I hopped out of bed, woke my roommates and took a shower, ready to greet the day in a fresh new city. As I and the other exchange students breakfasted in the youth hostel, chattering about the day's plans, we took the trouble to look out the window.
It was raining.
But exchange students are an indomitable breed, refusing to be cowed even by cold, wet weather at the end of May. Unleashed for an entire day of free time on the city of Berlin, we first made stops to the souvenir shops before heading to some of Berlin's most beautiful attractions.
We walked and walked, up and down streets and bridges, stopping to nourish ourselves with pizza and chocolate from the Ritter Sport store, where I created my own custom chocolate.
Chilled to the bone but very warm with excitement, we slept very well before waking up the next morning to see an old friend: the sun.
The day began with a tour of an old bunker in Berlin, where hundreds of people hid for several hours at a time during WWII. The walls glowed with phosphorescent paint; after only an hour underground with subway cars rushing overhead, I was glad to be back outside.
After so much history, our group was in need of some nourishment. Dropped off in a little square in the city, we immediately went in search of nourishment: pommes (French fries), cookies and Currywurst (sausage with curry sauce).
The day wasn't over yet: we were issued bicycles and handed over to a tour guide, who led us around the city. Once more we visited the Brandenburg Gate and the house of Angela Merkel (Chancellor of Germany), the remnants of the Berlin Wall, and Checkpoint Charlie.
Several of us made a stop at the Holocaust memorial on our way home.
In true Eurotour form, we headed out early the next morning, frantically boarding the bus with our luggage and then sleeping until we arrived at our next destination: Hamburg.
We spent the afternoon on a bus tour, examining the ornate houses and gorgeous gardens, lovely churches and streets. Hamburg, Germany's musical capital, is on a harbor, which meant a boat trip early the next morning, followed by fish for lunch, the necessary souvenir shopping, and an afternoon reveling in the sunshine. Getting a bit lost in a city is one of the best things that can happen to a person; asking locals for directions, seeing back alleys and getting mistaken for a German, and afternoon ice cream made Hamburg one of my favorite places on the tour.
It's not over yet; stay tuned for the North Sea, Amsterdam and Paris!