Prost to Germany
As I finished my month of traveling, I reflected upon some of the differences I saw between all of the different countries I visited. I had already visited France and Italy, and now that I was in Germany I could truly see what was special and unique about each country, and even made me think how different these countries are from my homeland (USA) and further think about developing countries such as my beautiful Colombia.
Visiting Munich, I noticed how clean the streets were, and because I had already lived in Berlin, I knew they recycled and that the German people were committed to the environment. One of the most amazing places I visited in Munich was the Englischer Garten, a massive park located in the middle of Munich that is much larger than Central Park in New York. While this might not mean much to people living in suburbs, it is impressive to see these parks in the middle of urban areas, and ever more astounding to see how much the community cares about these areas.
The Neuschwanstein Castle was also an amazing sight to see. This castle is surrounded by acres of green space, and the structure itself seems to float on top of the forest. The castle was constructed by King Ludwig who was obsessed with Wagner, a german composer, and whom the castle was dedicated to. Wagner composed fantastical operas that inspired the young king, and he based numerous areas of the castle to different operas from Wagner. The name of the castle refers to Ludwig's obsession with swans, and you can find these swans throughout the castle in the tapestries, sculptures, and even in the door handles. The castle looks as if it was plucked from a Disney movie and its completely magical to stare at.
We also visited other great sites in Munich such as the Deutsches Museum which boasts airplanes and a U-boat from the war, the Rathaus which has a beautiful bell tower with a small Glockenspiel (dolls come to life and tell two little stories), and Viktualienmarkt which is a market in the middle of town that has many fresh fruits and prepared foods. Overall, Munich seemed to be a very developed city, with clean streets and a top notch transportation system, that despite the construction, was always timely.
Returning to Berlin was painful in a way I had never experience before. Looking at all of the places I used to visit when I studied abroad in 2012 gave me a pain difficult to describe. This time around I looked at Berlin through the eyes of a tourist and it seemed like a completely different city from the city I came to love. The graffiti cover many walls throughout the city, and I noticed it wasn't as clean as I remember it to be... Berlin was one of the cities that inspired me to look at environmental issues because they were big on recycling and also pushed for increased use of public transportation. Nevertheless, I also was happy to see how many people visited Berlin and were curious to learn more about the history of this city, which was pivotal in WWII. My recommendation when you visit Berlin is do a walking tour with Sandeman's tours it will definitely orient you in the center of the city and give you a great historical background to start. Then visit the East Side Gallery, which boast many artistic imagery referring to freedom and political issues (which of course is very relevant today because the wall was taken down a mere 26 years ago! That is insane!). Of course you have to visit Alexanderplatz to observe the Fernsehturm or TV tower (visible from anywhere in Berlin). I would also try to visit Mauer Park which has a flea-market on Sundays boasting everything from clothes to honey. Overall, while I was extremely sad to see how dirty the city looked, the history, people, and culture of Berlin made me fall in love again.