Wednesday, July 7, 2010

World Cup FEVER!!!!

I am never watching the world cup in the states again... It would just be too disappointing compared to being here! I can't even describe to you the feeling. The intensity. The INSANITY!!! I love every moment of it! I think I have watched more soccer games (I have to try really hard to say soccer now instead of football) during this world cup than I have my entire life! I am not even kidding you.... :) But since I can't really explain to you all of it... I will just put up videos from the games and pictures. Enjoy football in Europe!!!

Yeah... that is me. That is where I watched a couple games :)

The above video is just the crowds at a game... it was INSANE!!!

This is the view from my ledge. You can't see the huge crowd in there.. but it is insane! Everytime there is a score.. You get covered in beer cause people start waving their arms :)


Monday, July 5, 2010

2 year anniversary!

July 5, 2008 is a day I will never forget. To the rest of the world it was just another day. For me, it was a life altering day. This was the day that I got sealed to my family in the temple. I know a lot of you know what that means, but I also know some of you don’t. It is hard for me to explain exactly what that is, but I am going to try.

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I believe in it with my whole heart and soul. There is nothing that could make me happier and I have seen the difference it makes in my life and the lives of others. In my church we believe that there is life after death. That there is more.

In the temple there are certain ordinances performed that last longer than this life. Things that death can’t touch or effect. When I went to the temple with my family to the temple, I was sealed to them. In simple terms it means I will be connected to my family forever. Not just until death, but for all eternity.

There are times when I am here in Germany that I really miss my family. Ok, I honestly miss them a lot. They are my favorite people ever and I love being around them. The thought that no matter what happens to us in this life, that I will have them… That makes it ok. I may miss out on seeing them for a year, but knowing that I get them forever makes it better. Puts it all in perspective.

So on this anniversary of the day that I got sealed to my family, I just want to tell everyone how happy I am! How happy this all makes me. I love my family so much and I love that I never really have to say goodbye to them thanks to my Lord. I know he really does love me and cares so much for me. I hope you all have an amazing day. May you be as happy as I am today!!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Better late than never right? This is Leipzig. Leipzig, this is everyone :)

Debbie :) Love the girl! We had too much fun dancing
This is what you find when you live in Germany with a very German name. Your name is on EVERYTHING!

No idea what this is... I just liked it.
Ashley, Esther, me, and Erika. We all better hang out again sometime. It was strange not seeing them everyday...

To say I have been neglecting my blog would be an understatement. The great part of this all though… Is the fact that it is a blog! The only feelings it has, are the ones I give it. I guess I have been long overdue for that.

The reason I have not written anything lately, is because I have not really been on any trips or anything and writing about my everyday life…. Well I would have been writing the same things over and over. I think the only thing that has changed (who knows when this changed and if I mentioned it), is my biking habits. I usually bike about 24 miles twice a weeks to the church. It is actually a really fun little ride. I will probably include a video of it next time I go.

Ok, back to the point. Months ago I was told about a YSA (JAE auf Deutsch) convention and I automatically wrote it off. I didn’t really see it happening since I have work and why would I randomly have from a Wednesday to a Sunday off? Wrote it off, never thought about it again. THEN I was sitting there in Church on May 9th (I am being specific for myself later on when I don’t remember these things. Deal with it.) And there was some mention of it. I leaned over to Em and realized that I did in fact have from Wednesday to Sunday off. No idea why still, but I did and that is what mattered. I was up in the air about it, then Monday some stuff happened that finally pushed me over the edge or off the fence, and I decided I was going.

The convention was in Leipzig, so after chatting with Em and phone calls I had a ride. Awesome! Had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it was getting me out of Frankfurt. The car ride was a lot longer than I would have liked. It was a long weekend so EVERYONE was going somewhere. But here… There are not too many ways to get away. So everyone is using the same road. AH! Here we are, stuck in a parking lot of an autobahn. Sad really. We finally got there at about 1 in the morning. Just in time to help clean up. Not the best start, but again, I was out of Frankfurt.

We (meaning all of the YSA’s. From Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and well a bunch of random Americans) were all staying in this old gym. One floor for the guys and the next for the girls. Us girls lucked out :) we got to sleep on the old sweat smelling carpet floor with the toilets that kept breaking. Oy. At this point in time I don’t even care. I worked 10 hours that day, been awake since 6:30 in the morning and it was coming close to 3. I could have slept anywhere.

