Sunday, November 30, 2014

FAVORITES - Potsdam, Germany

Some of my favorite (and random) photos taken while we spent the afternoon in Potsdam... (I love the colors!)

On the main street:

Potsdam is cute!

On our walk from the center of Potsdam to the Cecilienhoff Palace:

Potsdam, Germany

We spent most of one day in Potsdam.

We began the morning at a lovely villa in Wannsee - The Wannsee House Memorial Site... where a horrific meeting took place.

The Wannsee Conference included a group of Nazi officials, meeting to determine how to best go about their "final solution" of deporting and killing millions of people. The villa is beautiful... today it is a great museum... but the aura in the conference room is crazy. We had a great tour guide here and the students took a lot in. What a powerful learning experience... to take a week from school... fly to another country... and learn about a piece of history by visiting the actual places. Incredible.

Walking up to the villa:

The villa is on a lake... it's really pretty (and coincides drastically with what took place here in 1942).

We then had time to enjoy and explore the city of Potsdam. It is a very cute city (I think of it more as a town, at least from what I saw of the center)... very walk-able. We enjoyed lunch, a coffee, and walking around...

The Potsdam Conference took place inside Cecilienhof Palace ...leaders from the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States (...Stalin, Churchill, and Truman) met here and made major decisions about WWII (such as how to punish the Nazi Germany). The students are walking to the palace in the photo below... the palace has a park of grounds surrounding it - these grounds were the king's hunting grounds.

It was pretty incredible to go inside the Cecilienhof Palace and stand in the room where these leaders sat and discussed.

After our tour inside the Cecilienhof Palace, one of the other teachers asked me if I had taken any photos... [Yes]... of the students... Uhhhh... I took photos of books on bookshelves! Haha

Saturday, November 29, 2014

mixing in the fun... Berlin

Since much of our week's excursions and tours in Berlin were quite heavy to take in... our schedule included some fun breaks too! It was a really nice mix...

Bowling our first night!

Dinner and shopping time in a huge mall before a movie...

Movie theater! We saw the movie, The Most Wanted Man with Philip Seymour Hoffman...

We were in Berlin during Oktoberfest! Awesome.
We had lunch one day where a fair was going on... 
Here is Robert winning a cool hat at the fair:

Berlin was also really pretty by night... below are two photos of beautiful towers in the center of the city:

Berlin's TV Tower:

Sachsenhausen concentration camp - Berlin

We went to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp... this was one of the excursions that we did during the week that seemed to 'hit' the students (and myself) the most. This was my first time to a concentration camp. Wow. Sachsenhausen was Germany's first concentration camp and is now a museum; a person could easily spend a few hours here...

The main gate has a message, Arbeit Macht Frei - which translates to, work makes you free.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Berlin - Fat Tire Bike Tour

The morning of our first full day in Berlin we took a bike tour of the city - to some of the main historic / touristy spots. It was GREAT. The weather was cold and called for rain but we were lucky and the rain held off.

The company that we went through (and did another tour with again later in the week for a bike tour centered more around the art side of Berlin) was Fat Tire Bike Tours... I would recommend! The guides were great.

Neptunbrunnen - Neptune Fountain

Our guide:

The Berlin Wall:

(also known as the Holocaust Memorial):

We ended the tour in Pariser Platz - a square in the center of the city with the Bradenburg Gate and a number of countries' embassies:

BERLIN, GERMANY - let's begin...

I returned from the conference in Belgium on a Sunday evening... and departed eeeearly Monday morning for a week in Berlin, Germany with our 11th graders! Whoa. Glad I packed for both trips ahead of time. The week in Berlin was awesome... and exhausting.

We arrived to the hotel in the early afternoon, grabbed lunch, and then went to an Unterwelten tour (which literally translates to under worlds) - an underground bunker that was used during WWII and the Cold War.

The entrance to the underground bunker was actually through a metro stop. The young guy in the red sweater and yellow vest, in the picture above, was our tour guide.

It was really interesting... and creepy. A weird feeling that I can't fully describe but was something like cold, dark, and creepy stayed with me all week in this city. Berlin is amazing... and the way in which the city has embraced its history... and now advertises its history in a way, is incredible. I'm really glad I was able to experience this week.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

FAVORITES from Bruges, Belgium

Below are some of my favorite photos from our day in Bruges, Belgium!

A city map made of lace...

A bicyclist riding through Markt:

Some of the buildings surrounding Markt:

This guy.    : P

A family in a park... swans... and sunshine   : )

Pirate sign!

Lace-making in Bruges, Belgium

Mom read about a lace-making school and museum in Bruges and she wanted to find it. Dad wasn't so sure about this but followed along... and seeing the lace-making demonstration room ended up being a favorite part of our day!! This is definitely worth a trip to see if you're in Bruges.

We skipped the museum part and went straight up to the demonstration room. Basically, a group of women gather in the room to hang out, chat, and create intricate patterns of lace. Very, very cool. 

This lady was our favorite:

The lady in the video below was our favorite (SO fast!!)...

canals of Bruges

Bruges has many canals that weave throughout the city. It's very pretty and many tour boats glide through the canals with tourists inside.

A statue as a dead end of one of the canals:

A tour boat is passing by...

I love the detailed shapes of the homes... and the turquoise doors!!

Markt - Market Square, Bruges

The main square in Bruges is absolutely stunning. I read on the Wikipedia article (here) that it was rennovated in 1995. There used to be parking in the square but now it is mostly traffic free (...although I do recall almost being plowed down by a huge tour bus!).

Markt (or Market Square)... shown below in some pictures:

Mom and Dad checking out the beautiful square:

The Provincial Court: