Living in Germany for the last five-ish months has been a fantastic experience. After settling in, and starting to meet people I started to do some traveling, including visiting Strasbourg France, Mainz Germany, Wiesbaden Germany, Rothenburg Germany, and Berlin. Aside from the variety of castles that I've been able to experience, it has been amazing to see the history that is displayed throughout Germany.
This last weekend, I had the pleasure of being able to visit Berlin, Germany for a New Years celebration with a few friends of mine I've come to know here in Germany. I had a pretty awesome time there. Berlin has become a rather fascinating experience. To think, that not even 40 years ago it was rather difficult to enter and exit portions of Germany and Berlin. For our stay, my friend organized a home away (www.homeaway.com) where you can stay in an apartment with a group, cheaper than a hotel. I'll admit, the apartment was a little lackluster, but if you spend all your time in the hotel/apartment while visiting a new place then you are doing something wrong. :-)
The first day, after driving 5 hours to get there (autobahns are fun to drive on! Just make sure you stay out of the left lane if you're not going greater than 160 kph), we started exploring and came upon a Christmas Market that was still going. It was a great time, enjoying glühwein and festival food around a fire pit in the slightly chilly weather. After that we also enjoyed a ride around the Ferris Wheel that was set up. All in all a great day.
We took the opportunity to partake in a walking tour (http://www.neweuropetours.eu/) and I have to say it was an awesome experience. The tour guide we had was amazing. She gave great historical points and nuggets of information that made the trip well worth it. (Did I mention, it's free? Though I highly recommend donating to this amazing tour when complete) In our walk around Berlin we saw some amazing things, things like Brandenburg Gate and the Holocaust Memorial. The Holocaust Memorial is quite an experience.
After seeing many other sites and exploring, including seeing Museum Island, we went to a party which allowed us to go on top of a building and see the New Years celebration in Berlin. Now Berlin, and Germany in general, doesn't treat fireworks the same way as I was used too from the United States. It isn't a celebration financed and organized by the locate city as much as it is a free-for-all by all the local citizens who want to celebrate and shoot off fireworks. Literally, when midnight came around, the entire city of Berlin came alive with explosions of color and light. An amazing experience.
Our next, and last day, was a low key and relaxed one. We explored some more and tried some local restaurants. I'll say my photos don't do the experience justice, but I highly recommend visiting Germany, and Berlin if possible. New Years is fantastic, Christmas Markets are amazing, and all the other festivals throughout the year are something to behold as well. My experience was an awesome one.
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