Last weekend I traveled to Berlin for the annual “Karneval der Kulturen”. Buses in Germany are quite nice and the almost 8 hour journey northeast through the country side was a very comfortable ride. I was most impressed by all of the wind farms and little villages full of traditional houses with modern solar panels popping up all over the place as if they were part of the original design.
After some quick research, I learned that Germany has over 21,000 wind turbines with a capacity of 30 GW, producing about 8% of Germany’s electricity. Germany has another 30GW of installed capacity from solar PV. Well done Germany!
My first night in Berlin I visited the mandatory landmarks including the Brandenburger Tor and the Rathaus. I must say that the Brandenburger Tor is a lot smaller in real life, but nevertheless, equally stunning in person.
After some site seeing we made our way to the Karneval. The streets and parks were completely filled with locals and tourists from all over the world selling arts and crafts, yummy authentic food, and performing live music. On Sunday, day two of my stay in Berlin, was the parade! Imagine over 80 floats representing countries and organizations from all over the world making their way through Berlin with dancing fans in front, behind, and to the side of every float all dressed up in colorful costumes. However, with temperatures reaching over 90F or 30C that day, everyone was feeling the heat in the streets packed full of people having the time of their lives.
This past Thursday I went out to lunch my mentor Annika and a doctor from the nearby city of Gießen that works with refugees. I had planned on attending the guest lecture that afternoon finding the doctor’s stories very fascinating. However, on our way back from lunch, a student approached Annika to tell her that the geography students were on their way to tour a nearby brewery for “educational” purposes. So five minutes later, with the blessing of Annika, I was on a train to the town of Lich with the students. The 30 minute tour of the inner workings of the Licher Brewery was followed by a two hour “sampling” in the beer garden where we enjoyed unlimited beer, pretzels, and sausages!
After we returned to Marburg, we made a quick stop to buy some snacks, and then it was finally time to kick off FIFA season in Germany.
On Friday, the geography department organized a hiking trip. After 5 hours of wandering through the magnificent forest on the perfect sunny day, we finally reached our destination: Burg Gleisberg. The view from the top is absolutely breathtaking! After climbing back down to the base of the castle, we enjoyed a traditional Hessen meal of Flammkuchen and Apfelwein.
Frankfurt is the financial capital of Europe, and it is not hard to see why. Frankfurt is one of the few German cities with a skyline. Almost every high-rise building belongs to a well-known bank, insurance company, or large corporation.
Frankfurt also has some popular shopping destinations. The most popular pedestrian shopping sector is “Die Zeil” with huge department stores and shops all around. To see where the more upscale fancy pants people shop, we strolled down Goethestraße, the most expensive shopping street in all of Europe. We also took the time to visit the more historical parts of the city including Römerplatz, St. Paul’s Kirche, and the old opera house.
So far I am really enjoying my stay in Germany. All of the students and faculty at the university are very welcoming and fun to hang out with! I promise that one week I will write about my research and prove I am not just here to have a good time. But I will save that for a more low key week…