From Berlin to Prague

It’s after 11 p.m. in Prague on Sunday the 13th and we’re all a bit worn out from the nearly 5-hour train ride from Berlin. Another study abroad group from a university in Washington state was headed to Prague as well, and apparently Deutsche Bahn decided to cram all of the Americans into one hot train car. The weather outside was in the 30s, but the temperature inside Car #257 of the ICE Train was above 80. The other school had 16 students plus faculty, and we were 31, and we all had a LOT of luggage to squeeze into a small space.

Erin Valentine poses in the Berlin Hauptbahnhof with her luggage. Just kidding - she's actually watching over the class's collected bags while other students grab sandwiches and other goodies for the train ride to Prague.

Erin Valentine poses in the Berlin Hauptbahnhof with her luggage. Just kidding – she’s actually watching over the class’s collected bags while students grab sandwiches and other goodies for the train ride to Prague.

Students slept, read, ate, talked, played Monopoly on an iPad, and listened to a Harry Potter Audiobook on the train ride to Prague.

Students slept, read, ate, talked, played Monopoly on an iPad, and listened to a Harry Potter Audiobook on the train ride to Prague.

Our Prague hotel is incredibly close to the center city and main town square. You can tell we’re in a tourist area, though. There’s a Hard Rock Cafe next door, and all of the kitschy little trinket shops make the area resemble Gatlinburg, TN. When you exit the winding alley of shops, restaurants, and markets pushing absinthe, the majestic Charles Bridge appears directly in front of you. This 14th century landmark was mercifully spared the ravages of WWII as well as many other conflicts over the centuries. Photos of the bridge will appear on students’s blogs and in this space after our walking tour Monday.

AND A FEW MORE FROM BERLIN…

Here are a handful of photos from our visit to the German Technological Museum.

Only the professors were old enough to remember the daring 1987 flight of 18-year-old German aviator Mathias Rust, who landed a Cessna 172 airplane near Red Square in Moscow. The breach of Soviet airspace led Mikhail Gorbachev to fire numerous generals and other Soviet officials who opposed his reforms. Many believe Rust's flight helped end the Cold War. His plane now hangs from the museum ceiling.

Only the professors were old enough to remember the daring 1987 flight of 18-year-old German aviator Mathias Rust, who landed a Cessna 172 airplane near Red Square in Moscow. The breach of Soviet airspace led Mikhail Gorbachev to fire numerous generals and other Soviet officials who opposed his reforms. Many believe Rust’s flight helped end the Cold War. His plane now hangs from the museum ceiling.

Students stand in a wind tunnel in the children's area of the museum.

Students stand in a wind tunnel in the children’s area of the museum.

Matt Dowdle is the King of the World on this 1901 ship.

Matt Dowdle is the King of the World on this 1901 ship.

Prof. Hatcher hides as this group photo is taken in front of a 19th century printing press that he got in trouble for touching last January. It was the perfect hands-on prop for teaching the class early printing technology, but the museum staff didn't see it that way.

Prof. Hatcher hides as this group photo is taken in front of a 19th century printing press that he got in trouble for touching last January. It was the perfect prop for teaching the class early printing technology, but the museum staff didn’t see it that way.

A gentle snow falls on this bridge just outside the doors of the museum.

A gentle snow falls on this bridge just outside the doors of the museum.

This photo taken in Potsdamerplatz - previously a wasteland that has been transformed into a thriving business district - is a metaphor for the former East/West divide before German reunification in 1990. Sections of the former Berlin Wall stand in the foreground with signs of Western prosperity beckoning just beyond.

This photo taken in Potsdamerplatz – previously a wasteland that has been transformed into a thriving business district – is a metaphor for the former East/West divide before German reunification in 1990. Sections of the former Berlin Wall stand in the foreground with signs of Western prosperity beckoning just beyond.

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