At 5:30 in the morning I discovered something. I am not a European girl. I will give them this… They look AMAZING! I am sorry… I couldn’t do it. I was woken up at 5:30 as they started getting ready for the day, blow dryers going, hair brushes flying, even though they hadn’t gotten to bed till 3 as well. I was content to roll over and ignore them until about 8:30 since we didn’t have to get to breakfast until 9.

This brings us to Thursday. I was actually annoyed the most with this day. Everyone was speaking German (which is to be expected. I am still in Germany), but nobody was trying to help me be less confused and I had a hard time with that. We were doing this scavenger hunt, and I MIGHT be a little competitive. Possibly. But I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t help, write, look. Nothing. Everyone was just going and I was left in the dark catching a few words that were not helpful at all (I don’t know why the word potatoe sticks out so much to me, but it does. Not helpful though). Someone in our group wasn’t feeling very well, and it gave me an excuse to leave. I couldn’t stand being useless anymore.

We went back to the institute building and there was a pool table! Oh I was happy. So I started playing a game with someone and since I was slightly angry, wondering why in the world I was there. The great thing about playing pool when I am mad… I rock. I somehow make these insanely amazing shots! Everything is just perfect. BUT when that happens, it is hard to stay mad when I am being that amazing. I can’t help but smile. Then my game is just not as good, and I end up losing even though I was doing fantastic. Oh well. I needed that.

There was also a bunch of Americans there (like 6 of them), and they were in Dresden doing a study abroad thing, and so they came to the convention as well, since they were there. Anytime I would try to talk to someone to get clarification about what was going on, they would try to put me back with my group, then were confused when I would tell them I wasn’t with that group. That I actually LIVED in Germany. They couldn’t quite get that one :)

Most of that day was kind of a blur. I was really tired and most of the thing I did was just get to know people. I really met some fantastic people that I never want to lose contact with. OH! I remember! We had little classes. Not going to lie… didn’t get much out of them. The whole language barrier thing played a big factor in that, mixed with sleep deprivation. The second class I had a translator. Kinda. Tony was from Ogden and served his mission in Leipzig and was living in Stuttgart doing… an internship? I think. Anyways, he tried translating, but it didn’t end so well. Pretty much we just ended up talking since he would forget to translate, I would forget to focus and listen, and the teacher was an odd duck :)

Afterwards we were having a movie night. There were games in the other rooms and I wasn’t really ready to sit down. I didn’t feel like sleeping and if I tried to watch a movie I would have been out! I heard them gathering people for a game and I couldn’t help but join! Werewolf. I played this game time and time again with friends from home and I was so excited to play something I ROCKED at and knew. I learned that it is significantly harder in German. The game is like Mafia, if you have played that one, and it is all about trying to convince people you are innocent and that the other people are the werewolves killing everyone.

Like usual, I was a werewolf. This was bound to be a fun game. I had someone translating for me, Jan. Rockstar of a translator. It was hard to get them playing because very few people had ever played it and they weren’t quite sure how to make it work. I was worried about Jan and if he would keep translating when my head popped up as a werewolf. He just kept on going! Never skipped a beat and became the best asset since everyone assumed he wouldn’t do that! Amazing! It was funny when he would forget to listen and I would ask what is going on. His reply “Well this guy over here, he says he doesn’t like your haircut.”. The first time he said that it totally caught me off guard! That has NEVER happened to me! Not the bad haircut comment (come on, if you have known me for a while you know there have been a few), but someone that I had just met was messing with me! It is sad how much I have missed that. I miss smack talk ( I will get back to that one) and I miss being made fun of in a fun way. Dinner is just not the same without someone getting insulted.

As usual with that game, I won (thanks to Jan they didn’t see it coming!). I decided I didn’t want to do another round. It is just not as fun when you can’t tell what is going on. I would take my victory and walk away. I ended up sitting down and talking to Ashley, Esther, F…… Why can’t I remember his name?! I remember that it started with an F and that I just wanted to keep calling him Fabio because that is the only F name that comes to mind after Frieda. This is going to bug me… He was really cool too! AH! Anyways. We were sitting there talking about our stories. What brought us to the church. When we kinda got our testimonies. It was really cool to hear others and share mine. Then somehow it turned into this singing circle. Ashley and Debby were singing with this girl, who I don’t know her name! I feel awful but I don’t remember it! They were amazing. I couldn’t believe the talent in that little circle! Florian (THAT IS WHAT IT WAS!!!) was beatboxing to the songs (phenomenal), girl whos name I forgot was playing the guitar, Ian, Ashley and Debby were singing. Goodness! I don’t know if there is something in the water here, but I am going to drink more of it in case I start singing anything like these guys! Amazing.

