17 June 2017

Europe Trip Day Two: Berlin

Today is a testament to the amount of crazy you can fit into one day.  It started with the realization at the Stanstead Airport that although we had checked into our Ryanair flight already, the app doesn’t pull up your boarding passes for you (like every other airline app. . . ) For that we’d need the internet.  So we connected to wifi and found that the link didn’t work to pull up boarding passes.  So we got in the line for people who didn’t have boarding passes printed.  Then a man called everyone going to Berlin to queue in another line that was supposed to be faster since our flight was leaving within the next hour and a half.  The line wasn’t faster, and because we didn’t have our boarding passes, we had to queue in yet another line for customer service to get our passes printed at 15 GBP a person. (Special shout out to the friendly gent who let us connect to his mobile hotspot to attempt to pull up the passes.  Surprise surprise, the link still didn’t work on the Ryanair website.)

Fearing that we’d miss our flight, we found the man who’d called us over to the “shorter” queue to explain our plight.  He pulled us to the front of the queue, examined the phone, then asked the customer service desk to print our passes free of charge (YES.) and sent us off to security.  I don’t believe in three Nephite conspiracy stories, but I do believe in two Nephite conspiracies and if you were wondering, one of them is a 20 something metrosexual and the other an older bald man.

The fun continued with both of our bags being pulled to be searched (because iPads count as laptops now?) and then us having to haul ourselves through what felt like two miles of stores before we arrived at anything remotely resembling an airport.  We had to swim through clouds of Chanel No. 5 and piles of Toblerone just in time to make it to our gate (after a brief pit stop to the WC where dad realized that he’d put his trousers on over his basketball shorts that morning. Oops.)

The rest of the day has gone off more or less without a hitch.  Dad and I arrived about an hour before Jared, so we explored our street for a bit before meeting up with him.  After that we ran for a quick lunch and off to explore the town.  

Berlin as a city is so fascinating.  Few cities I’ve been to have quite such a dynamic history as Berlin, given that something like 80% of the city was destroyed in the war and had to be rebuilt (half of which under the influence of crippling communism).  As a city, Berlin is a study of great contrasts.  The city seems to examine itself from a slight distance, attempting as best it can to be objective and critical. 

One of the best examples of this openness to me is in the Jewish History Museum.  I came for a brief visit the last time I was here in 2013 and was so impressed that I suggested a second visit.  It doesn’t disappoint.  The museum itself doesn’t focus on a narrow Jewish experience but focuses on the history of Jews in Germany and religious cultural expression as a whole.  The museum itself is designed to tell a story, beginning with several arms of experience.  One for the Holocaust, one for exile, and a larger one for continuity that showcases the history of Judaism. 

As a Mormon, I feel a real kinship with the Jewish experience.  There are so many things about Jewish culture that I admire and respect and sometimes even envy.  One of my favorite exhibits this time around was a room discussing the reasons for and controversy behind religious clothing for women.  I have conflicted feelings about this within my own church - discussions on modesty are almost universally directed toward women, no matter what religion you are.  The restrictions of leadership and priesthood within the church are something I struggle with.  That struggle is something that is not just a Mormon struggle - women of many faiths are trying to find a way to balance their belief with potential patriarchal system struggles.  I related very much to this exhibit.  I too am a woman of faith.  I believe that I have found a religion that works for me, that brings me joy, that gives me fulfillment.  I also believe that we have a long way to go in our understanding of the role women play within the church and I hope to see a better dialogue about those roles in the future.

The rest of our evening involved primarily an enormous amount of walking.  We wandered down the Kudamm in search of dad’s old apartment from when he served here as a missionary.  We ended up walking from there back to our hotel (much longer than anticipated), and my step count for the day was over 20,000 steps, so I felt no guilt whatsoever in eating an ice cream.  I am exhausted.

Jared’s Pun Glossary for 17 June: 

“I Kantstrasse enough how happy I am to be here with you two.  Glossary that shiz.”

Dad: “It was the Hitler show.”  Jared: “Was it a big hit?”

“I fell in Loooouvre with Paris.”

(Re: the Jewish History Museum) “It doesn’t Holocaust that much. (Pause) Too soon?”

(At the Jewish History Museum) “They sell Kosher gummy bears here.  Is that kosher?” Me: “Weak.” Jared: “Well, what did Jew expect?!”

At the picture of the pissour: “We don’t need another picture. That picture was definitely a number one

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