June 6, 2007
by Erin Birmingham – The last part of the trip was spent in the once-divided city of Berlin. The first thing we did was pick up our friend and German Volleyball tour guide, Mirko, at Berlin’s new train station. It was very large and looked like it could be a mall with all the stores and restaurants that it had inside. With Mirko as a guide we were off to sightsee in Berlin. It was great to have Mirko there because he was able to fill us in on some history as well as the significance of the buildings we were looking at. We saw old government buildings that still had bullet holes from the war covering the outsides! We walked along the line that the Berlin Wall once stood and took pictures near pieces of the wall that had been torn down and relocated.
The next thing we came across was a Holocaust Memorial. It was large stones that resembled tombs lined up, but they were all different heights and they leaned in different directions. Bond’s expertise offered the idea that the tombs could possibly represent the large number of people lost and the difference in tomb height and design showed the individuality of all the victims. Walking through it was like a maze. Underneath was a Holocaust Memorial Museum that a few team members saw the next day and said it was unbelievable. They said they could of spent hours in there studying the information and seeing pictures. It was a very emotional tour for the people who went inside and it took some time to recover from the difficult things they learned about.
After grabbing some lunch we walked near the river to the Main Church. It was Berlin’s dome cathedral and it was absolutely breathtaking. When you looked up inside the ceiling was an enormous gold dome filled with wonderful paintings. It was so beautiful I cried!! We all walked around in awe for awhile then found out that in the bottom of the church all the past kings were buried because that is where they had all come for church. In the basement it was interesting to see the tons of tombs with crowns sitting on top of them.
That evening we had a match against the German youth national team. The team was young, but had some talented girls that Germany expects some great things out of in the future. We played four fun games against them and won them all. After the match we wanted to go out to dinner with them, but they all had a big test the next day. We were able to mingle a little and took a picture with them. For dinner that night we walked to a restaurant called Doner King. At first we were all looking a bit concerned about what we were about to eat because they were slicing off some unknown meat and tossing in into a big piece of pita. After we tasted it though, we all understood why it was Ulli’s favorite fast food in Germany because they were so good!
The next day we were set free in the streets of Berlin. We were challenged to find out as many historical facts about Berlin as we could so we made sure to go by Checkpoint Charlie and some other famous historical points in the city. All the girls were also quick to find a Dunkin Donuts that had the internet for 1 euro! People spent the day going to museums, finishing up souvenir runs, and just enjoying the big city of Berlin. That evening we had our last match against a division 1 professional team. We ended up losing in four, but had some close games where we had to fight back from starting off in a deficit. We hated to end on a loss but we did not let it get us down because all and all we played some great volleyball over the course of the trip and as a team really felt proud of all the hard work and improvement we had made on and off the court. For dinner that night we were so excited to hit up the Doner King again for some awesome fast food. We all decided that Doner King needs to come to America ASAP! We went to sleep that night very excited for our next adventure; a visit to Ulli’s hometown!