Cleaning up, going back, and the cycle starts again. Girls waking up and getting ready for the day. I was on the verge of dying at this point. All I wanted was a shower. But well… I don’t do communal showers. I was trying to find a way to make this work. I was contemplating waking up at like 4 in the morning to shower then go back to sleep. Luckily I was informed that someone had found a single shower downstairs. I was the happiest person you could have found! AH! Just another point proving that I make a crappy European girl. That is normal for them, not me. Nope nope nope.

After another night of sleeping on a lovely cold floor and waking up earlier than I would have liked, we headed over to the church to eat breakfast and get ready to play. I was really excited. We were playing volleyball! I couldn’t tell you the last time I got to play volleyball! I was still a little annoyed with some things and this was my life line. I don’t write too much about my emotions on my blog, cause I think it is strange to tell the world these things, so I will just leave it as, if I didn’t get to play volleyball I might have accidentally killed someone with my emotions. Even though nothing was their fault. They were just there.

There were a few hang ups trying to get to where they were playing volleyball. I almost had a break down when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to play. Luckily I got there. It was a really cool place. It was indoor beach volleyball. After a few dives I was covered in sand. It was everywhere. Ears, toes, hair, everywhere.

I learned something funny then though about Europeans and volleyball. When it comes to soccer (it is really hard to focus and think if I should write soccer or fußball) they rock. They KILL! It is amazing. But for the most part… they don’t really play volleyball. There were a few times they would try and call some weird rule because it made sense in their minds. Like when I hit the ball when I was out of bounds. That is when I realized I couldn’t play this game for real. I just had to relax and play. No score, just laughing.

A lot was learned about the German people during this time. I was having fun smack talking, cause that is what you do :) Half the fun of the game. Well I decided I wanted to learn to smack talk in German. Apparently Germans don’t really smack talk, or don’t understand the concept of what I was trying to do. Which I just don’t get. Have you ever seen a German at a soccer game?? The competition is there. So the smack talking should be as well, right? Sadly I didn’t learn how to smack talk in German. Still on my list of things to do, but it was just going to have to wait for another day.

After this long day of running around and playing in sand, all I wanted was a shower. I was about to break down and deal with communal shower issues. Then my lovely American friend Erika informed me that she found individual showers on the bottom floor! Oh bless her soul!

Feeling clean, it was off to the dance! If you have been following the blog, you will remember when I talked about how odd the dances here were and I didn’t know how I felt about them. I LOVE THEM NOW!!!! I pretty much have the disco fox down, and I learned that when I was confuse and wondering why I couldn’t figure it out and what was wrong with me… It was the guys who couldn’t keep a beat. Now to find a guy back home that can disco fox….. hmmm…

The next day was mostly just to ourselves and enjoying the city. All the sleeping on a cold floor had gotten to me. I was starting to get sick. All I wanted was a Mcflurry. So I got me one :) Tony was smart enough not to argue with me when I was sick, and instead just would tell me when I was being grumpy. I avoided some people cause I knew I was too grumpy to be around people.

Then it was off to dinner and another dance. I was feeling a bit more sick, and knew it was going to get worse. You know when that happens? When you just know it is going to be a bad one? Well I decided to take the defense. I talked to my friend Esther and she found two guys to give me a blessing. Funny thing… It was in German :) I was able to catch a few words here and there, but that didn’t matter. It is really amazing that the Spirit has no language. I felt the Spirit so strong and knew everything was going to be ok. Esther translated some of it for me after and it was great. No I didn’t magically get better, but I started feeling better, and it wasn’t that bad. I felt fine, just had the sniffles for a while.

