Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Greetings from East Germany!

When I last wrote, it seemed like the sun would never shine. Since that time, it has been simply lovely here. Spring flowers are blooming, birds chirping and we got the travel bug. As part of my husband's Fulbright scholarship, we as well as close to 600 Fulbrighters in Europe were invited to Berlin last week. It was a fun-filled time for all. We took in the sights, walked as far as our feet would take us and ate ourselves silly - thank goodness for all of the walking!

The German Fulbright Commission hosted their event at the Park Inn Hotel in Alexanderplatz, formerly in what was East Berlin. During our stay, the boys and I went with the other families and spouses to the Berlin zoo and to the Natural History Museum.

Memorial to Knut, Berlin's beloved polar bear

We also took a walk Unter den Linden (beneath the lime trees) toward the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag.

Just around the corner was the Holocaust Memorial, recently reopened in 2006. It is covered with 2711 dark grey pillars of varying heights.

Our travels took us past Checkpoint Charlie and the old American sector of Berlin. We also stopped at the fabulous Mauermuseum that provided us with a sense of how citizens tried to escape from East Berlin after the wall went up. We were able to see a section of the Berlin wall that remains standing.

There is an ever present reminder of the Berlin wall throughout the city, whether in markings in the pavement or pieces of the wall standing throughout the city.

Another highlight on our trip was visiting a few of the grand museums on Museum Island and taking in the beautiful views of the Dom.

Wrapping up our trip to East Germany, we took a train south to Dresden, located near the Czech Republic border. It was a wonderful place to visit, so different from Berlin and actually from the rest of Germany that we've seen so far. The first picture below is of a propaganda mosaic located on the wall of the Kulturpalast (a cultural center).
View along the river Elbe (above) and the Zwinger gartens (below).

As we made our way home with weary feet (utterly exhausted) it was wonderful to hear the chatter from our boys. They have seen and experienced so much. While at one of the Zwinger Museums, they had the chance to see an artist-in-training copying Johannes Vermeer's "Girl reading a letter at an open window." I've never seen them so fascinated. We've taken them to museum after museum, and suddenly art was coming to life before their eyes. How cool. Goodbye until next time. -Diedre

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