Monday we visited the offices of the German Academic Exchange Service. Our presentation turned into a “How to keep getting money from the German Government to do our research here” speech. I learned more about the research institution organization in Germany, and it was nice to see the office that has so frequently given me and denied me funds for my project over the years!
Afterwards we took a bus to a brown coal mining operation. The Rhine Valley has a few sites with lots of brown coal, and there are three above ground mines currently active near Bonn. I always am amazed and freaked out when I visit industrial sites. This mine is quite the sight to see; basically this company is removing many layers of earth, taking what they want, and then replacing the remaining layers as they were taken up. We saw several massive excavators, including the largest land vehicle in the world, the Krupp Bagger 288. This monster had been operating in a different mine nearby, and it cost over 10 million euros to move it to its current home/hole. Seeing monster machines created a monster hunger among several of us, so we sought out some tasty burgers in Bonn. I was impressed; normally the only “American” burger you can get in Germany is from McDonald’s or Burger King, and all of them are small, with too much bread and not enough meaty and topping goodness. This place delivered, even if avocado wasn’t a topping option. I then had to walk my largest suitcase to my new place for safe keeping while I’m in Berlin.
|Fuzzy picture of coal operations|
|That is one BIG machine, the Bagger 288!|
|Original section of Berlin Wall with East German watchtower. Freedom never looked so good!|
Friday we had free again to take care of bureaucratic matters. I don’t have to search for an apartment or complete any visa applications while here, so I am one of the few who was not otherwise engaged in setting up things for their year in Germany. The group met in the afternoon for an excursion to Oranienburg, a small town near Berlin, to visit the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. I don’t know if I should consider myself to be quite fortunate to have now visited three concentration camps. Each camp is different, and I have yet to visit an extermination camp, like Auschwitz. The experience was spooky and eye-opening all at once. The former camp was literally on the edge of the town, with civilians living right along the prison walls. Our tour guide was very honest and tried to give us a good idea of what it was like to live in the camp, as well as to highlight some of the less commonly known facts about the camp. That evening I ate with friends at the restaurant B and I went to for his birthday in 2006.
I was very lazy on Saturday, but I still managed to get out and walk around, picking up an HDMI cable for my computer, and going to get Döner with Emmeline. We explored Alexanderplatz and the Museum Island a bit. We caught the end of an outdoor church service and a protest parade! Instead of “Occupy” banners, the protesters were carrying “Rockupy” signs! They were accompanied by a DJ in a van.
|Me standing in/on Berlin!|
|Emmeline is trapped in the Humboldt Box!|
|Pointing at something...|
|Emmeline with her training chopsticks|
|Berlin is celebrating its 775th anniversary!|
The third week has already begun and ended; I hope to keep up with posts a bit better once I get to Bonn!