This brings us to our last day there. Sunday. We just had sacrament and I somehow managed to end up at the stand to bear my testimony. Before I went up I had Esther translate some things I didn’t know how to say so I could bear my testimony. I have NEVER been that scared in my life to bear my testimony. I started in English, and then went to start my testimony and got to “I would like…” then realized I didn’t ask how to say bear my testimony. Typical. Oh well. I kinda just blurted out something like “ooops, I don’t know how to say bear my testimony in German” and someone behind me said it, but I couldn’t understand. I was still freaking out a bit. So I just kinda mumbled nothing and people chuckled and forgave me. I then said my testimony in German, the little paper in my hand shaking like mad, but I did it :) I still feel rather proud of that.

Then it was time for goodbyes. I didn’t like that part so much. But now I have reasons to go to some of the places I should see. Esther lives in Austria where Sound of Music was filmed, and she says it looks just the same, so I will need to come and visit her down there for my sound of music tour :)

Honestly I am really glad I went. I almost didn’t go, and I would have been missing out on a lot if I had stayed home. I also was told once I got home that Leipzig is where my Grandpa was born :) that makes me so happy!!! Brings new meaning to ‘The Fatherland’ ;)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ah memories :)

I have been taking lovely strolls down memory lane recently. It is the little things that trigger it. The flowers are blooming and the... I don't know what type of trees they are ACTUALLY called... The popcorn trees though, they bring back some good times. Picking them off of the tree in the back yard, picking them on Mothers Day, then walking down the road and getting lilacs to go with them to give to my mommy and Nana.

Then there are things like the smell of Jack Daniels BBQ sauce. I LOVE THAT SMELL! No, it is not the same as flowers, but divine all the same. Brings back memories of midnight meals with Nat, where we I made the chicken or steak, she made the mashed potatoes, and we would dip the meat into the Jack Daniels. Yum!

I am currently melting chocolate, which reminds me of the time where Frieda and I melted chocolate on a plate, and since it was hot we did the only thing sensible to two kids. We threw it around like a frisbee. I don't remember eating it (Since we kept dropping it and putting our fingers in it. It was a frisbee after all), but Fred is convinced we did.

Each and every time I go shopping and try on something new, I just about leave the dressing room to ask my sisters/friends who are like sisters, what they think about it. Then I hear the people next to me chattering along in German and I remember that they are not out there.

Right now I am in the process of making chocolate chip cookies, which always reminds me of cooking with Jenn. I remember making them all the time at her house, and ever remember the time I made it with a tablespoon of salt instead of a teaspoon. I threw it out before Jenn got back (I think this was one of the times I kicked her out of the house and told her to go have a date while I watched the kids).

The song 'Low' just came on, and while it is not the best song, it still brings up memories. It is the song that they were playing on the boat the first time I really went wake boarding. Apparently it was the perfect song. I got up my very fist time. I still feel rather proud of that fact.

And it seems that the song "Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy" has been coming on my ipod more often recently. This song will ALWAYS remind me of riding around in the jeep. My brother would drive me to school sometimes, and when this song would come on, we would crank it up and sing along. And when he was on his honeymoon and I was watching his jeep for him, I always would make sure to play this song at least once. It was just what you did in the jeep. That song and Incubus's "Warning". Perfect song for that sound system!

There are just so many tiny little things that remind me of people. Things that they probably don't remember and if I explained what that little thing meant to me, it would probably shock them. So just remember, it is really about the little things and that you never know what effect something small you do can do to a person. Make it something good :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday and what it means to me.

Recently I have been very reminiscent, and with it being Easter and Conference weekend I decided to do something I don't normally do. Generally I have a decently strict rule of not sharing too much of my emotions or my life on my blog. I usually try and stick to things about my trip and what I want to make sure to remember. Today I am going to share more of me here. It is Easter, and today means more to me than colored eggs and candy (don't get me wrong, I LOVE those, but there is more.)

The last few weeks I have been struggling with homesickness. I have come to realize even more how much I love my family. All of them. From my sisters (and a cousin who is like a sister to me) who laugh with me at all hours of the night, my parents who always love and support me. My niece who now can say my name and anytime she sees the computer says it. Brothers who, once you have gotten comfortable on the couch after Thanksgiving dinner, will pounce on top of you. A little brother who is easily my favorite punching bag of all time :) My family in Washington, I still remember making Isaak's Birthday cake on the grill and cuddling up together cause the power was knocked out for days. My Grandparents are some of the most amazing people you will ever meet. The things they have done and been through never fails to amaze me. Along with my biological family, I miss my friends who are like family to me. You all know who you are, you are the ones that are there for me when I am happy or grumpy. Smiling or crying. Just like my biological family is. So remember, no matter where I am in the world, I love you.

