Berlin, from the ground up

Okay time to update all. It is now Sunday at 7 pm. Adventurous day today. Up at crack of dawn, fresh from my jet lag recovery which took two full days of sleeping…really. Walked to local bagel cafe and had a nice bagel, lox and cream cheese and latte, what could be bad? Next back to hotel and rent my bike. Maps in hand, small back pack on back and my fat little body balanced on the bike I take off for the museums. I hate to admit it but I will, it is terribly depressing to realize you have reached a point in your life where physically riding a bike is a challenge. I mean that is a basic thing we learn as little things and so I fail to see the humor in an old man falling from the bike three times in one day. I am okay but I will say Berlin is beautiful even from the ground view. I am not joking here, it is really depressing when you realize something so simple and basic is a physical challenge suddenly. By noon I was pretty much used to it but realized you must stay alert here. Bikers are everywhere and we are expected to follow the flow of traffic just as if we are another vehicle. There are bike lanes. We must stop at lights, etc just like a car must do. At first I forgot and got a couple of German snickers and under the breath names aimed at me ( I think stupid American was what one sounded like…that sounds the same in all languages). Actually by the end of the day I realized that some of the problem was that the handlebar was loose and kept turning downwards and had to be pulled back up. I told the front desk and they told me the day was free and that another bike would be issued at once. While out I biked over to Museum Island as they call it here. There are many many museums in this city, more than an other city in the world I have heard. I spent the day at the German History Museum. It took me several hours as I took some notes with my I Pad and one of the apps that uses a stylus to write in script. Got some pictures where allowed (and a few where not allowed). I was very curious to see how Germany’s museum would present the era between 1933 and 1945, the Holocaust years. I was not sure what I expected but somehow wondered how they would objectively fit it into the narrative of their long history. European countries like Germany have a very long history when we compare them to our own USA. The USA is really a rather new country, founded in 1776 and America being discovered in 1492. These countries’ history goes back many hundreds of years before ours. Our nation as we know is a nation started by immigrants from many of these European nations. When you look at the history of Germany it takes you back to the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the days of knights in shining amour and jousting and such, just like the knights of the Round Table. It is a country that has seen many wars in its times and turmoil politically. The Holocaust has its place in the museum narrative of course. I think it is presented in a frank and honest way, objectively as possible and not told in a way that tries to lessen the part Germany played in it. I was surprised by one thing and I am curious what my readers think. In the section about the Holocaust, amidst the pictures and artifacts that show the horrors of the Nazi death camps they have a bronze bust of Hitler on display,
I will post it at the end of this posting. somehow I felt that was inappropriate. To me a bronze bust of a historic figure should be reserved for one that represents respect for human life and liberties and that it should be used to glorify someone. Hitler does not fit any of those descriptions. Am i being too sensitive? Am I teaching about the Holocaust so long that I have become too narrowly focused in my thinking? Do I need to lighten up? I am not sure and will have to think about that. After the museum it was a bike ride to the Brandenburg Gate along the Unter De Linden (are you impressed with my German name dropping yet?). A nice piece of bratwurst (hot dog) fries and water with gas. Back on the bike and pedaling to the Tiergarten which is the big park in the middle of the city as well as a ride along the banks of the Spree River. On the way back to the hotel a detour at Starbucks for a mango passion frozen whatever (slushee) and then more biking. By this time the sweat is still pouring off the bald head of mine and I hop into the grocery store for a liter bottle of water with gas
Tomorrow looks like another very hot day here, they are having a heat wave. I don’t think I will ever get used to it still being bright as daylight at 9:30 pm! It really throws me off when it comes to dinner and sleeping.

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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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