Blog Archives

FPSS Berlin Trip: Day Four – 16 February 2012

HEADS FOR HEIGHTS: Out of the windows of our bedrooms in the hostel, Jake, Sam, Will, and Jason. (IMG_8090)

After waking for the last time in Germany’s capital city, we all washed and dressed, and then proceeded to unpack everything we’d packed last night in a bid to save time this morning, and repack our cases with all of that plus the things like pyjamas and wash-bags that we’d been unable to pack beforehand. We left our cases in our rooms while we ate breakfast downstairs, and then returned upstairs awaiting our rooms to be OK-ed for tidiness by the teachers. I was in one of the last dormitories to be checked, but I managed to get to the ground floor before most of my colleagues by taking the stairs as opposed to the lift. "You’re mad" they (rather oddly) told me, to which my reply was: "Six flights of stairs? Pftt. I ran up them with my case on Day One – why shouldn’t I run back down them now?"

Surprisingly, the "free luggage room", as boasted by the hostel’s website, where we would leave our valuables and luggage during the day, turned out to be the disabled loo. As we piled up cases around the sink, toilet, and hand-dryer, Mr Shire and I both had a horrible vision of a disabled person needing to use the room, and opening the door to reveal all our bags.

WALL OF A GENERATION: A preserved section on the Berlin Wall. (IMG_8129)

Travelling by train again, at 10:30am we arrived at Bernauer Straße, the location of one of the longest preserved sections of the Berlin Wall. One enters the memorial park (created on the former East Berlin side in 1999) through a missing section of the wall, where one’s greeted by an outdoor display of the faces of those who died trying to escape from East to West. Because the wall effectively went up overnight in August 1961, residents of the street who had, until that point, been able to pretty freely cross from one side to the other, were trapped on the East German side and unable to meet neighbours over-the-road. Like fifty other households, Ida Siekmann decided to jump out of her flat’s window, but she did so just before the West Berlin Fire Department had time to open the jumping-sheet, therefore becoming the first casualty of the Berlin Wall. Soon, the windows of all of the houses were (like the doorways) walled-up and occupants forced to leave, as the houses were demolished to make way for extra fortification to the wall.

GROUP PHOTO: Taken by tour leader Chris from organiser NST, this is our party at the Berlin Wall. (IMG_8121)

Read the rest of this entry

FPSS Berlin Trip: Day Three – 15 February 2012

The day began with somewhat of a rush, and despite setting my alarm with plenty of time to get washed and dressed, the ‘Snooze’ button was just too tempting. As a result, we had just half an hour for the four of us to get through the shower and to put on some threads, before breakfast at 7:30am.

ALL ABOARD THE MAGIC BUS: We were driven to Sachsenhausen by coach. (IMG_7841)

The reason behind the push for time was because we would be spending a few hours at the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, 75 minutes away by coach. Though I’d brought my iPod dock along with me, in the event I didn’t actually get it out, partly because the majority of the rest of the group were using the time to have another forty winks, but mainly because I thought it inappropriate for us all to arrive merry and bubbly after a coach singalong to One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful.

SICKENING IRONY: We arrived at Sachsenhausen through the door. (IMG_7853)

Read the rest of this entry

FPSS Berlin Trip: Day Two – 14 February 2012

Despite last night putting my headphones in and setting my iPod to run its ‘Bell Tower’ alarm clock function at 6:30am this morning, I was somewhat surprised to hear the distant sound of church bells at half-past-the-hour. I soon realised, however, that my Skullcandys had fallen out of my ears during turning in bed, and the distant sound was in fact originating from the device.

PRE-SUN: The morning sky. (IMG_7508)

I was one of only a few who’d chosen to get up early and, accompanied by Mr Boniface, “watch the sun rise”. Feeling like Willie Wonka in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, we pushed the button in the lift marked ‘Rooftop’ and ascended to the top of the building again, as we’d done yesterday evening. There were no golden rays – we were too early – so I took a simple picture of the skyline and went downstairs.

MORNING SUN: The sun rises over Berlin. (IMG_7514)

Read the rest of this entry