As I mentioned it is conference weekend. One of my favorite times of the year. Not only do I get to be spiritually uplifted by the words of a living prophet, I have lasting memories from this. I still remember growing up and watching this at Nana's house in Cedar Fort. No idea why, but they let me, D.Jay, Jace, ShaNeil, and Cale watch conference alone in the basement. One of the years we got candy from the Country Store and were watching it while playing a game of poker with the candy. Yes, I see the irony behind it all. Another year, we played hiding-go-seek with the volume on the TV really loud. Granted I probably didn't learn a whole lot these times from conference, but I have some lasting memories with me little brother and cousins that make me laugh when I think about it.

On this lovely Easter Sunday, I also want to reflect on all my Savior has done for me. While I may not have memories with him in them exactly like the ones I have mentioned above, I have felt him in my life. There have been times when I felt like everything was falling apart and I didn't know what I was going to do. He was there for me. There were times where I just needed extra love, He sent it to me. There is no doubt in my mind that Christ lives. He is there for us, and he loves us.

I know that there are probably some people out there laughing at this. Or think that there must me something wrong with me. It makes me sad to see when people don't have the love of Christ in their lives. I don't know what I would do without it. It is the most amazing thing, and I want to shout it out to everyone! For now I will just have to settle for whoever reads this blog. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and I love it. I love my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and know that they love me as well. I hope you all have an amazing Easter and that you remember what we are celebrating. Mathew 28:6- He is not here, He is risen.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sunday in Berlin. Best part of the trip!!!

(I still have no idea what this sign is trying to tell me not to do...)

This is the last part of my trip?? I feel so accomplished! I haven't even been back a week yet! Paris took me like a month to write! This was my favorite day though. This is my Sunday in Berlin. In my other blog I mentioned my Grandpa's cousin and his story in Berlin. In his book he mentions the name of the ward where he was married. While doing my research I discovered that there is still a ward by that name. Could it really be the same one or the same place? Only one way to find out. So putting on my new shoes I bought in Berlin (How could I not buy them? They were the last pair, my size, and on an insanely great sale.), and dodging past the drunks who were still out partying. The clubs were still blaring music, and I was on my way to church :) I kinda stuck out, but I am getting more and more use to it.

I managed to find my way to the stop I wanted no issues. I was pretty sure I was walking the right way, but wasn't sure. Then I saw it. It was like my first Sunday in Frankfurt all over again. I was so happy to see the church. Before I walked in I took a deep breath ready to brace myself. I didn't want to get my hopes up too high in case it wasn't the same church. I made it to the chapel and was about ready to cry. It was the exact church. Same light fixture, same everything. No doubt in my mind, this was the church Herbert married his sweetheart in on September 28th,1951. That moment right there, made my whole trip. That was my highlight. I got a picture of the chapel and tried to take a picture of the original I have. I know it is hard to make out, but look and you can see it.

Amazing. Relief Society was first, and somehow I managed to sit in the section with other English speakers. I had no idea, then I realized I could understand them and was amazed. After that I go to the single adults class, and my world gets smaller. I am introduced to Christina. She is an au pair from the US too! Imagine that. This is how the conversation went.
"Hey were are you from?"
"I am from Utah, where are you from?"
"Oh really what part?"
"Seattle area."
"Hey I lived there for a while too, which part?"
"Widbey Island."
Now, for those of you who don't know, when I was living in Provo I adopted me a little brother. He is from a little island in Washington called Widbey Island. The conversation continues with me asking "Do you know Sam Parker?"
She stares at me in disbelief and just responds with a "You are kidding me!? He is like a brother to me!!" So there I was, standing in a church where in 1951 someone in my family history was married, talking to a girl that knew one of my favorite people ever! Small little Mormon world. I LOVE IT!

Her and I had a lot of fun talking and being shocked. I really wish she lived closer to me, what is with me and making friends who don't live by me?! Oh well, I figure I will run into her again somewhere random. Seattle, Provo, Barcelona, who knows?

