Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Safe Arrival Home

A little turbulent start to our journey home today. Nice gradual startin the morning but on the flight home there was a few rough parts. A little more than I am used to, but held it together. We are currently waiting to board our plane in Vancouver at 6:50 BC time. It is almost like the "dangling carrot" analogy. We are so close to home but cannot get there. We are all looking forward to seeing everyone and telling stories of our journey. See you soon. This will be a final sign off for this adventure. Cheers and thanks for everyone's support in helping these students "experience the human side of history". 

Gute Nacht Berlin

Had an older traveller with us today. Reid turned 18 and as a later photo will attest he had his birthday party at the Berlin Wall. Not everyone can say that. 
We spent the day in Berlin and had a guided bus tour in the morning. He first took us to see the portion of the Berlin Wall that is still standing. On the Western side the art work/graffiti is still present. They are currently being tagged by other today which is unfortunate. Our guide says it is kind of their culture now that has emerged since the wall. We saw lots of evidence of graffiti in general around town. I guess the opinion is 50/50 about it. 

The Eastern side that is being tagged by the current generation. Not our group!!!

This is the place where the Nazis held some famous rallies in Berlin. 

Memorial to the murdered Jews during the Holocaust. 

This memorial had over 2700 concrete blocks in this area that would within the area called the death strip (the area that was near the wall where many that tried to escape died. Each block is different and the numbers are not important. There is no message - just for the visitors to interpret. Each block has been protected with anti-graffiti coating. 

He also took us to the area where Hitlers bunker was in Berlin. It no longer exists as the Russians buried it when the captured Berlin. Then the East Germans blew it up and made a parking lot. That blue van never had so many pictures taken of it - he said that is where Hitlers bunker once was. 

Brandenburg Gate. The famous gate that was located on the Eastern side of the city. It was famous for the images after the wall was being taken down. 

The government of Germany has dedicated itself to educating people about this dark period of their history. They opened up a museum called Topography of Terror that had pictures and evidence of the Nazis reign of terror on Europe. It is located where the Nazi head offices once were.   All were free to the public to educate. It was a great display. On the same property was another original piece of the wall. This was even more realistic and impactful than the East Side Gallery that we saw at the beginning if the day. 

These markers are found near Checkpoint Charlie which mark where the wall once stood in Berlin and continue throughout the city. 

We also visited the Jewush Museum in Berlin. A few displays were very amazing. The Holocaust Tower, The Garden of Exile and Falling Leaves (you walk on metal faces attempting not to make a noise - difficult to do. Simulating possibly a soldiers experience being involved and then wanting to not be a part of it. However you are too far already). Very impactful. 

The day ended with a farewell at the Berlin Wall - East Side Gallery. 

Oh an of course sang happy birthday to Reid. 

Farewell Berlin. Our flight leaves tomorrow and the journey was amazing. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Warsaw to Berlin

Kids were spoiled today with a big sleep in. We did not leave the hotel until 10. Not sure how much extra sleep was achieved but it has been a change to not be running around at high speed and waking up really early. 

Our first stop this morning was the Warsaw Uprising Museum. This was a very well set up and interesting museum. It started with a overhead 3D movie of Warsaw after the war. Very well done to show the devastation of the city. 

We had a couple of hours to explore the museum. It contained a timeline of the occupation and uprising. Many weapons, stories and learning environments. By speaking with our group they seemed to believe that this museum was a great experience. 

            Outside the 3D movie

Afterward we had a little time to explore for lunch. Our group was really looking forward to a baked perogie lunch but the place recommended by Ele moved. Instead we found one on our own. It ended up being a great choice - great environment, multitude of perogy choices and a full belly at the end. In the end I discovered that our group can put away a lot of perogies - well done!!!!

We observed an odd person acting oddly with passer-bys and found out they were similar to Just For Laughs (ForFunTV). The group wanted to meet them.  They were told they will be on Polish TV. 

                Our new friend Ele

Next we had an afternoon ticket on a train from Warsaw to Berlin. 

The train ride was much better than the bus ride. However we arrived at about 11 PM Berlin time so the rush to charge phones and get some shut eye is was a race. Our hotel is on the Eastern side of the Berlin wall and is right actions the street from our hotel. The kids can't wait to see it - right Deena???

Tomorrow the jam packed tour of Berlin. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Good morning Warsaw. Today we are going to spend the morning exploring the Warsaw. After WWII the city of Warsaw was levelled. Our guide said the city was 90% destroyed and the ghetto they placed the Jews in was 100% destroyed. So essentially the entire city had to be totally rebuilt!  

Our muggy morning started with a bus ride to the Warsaw Memorial Museum. But first we stopped where they have a marker where the walls to the ghetto once stood. Some buildings that partially stood after the war still remain with bullet holes and evidence of bombing. At the start we watched a film showing the evolution of the ghetto. Some of the images were disturbing, but the truth was what needs to be shared. Afterward we looked at pictures and propaganda images during that time. 

Marker where the walls to the ghetto once stood

Building with evidence of the war in Warsaw. 

Our city guide met us after we had a chance to get some lunch to take to a park. Our first stop was the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial. It was built shortly after the war ended and the city grew around it. 



Next stop was another memorial represented by a replica of a gas chamber with the names of the first victims sent to Treblinka. 

The break in the wall was purposeful to show the life of the tree.

A building that is being renovated that was left standing after WWII.

In the background a building built by order of Stalin in the middle of Warsaw in traditional Soviet style. The Poles hate it and wanted to tear it down but cannot afford it. 

A very popular park - 
 Royal Baths Park aka Łazienki Park. This is where we had lunch. 

            Mark trying to parkour

Afterward we went to the Old City part of Warsaw to walk the Royal Road and look at some shops for free time. 

The Child soldier statue - to remember the children who fought in the ghetto uprising in Warsaw and died. 

Line up for Lody (ice cream) which was very good. 

Back to the hotel for supper. We are heading our for Berlin next day. Will be a long train journey and the kids (and myself) might not have access to Wifi as easily as we have. Therefore there might not be too many calls home for a little while. 

Filling time til supper in the mall near our hotel. 

The sleeping chronicles continue.....

I can't let our adult travellers off the hook. I am also sure there are some photos of me as well - right Nicole??