There and back again: Spring Break part 3

The trip is over. What was a dream of a spring break has come to an end. I’m back in Swansea and back in class. I spent last Tuesday through Friday checking out Zurich, Switzerland and Berlin, Germany before flying back the U.K. Saturday morning.

I spent near one full day in Zurich hiking the foothills of the Swiss alps. I took a couple hours to climb a hill just outside of Zurich and take some paths leading to different areas of the foothills. Hiking to the top of the main hill took me awhile, due to the fact that I got my trails mixed up, and ended up switching from the nice paved path to a foot path carved by previous advanced hikers. So after a couple of hours of struggling up steep parts of the hill, and realizing how truly out of shape I am, I finally reached the top. There is a station at the top of the hill named Üetilberg. There is a watch tower that gives you a wonderful view of Zurich and the other foothills.

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View of Zurich from Üetilberg
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Foothills leading towards the Swiss Alps
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Views while hiking
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Views while hiking

Due to fog, I wasn’t really able to get a good picture of the Alps while hiking. However, it was about 60 degrees outside with no breeze, which made for perfect hiking weather.

I hiked for about 6 or 7 hours, and walked a total of about 14 miles that day. I got some dinner that night, and by the time I got back to my hotel room, I absolutely crashed.

My last day in Zurich was spent checking out the FIFA International Football Museum (The governing body of international soccer), and checking out a few of the historic churches and doing some shopping.

The FIFA museum was super interesting, as it has only been open for two months. It was the most technologically advanced and interactive museum I have ever been to. There were loads of wall sized videos and interactive surround sound chairs. Along with all of this, there was memorabilia from every world cup, both male and female. The major displays included the world cup trophies, the original rules of soccer, and a display case housing a jersey from each FIFA affiliated country.

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Carli Lloyd Jersey and 2015 world cup championship captain’s armband
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Men’s FIFA World Cup Trophy
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Women’s FIFA World Cup Trophy
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Grossmünster church
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Neighborhood in Zurich

My overnight train left for Berlin from Zurich at seven that night, and by the time we got out on the road and going, I had no trouble sleeping through the night. Anytime you take a bus over borders, border patrol will board the bus and check everyones passport. For some reason, border patrol didn’t board our bus until we were a few hours in to Germany, at 3 in the morning. Like most passengers, I was sleeping at that time, but I did not wake up when we stopped and the lights came on. So I woke up, dazed and confused to a police officer speaking a foreign language asking me questions. After the first few seconds of shock, I was able to figure out what he was asking for. I avoided being sent home, and was allowed to actually stay in Germany.

We arrived in Berlin at about eight in the morning, and quickly got some breakfast. The street food in Germany was incredible. Anything you could get in a restaurant, you could find at a food stand and it was all delicious. Most of my meals while in berlin came from these food stands. Whether it was currywurst, bratwurst, pretzels, stir fry, or hamburgers, it was all absolutely wonderful.

I spent my first day in Berlin checking out a lot of the more historical parts of the town. I saw the Reichstag building, which is a building with lots of German history, and now the meeting point of the German parliament. I also saw landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate, the memorial for murdered Jewish people of Europe, along with the museum that is under the memorial.

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The Reichstag Building
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The Brandenburg Gate
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The Memorial for the murdered Jewish people of Europe
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The Memorial for the murdered Jewish people of Europe

I spent the second day in Berlin really checking out the area near the East Wall Gallery. This area was filled with lots of cool shops and cafés, as long as remnants of the Berlin Wall. It was a crazy experience to see the Berlin Wall. Even though it was before my time, the impact that it had on Western Europe and the legacy it has left on the world is incredible.

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Remains of the Berlin Wall
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Remains of the Berlin Wall
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Remains of the Berlin Wall
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Remains of the Berlin Wall

Another cool part of Berlin was seeing all the legacy of the World Wars of the 20th century. Buildings still had plenty of bullet holes, and some buildings still standing showed the rough remains that bombings had on the architecture. Berlin was surprisingly new feeling and more urban than I had imagined, due to all the new things built and replaced within the last 60 years. Overall, it was a very interesting and vibrant city to experience, and not what I had thought it would really be like at. The amount of interesting characters, shops, and new things you see each day could keep you in Berlin forever.

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Gedächtniskirche post World War II (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church)
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Gedächtniskirche before the destruction of the War (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church)
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Bullet holes left over from the wars

The next day, I took the 7 am flight back to London, and the bus from London to Swansea. I spent the rest of the weekend relaxing and getting prepared to start the second half of the semester.

Over spring break I visited 6 countries: The U.K., Ireland, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy. All in all it was a life changing experience and I can’t think all the people in my life for supporting me throughout this whole process! Special shout out to my girlfriend Sabrina, who turns 21 today! Happy Birthday, we will have a celebration when I get back!! Thank you all!

We’ll see what this next week holds in store, and hopefully I have some more stories to share with you all next week! Cheers!!

-Ben

 

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