After that I went to the Rathaus Schoeneberg, which was the other place that Herbert might have been married. The picture I have of their wedding day is hard to make out, but without a doubt this is the wrong place. It was still worth the shop. There was a swap meet going on and they had massive amounts of books! I was looking for an old copy of Grimm Fairytales, since I have now started a collection of them. While I was looking the guy selling them just kept repeating "one euro, books are one euro" In German to all of us looking through the books. I didn't see any Grimms books, so I decided to ask him. I had no idea how to even start that one so I asked in English. He said he didn't think they did so I then just told him that I wanted the two books in my hand. "Five euro" was what he said to me.

Hearing that load of crap come out of his mouth, I put on my nanny face. The face I use when a kid lies to me and I know it. And by my face they know they screwed up as well. "Didn't you just say that all of these books are one euro?" You little twerp! Just because I can't speak German doesn't mean I can't understand it! A little flustered he comes up with an excuse fast. "Oh, uh, um that is the old price I am sorry, we just changed the prices I must have forgotten." Uh huh. Right. Two seconds ago I thought the only thing you knew how to say in German was "one Euro". I gave him another nanny look, this one being the 'Lie to me again and we will have issues'. I gave him two euro and walked off. Yeah I probably should have told him to give me both of them for one euro for him being a butt face, but I didn't want to deal with it. At least I didn't pay what he asked. Honestly people!

After that I headed back to Annette's place and we headed out to the train station. I honestly had such a blast with her! Talking over breakfast about what it was like growing up on the East side of Berlin, and a lot of the history in Berlin. We also had some fun chats about music and how much she liked American music because she didn't understand the words. She always made sure I was fed and even spoiled me with strawberries with Italian whipped topping. YUM! She was great and I loved it! My train was just about to come and I wanted to get some food, and then I realized that all I had was my cards, no cash. Crap. Oh well. I can survive, no worries Annette I am fine. She wouldn't stand for that. My train was just about to pull into the station, and she races off and buys me a delish little sandwich and gets there right as my train pulls in. It was so sweet and I feel so blessed to have met her and become her friend!

That is about where my adventure ends. I rode the train home, got stuck waiting 45 minutes for the train in Frankfurt to take me home. I watched How I Met Your Mother, which made me look totally insane. I can't help but laugh a lot at that show, and since my headphones were on listening to it everyone else around me had no idea why I was laugh. Oh well. Laughed a lot anyways :) Let them laugh at the crazy American. Seems to be the theme of my life!

The nerd in me comes out even more...

Now I realize you don't know this, but all of the stories here are very jumbled. My mind has been jumping all over this trip, so there are a lot of things that happened the first day that will get told here, and a lot of things that happened Saturday that I made it look like happened on Friday. Best part about this? I am the only one who knows what happened when! MWAHAHAHA!!! Back to Berlin.... Saturday was a really fun day. I had seen just about everything I had planned on seeing. It is amazing how much faster the scooter is apposed to walking :)

The first place I wanted to see was the Jewish Museum. I was sort of expecting something like the Holocaust Museum in D.C. (which is amazing by the way). Instead what I got was a history of the Jewish people with a tiny bit dedicated to the ones killed in the Holocaust. I was really kinda disappointed by this actually. I think I would have found it interesting if I didn't go in with the expectations I had. About the only exciting thing that happened here is that they found the knife in my bag... ooops... forgot about it. They took it and I picked it up when I was done. Wooo.... excitement.

At this point I was a little annoyed, I was so looking forward to this! Oh well. I decided to go and find some lunch, but apparently nothing really opens until 4. Really?? Do people in Berlin not eat lunch? Finally I found a little bakery that had food. I decided I was going to try and use my German and not try to rely so much on my English. I was doing decent until I got flustered and the girl didn't want to deal with it. She wasn't rude, but you could tell that she didn't want to be the one that this little American girl used her awful German on. So it became more of a point and say thank you conversation. Suck. I then went to this lovely bench and ate my food

Now I know to most of you this just seems like just another bench. And well... I guess it is. There is a little more to it for me though. Before I came to Germany my Grandpa Ludwig sent me a copy of his first cousins life story. His name was Herbert Kurt Ludwig, and while I don't think I ever met him, because of reading his story I felt extremely close to him. The first girl he kissed ended up being the last one he kissed as well. He kissed her and then later proposed to her on a bench in a park in Berlin. In the book there is a picture of the bench, but try as I might, I couldn't find the actual original bench. It is a very bad picture and it was also taken over 50 years ago. Luckily for me, I have an amazing imagination. This bench fit all the criteria he talked about. It is in Berlin, just down the way from a train station, and it kinda looks like the same place. I know I might sound crazy, but I really enjoyed pretending that this was their bench.

