadtpalast before the show Qi.

On Wednesday, I left with a few of the other girls to check out Garage, the largest second-hand clothing store in Europe. It was pretty neat, and I picked up some new sunglasses and two re-usable bags that have interesting German print on them. We then ate at a really interesting vegetarian restaurant called Morgenrot (Morning Red), which had amazing hummus. 

Passengers wait for the U-Bahn to begin moving towards its next stop.

Passengers wait for the U-Bahn to begin moving towards its next stop.

As for today, I finally got to adventure off through the U-Bahn and S-Bahn system on my own, and I was quite successful. Despite the reduced transportation (today is the Germany’s Father’s Day), I was able to find my way around quite easily without looking like too much of a tourist.

I attempted to begin my photo project on an interesting subject that is involved with human rights issues, but I was unable to find him at the planned meet-up spot in Kreuzberg. Therefore, I will be leaving shortly to find a different subject for my project, hopefully at a specialty bookstore called Another Country, that features english books and nightly events for english-speakers.

Until tomorrow, tchüss! (See ya!)

A little bit of history and a little bit of exploration.

•May 18, 2009 • 3 Comments

Sunday was an exciting day of history and sightseeing with Lisa Geuther-Sharpe from Berlin Original Walks. She was a fantastic tour guide who knew wonderful bits about Berlin’s history that really provided a great insight into the personality of the city. I fell in love with the places we visited, and knowing the history behind them made it even more entrancing.

 

Here is one of the beautiful statues that were hidden in a bunker during World War II.

Here is one of the beautiful statues that was hidden in a bunker during World War II.

 

Another beautiful building we saw while on the walking tour.

Another beautiful building we saw while on the walking tour.

As part of the tour, we stopped at the Holocaust memorial called Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It was a heavy and thought-provoking creation, and the pictures hopefully display some of the many feelings evoked from wandering through the outside memorial.

 

The Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe.

The Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe.

 

This proves that there is always hope for life.

This proves that there is always hope for life.

When we got to the Brandenburg Gate, we took a group photo!

 

Our group at the Brandenburg Gate!

Our group at the Brandenburg Gate!

Towards the end of our tour, we walked along one of the areas where the outer Berlin Wall once stood. We saw remnants of the wall across one of the only remaining Nazi buildings, and it was hard to picture the vast obstacle of concrete, wire and blockades that kept many desperate East Berliners from seeking the freedom they were desperate for in West Berlin. We saw the roof of the Nazi building where an engineer who worked in the building designed a plan to escape East Berlin with his wife and son. With help from some West Berlin friends and a long cable connected from the roof to the free side of the wall, the engineer was able to successfully escape with his family in an attempt that later became a famous event in the eyes of both East and West Berliners.

We then crossed over a continuous line of bricks that represent where the outer wall once stood, and we passed into the former West Berlin. 

 

Here I am standing in both the former East and West Berlin.

Here I am standing in both the former East and West Berlin.

The tour ended at Checkpoint Charlie and I decided to take a picture with the guards (really actors). We then ate lunch at a small cafeteria, where I had falafels!

 

Here I am with the "soldiers" at Checkpoint Charlie.

Here I am with the "soldiers" at Checkpoint Charlie.

Later, we headed to Potsdamer Platz and the Sony Center to meet a 24-year-old German woman, Stine, and her sister, Isabelle. They both were amazingly sweet and very helpful with ideas for contacts for our stories. I look forward to hanging out with her again later this week.

 

This is the top of the outside Sony Center in Potsdamer Platz.

This is the top of the outside Sony Center in Potsdamer Platz.

As for today, we finally got some free time to explore the city on our own and search for contact ideas. Lauren, Kelly, Emily and I decided to go searching for some bookshops and eat at a vegetarian restaurant called Gorilla on Knesebeckstrasse in Charlottenberg. The food was AMAZING! I had minestrone soup and a hummus wrap with tofu. I even had black assam tea, yummy. On the way back, we saw some great art on the wall while waiting for the S-Bahn.

 

There is always amazing art on and around the walls of the U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations.

There is always amazing art on and around the walls of the U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations.

Before dinner, we met with Franka Bruns, a native german and freelance photojournalist in Berlin who has studied at Ohio Univeristy. She was a great inspiration to us all, and had very interesting insight into the world of photojournalism both in the U.S. and Berlin.

