Friday, August 28, 2009

Carrie goes to Berlin (a guest blog)

As Sean mentioned in his previous post, he has asked me to do a guest blog about my recent trip to Berlin. Like any dedicated girlfriend would, here I am, telling you dedicated readers about the two weeks I spent in one of my favorite cities. I was in Berlin for the IAAF World Championships for Athletics as part of the Chicago 2016 team, attempting to win votes and hearts. The glamorous work my coworker Lizzie and I did included assembling our booth, hauling boxes, standing in the booth for 13 hours at a time and making hand motions because we don't speak German. Here are some additional highlights and lessons learned from the trip:

1. Traveling in Europe on an expense account is pretty sweet. It sure beats having to pay the exchange rate on your own.

2. The Germans are still dealing with their twisted history and Berlin is full of examples of this ongoing struggle. The Olympic Stadium ("Olympiastadion" for those of us who are fluent), where I spent most of my time, is quite an imposing place. The site of numerous Nazi rallies was also, of course, the site of Jesse Owens' victories in 1936. There are also random memorials all over the city - constant reminders to Berliners.

Small memorial in the Mitte neighborhood

We happened upon this piece of the wall one night

This bombed-out church stands as a reminder - we walked by it daily on our way to the subway

3. My favorite thing about Berlin is the trees. West Berlin is especially rife with tree-lined streets and parks. It is a stark contrast to the West Loop.

Outside my hotel

4. Berlin is a very green city in general. People recycle (25 cents for every returned bottle adds up!), eat local food that is in season and ride bikes everywhere. So I clearly loved it.

a typical bike lane

Tiergarten, Berlin's "Central Park"

Our entry into Tiergarten - beautiful

5. Yoga in another language is a transformative experience. I even learned that "twist" in German means "twist" in English. If you are ever in Berlin, go to this studio (it also happens to be next to a very cute chocolate shop). This will likely be the only time yoga is discussed on this blog, so enjoy it.

Spirt Yoga Berlin

6. Europeans feel differently about nudity than Americans. I couldn't bring myself to take a picture of the man taking an open air shower in the middle of Tiergarten. I did take one of naked men laying out, but I figure this photo is probably all I can get away with on Sean's blog.

5. Usain Bolt is very fast.

7. My favorite part of the competition, and maybe even the trip in general, was the remote-controlled truck sent out to pick up the hammers from the hammer throw. Notice how there is a stuffed bear driving the truck. You know you think it's funny.

He took his job very seriously

A hard worker like this deserves two pictures

8. Watching the events in the stadium was really exciting. The crowd was incredible - they cheered for everyone, regardless of nationality.

The Olympic Stadium has almost 75,000 seats! It was therefore never full

Yelena Isinbayeva missing her third attempt (it was a big deal)

The U.S. women celebrating their 4x400 victory

Men's 4x400m relay - the crowd went nuts (and the U.S. men won)

Men's Marathon

9. The Chicago 2016 booth was cited by many as the best (obvi).

Lizzie on day one - ready for the crowds. We were not ready for the flood of people grabbing everything that was not nailed down

Olympic race walker Gary Morgan shows visitors around our booth

The mascot paid us a visit

So did Edwin Moses and his lovely wife

Overall the trip was wonderful, even though I missed my boyfriend terribly the whole time. Until next time, auf wiedersehen!

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