This is the Rotes Rathaus, which I am almost confident was where Herbert was married. The church didn't have the authority to marry them in Germany at this point, and so they were married in the town hall and then had a ceremony in the LDS chapel. The picture of their wedding day is really hard to make out, but I am pretty sure this is the place. The other place that was an option as well I check out too. It is most definitely not the place. So I choose to think this is where they were married :)
This picture right here makes me laugh. I was kind of at the point of... what do I do now? So I decided to take some fun pictures. I set up the shot, set the time, ran to the other side and hopped up, then realized I was being watch and started to laugh. They did too and said something in German and carried on their merry little way. Just another crazy American in Berlin.

The next set of pictures has a common theme that is really easy to pick out :) Before I left Natalie and I were laughing and saying how I should take an army man with me and take pictures with him all the places I go. Well we never found one before I left but a few days before heading to Berlin, I got a package from Nat. With this army man in it. So here are his adventures in Berlin (I feel like he needs a name. Suggestions are welcome).

While in Berlin I went to the Memorial for the killed Jews. I don't understand the significance of the layout or the style... It was interesting but I didn't understand so it didn't really do much for me. Underneath this is a different story. There is a museum underneath filled with a lot of quotes and excerpts from letters. It is amazing to see how much fear can be held in a letter still over...60+ years after it being written? The end is what got to me the most. There is a room that is dimly lit, and on the wall a name comes up. Then you hear the story about this person. 2 year old, killed by the Nazi's at Auschwitz. 47 year old, specifics pertaining to his death unknown. It just keeps going and going. Some survive, most die. Some survive the concentration camps, only to die a few days after liberation. It was really hard to stay in there for too long. So much sadness.

There were a lot of little things in the city that remind people about what happened, in hopes I guess of it never happening again. The first quote I read in the Memorial to the killed Jews was "It happened, therefore it can happen again. This is the cor of what we have to say" by Primo Levi. In the city there are "stumbling stones", and on these stones there are names of people killed in the Holocaust and how they died. Just simple, to the point, a reminder to never let it happen again.
These are the stumbling stones I found. It is amazing to me how many people have no idea that they are even there. Few people noticed it. Just kept walking. Not knowing what they were passing. It was odd to see. I was annoyed with people and just wanted to shout at them to look. But I have a feeling that would not go over. People already thought I was insane walking around with my board :)

One thing that really made me laugh in Berlin, was how many guys would try and hit on me, which threw me off, and then I would reply that I don't speak German, which would then throw them off. Needless to say it was just a lot of awkward hitting on. It made me laugh every time, but I am starting to wonder if I should get me a shirt that says "Don't hit on me in German. It is useless" just because then I could laugh at the random pick up lines people use. Those are still my favorites in case you were wondering. They make me laugh and boy do I have some fun stories because of them!

One of the highlights of my day was when I got on the train. All of the sudden a band started playing! Just a kind of fun jazzy kind of band. I really just wanted to start doing swing dance right there in the middle of the S train. Being partnerless I decided against it. I just enjoyed it. They played between one stop and the next, and as soon as we stopped, so did they. I saw random people throughout the day getting on and off of the trains, a group of them with instruments. They seriously made me happy! I am pretty confident that they were just there to make people happy. There wasn't much time to collect change, so in my thought process, they did it to bring a smile to people's faces, which they succeeded with.

After a long day of site seeing and shopping, I decided to drop everything off and just board around. It was a great time! Other than the times I would hit the cobblestone wrong and would all of the sudden be forced with figuring out how to deal with the sudden lack of board under my feet. Have I mentioned how much I hate cobblestone?? Cause I do. They are awful and should all be dug up and replaced (yes they are pretty, but not fun in the least bit to skate on).

During my skate, I skated along the East Side Gallery, which is the longest piece of wall that is still standing. I was here the day before on the scooter and took pictures... check out the blog before this one if you have no idea what I am talking about :) It was really fun, I WAS SKATING NEXT TO THE BERLIN WALL!!! The little nerd in me that I usually try and keep repressed had way too much fun with this and can't be contained while I tell this! I was fantastic!!! Ok... I think I got the nerd in check now.