We had a group dinner at a Thai restaurant that was just down the street from our hotel. We had fun relaxing and talking about our possible story ideas, and then we headed back to the hotel to work on our blogs. I hope to have some great pictures after tomorrow, when we finally do our bike tour!!!

 

Emily, Lauren, me and Kelly pose for a picture at the Thai restaurant. The photo was taken by professor John Freeman.

Emily, Lauren, me and Kelly pose for a picture at the Thai restaurant. The photo was taken by professor John Freeman.

Guten Nacht!   (Good night!)

A day of adventure…and not by bike.

•May 16, 2009 • 2 Comments

When we woke up this morning, it was raining. Most of us decided at breakfast that we did not feel like biking for four hours in the rain, especially with our photo equipment. Therefore, professor Freeman rescheduled our tour for Monday, and we decided to see the Annie Lebovitz photography exhibit instead. It was an amazing and inspiring exhibit that focused on her work mostly from the 1990s onward. She is mainly known for her unique portrait pictures, mostly of celebrities.

A few of us watched one of the films about her in the exhibit, and when we finally walked outside, most of the group was gone. Professor Freeman was waiting for us stragglers, and the six of us decided to go to the downtown area of the former West Berlin. It was a bustling and energetic area, and we stopped to eat at an Asian vendor next to one of the remaining bombed churches that they are trying to renovate.

The bombed church in downtown former West Berlin.

The bombed church in downtown former West Berlin.

After snapping some photos for a bit, we decided to walk to an outside flea market before heading back to the hotel to regroup before our trip to a carnival in a Turkish district. As we were walking on a shortcut through a park, I noticed a large crowd of people that seemed to be the remnant of a massive protest we had seen around the area earlier that day. I got really excited to learn about the context of the protest, so I hurried down the street to take some pictures with Kelley and Emily while the rest of our small group stayed back with professor Freeman to take pictures in the park.

As it turns out, there were many different groups  – social rights, farmer’s rights, worker’s rights, women’s rights, socialists, anti-capitalists – that all came together to protest the current state of economic collapse that is reverberating throughout the country and hitting hard in Germany. According to one woman protester I spoke to, there were about 100,000 people that joined the protest that was organized for today – and from what I saw then and earlier, it was no exaggeration.

 

Protesters walk by with a sign that reads: Millions are stronger than a Millionare.

Protesters walk by with a sign that reads: Millions are stronger than a Millionare.

As an activist, I was astounded and impressed not only by the number of people who came together from so many different groups for one cause and rally, but the cooperation and organization that was involved with such a large demonstration. There was of course police blocking off streets and maintaining peace with their presence, but they seemed uninvolved and almost bored since most of the people appeared to be passionate yet peaceful.

Waiting for Action

A police officer reads the paper while protesters are winding down after the demonstration.

I just kept thinking to myself: this sort of protest against the current economic crisis on such a large scale with so many different groups could never take place in America, at least not as a peaceful rally. Politics aside, I was awed by and envious of the Berliners and their ability to voice their opinions with such a well-organized protest.

After getting caught up in the excitement of seeing the remnants of a foreign protest, we realized we had lost the rest of the group and decided to give up on the search for the flea market to find our way back to the hotel. We soon met up with the rest of the group and left for the carnival, which was hidden deep inside a park that no local seemed to know where it was. We finally arrived to a small but colorful carnival that had rides, games and lots and lots of food. I found a great vendor that gave me a monstrous heap of cotton candy for 1 Euro.

 

Yes, it is almost twice the size of my head...

Yes, it is almost twice the size of my head...

I spent the rest of the time taking pictures and strolling along people-watching.

The Wellenflug, one of the many rides at the carnival, looked beautiful as the night sky slowly got darker around 9pm.

The Wellenflug, one of the many rides at the carnival, looked beautiful as the night sky slowly got darker around 9pm.

We left as it began to gt dark, and once I got back to the hotel, I began my mission of Skyping and blogging. I must sleep now though, because we are leaving at 10:30am for a four hour walking tour tomorrow that should be a lot of fun. I hope to have more time tomorrow night to create a separate page in my blog to post more pictures of the trip.

Until then, auf Wiedersehen.