Finally here…dead tired at first

Okay, I am back on line…It is now Friday at 8:22 pm. It is very hard to get use to the time change here, at 9 pm it is still totally light out as if the afternoon was still here. I recall that from last time I was here. Well anyway, the air plane ride was so so. I say that because maybe I am spoiled but all my past overseas flights were on large super jumbo jets, the kinds with 10 seats per row…3, 4 3 and two levels. This was an old plane, one level, six seats across, 3 and 3. The plane had no room for walking and stretching like those planes. Believe me that makes a difference when you fly for 8 hours straight. The night before I upgraded to what was suppose to be a better seat further up in the cabin. I got a seat in what they call the bulkhead where there is no seats in front of me, just a wall which is several feet up so leg room is great. BUT, what I did not know was that since they were in the bulkhead the seats are narrower. Now I am no slim Jim by any means. I even freely admit to being short, fat and ugly, BUT not obese. The seat was so narrow I had to squeeze into the seat and was crushed by the two solid walls for arm dividers that were there and not movable like some which you can lift up to make them disappear. So for $155 extra I got to stretch the long way but had to hold my breath to fit in the width of the seat…LOL. So now that gets me in a cruddy mood. I tried to sleep but it was awful as I could not move or even squirm in my seat. I also could not sleep because the young stewardess who seemed like this was her first overseas flight was so gorgeous I could not stop admiring her from afar. I am not a dirty old man for saying that. I appreciate a work of beauty when I see one and so I am just mentioning it. Anway, we finally get to Berlin and I get a taxi to my hotel. Staying in Mitte which is a very hip area of Berlin. The hotel is a work of art, luxurious and ultra modern. I get into my room at 10 am, as they have some rooms ready early. I collapse on the bed and was so tired I cannot even remember a time when I was that tired. I sleep til 6 pm. Then I get up, half asleep, unpack and go right back to sleep. I finally awake by 7 am today and am ready to start my explorations of Berlin. After a wonderful breakfast here in the hotel I get my walking shoes on and I am off. First stop is the Neu Synagogue on Oranienberg Strasse. It was the major synagogue for the Jewish community here in Berlin. It was founded in the 1800s and has a long history. It has gone through many periods of destruction and being rebuilt and destroyed again. War does that to cities, or at least to cities that were bombed as many were in WW II. It was set afire on November 9 and 10 of 1938 during Kristallnacht which was the countrywide pogrom (riot) that was a major turning point in the Holocaust and the beginning of the end of German and European Jewry. In the late 1800’s many Jews came here to escape the pogroms of the Russian Czars. Now the antisemitism was rearing its ugly head again, but as history shows us in ways never before seen or imagined. The synagogue has never been fully rebuilt. It is interesting to note that on the Night of the Broken Glass (Kristallnacht) the fire fighters did help to stop the fire that had been set inside the synagogue, thus saving it from total destruction. I mention that because that was rare and in fact the orders from the Nazi high command was that they were only to interfere if a fire spread to an Aryan (non Jewish) building. These men disobeyed orders anyway. The holy Torah scrolls were partially destroyed that night. The magnificent dome on the synagogue still stands today but is an empty shell inside. The museum is limited in its size and pictures are not allowed in certain parts. I purchased some post cards of things I could not photograph inside.
After spending a couple of hours there I headed out towards the Spree River where I found a boat ride that took me for an hour tour of the museum area known as Museum Island. It is said that Berlin has more museums than any other city in the world. That may be the reason why I understand many of them are empty, just how many does a city need? I once heard the count was 80 but that is not an official number, just something a guide told me on a prior trip here. I then walked to the train station where I purchased the Euro Rail ticket I need to take the train to Lodz, Poland on August 1. It is a good thing I stopped after buying them and took them out and re-examined them. The lady gave me them for the wrong date! After much confusion a nice gentleman online saw what happened and since he spoke English and German he offered to stay until the ticket was corrected. He explained it to the ticket lady and we chatted and I thanked him with a nice German Danka for Thanks! My next stop was a slice of pizza for lunch and then a frappe from the Golden Arches…McDonald’s. Well it is 9 pm and I have to go get some dinner so bye for now.
Rich

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Valencia's Holocaust Study Abroad 2015

Group Leader: Professor Richard A. Gair, Professor of Holocaust Studies at Valencia Community College, Orlando, Florida USA I am leading ten students on this experience. Eight from Valencia College and two from USF in Tampa. We will visit Berlin, Warsaw, and Krakow.

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One thought on “Finally here…dead tired at first”

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