VIVA BERLIN: Take a leap with Faith across the pond
Word of the Day: auf wiedersehen - good bye
Happy Friday everyone! Wow I cannot believe this is my last post for VIVA Berlin. It’s been an incredible three weeks and we’ve experienced so much together. Next stop back to Las Vegas! But first let’s rewind so I can give you all a look at my last day of the trip.
Berlin is full of souvenirs, although many of them around the tourist areas are a bit overpriced. To avoid these tourists traps I suggest heading to the open air markets at places like Alexanderplatz or Hackescher Markt to find something unique to bring back. I fell a bit into the tourist trap and had to check out the Ampelmann store.
The “Eastern Ampelmännchen” is an iconic and historic symbol of East Berlin. In October of 1961, a couple of months after the wall went up, Karl Peglau, submitted a suggestion for a new traffic light symbol for the east side, and that’s how the “Ampelmännchen” were born. Two symbols, a red man and a green man, to indicate when pedestrians could walk across the street. After the wall came down, a guy named Markus Heckhausen had an idea to repurpose the Ampelmann traffic lights that were deemed useless after reunification. According to some German residents this symbol is among the most prominent to cross over to reunification. The Ampelmann Restaurant is about a 10 minute walk from the store. Just follow the road along the Spree river for about 10 minutes and you’ll run right into it.
Berliner Fernsehturm (The Berlin TV Tower)
If you look towards the east of Berlin, you’ll see a very tall structure called the Berliner Fernsehturm or TV Tower. It was constructed in the late 60’s during the divided time of Germany by the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Standing at 368m ( 1,207ft) It’s the tallest structure in Germany. The observation deck sits at 203m and the revolving restaurant (Sphere) sits at 207m giving visitors an incredible 360 view of Berlin. I decided to get a little fancy and dine at the restaurant. Pre-purchasing tickets was a huge advantage in skipping the line and going straight to the top of the tower. Once at the top, you are seated at your table, greeted by your server, and left to relax 207 meters above the ground. It’s a great a experience for those who love a good meal and good atmosphere. Although it is a little pricey. This dining experience will run you about $100 per person. If you aren’t looking for dinner but just views you can get a ticket to the top for about $20.
East Side Gallery
My last stop of the night was a work of art; the East Side Gallery. At 1.3km long, its known as the largest open air gallery in the world and it’s located in Friedrichshain. It’s a stretch of the Berlin Wall (the east facing side) that artists took over, not long after the wall came down. By 1990, it was officially recognized as the East Side Gallery. Being that it is an open air gallerythe weather has its effect on the art. In 1990 a big restoration project was done to bring the pieces back to life. According to the website there are 101 paintings along the wall. Many of the images speak to politics and social justice while serving as a memorial. About 3 million people come to see it every year. You might recognize the “fraternal kiss” painted by Dmitri Vrubel.
Something good to know if you travel to Berlin! Keep you cans and water bottles. You can turn them in to the grocery store or corner market to get .25 cents off your bill. Check for the symbol in my tweet below.
And that’s all she wrote folks! Thank you for joining me for this journey. If you make it to any of these spots snap and pic and send it to me on my social media sites like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram . I’ll catch you all back on air starting Monday! Till the next trip. Bis bald!
Word of the Day: Schön - beautiful
It’s Thursday in Berlin, the sun is out and the weekend is almost here! Today I spent most of my time conducting more interviews for a story I’m working on about guns in Germany. Keep an eye out for that on News 3!
But check out the area where I got to work today!
This is an area inside Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Berlin. It’s a huge facility on the outskirts of town in Marienpark that actually used to be an old gas factory. I found myself there hoping on the wifi to get some work done and to fuel my body around lunch time. The brewery that originated in San Diego has a large selection of food and brews. Check out the meal that went down today. Lots of meat, lots of potatoes, and a carbo-load of bread and pretzels. (I will be eating carrots and celery upon my return)
Berlin’s art scene is one of a kind. I’m a big fan of urban art and you can find a lot of it depending on what area you go to . I found some of my favorites in the Friedrichshain area and the Neukölln area. I picked up this piece titled “Vaikuntha” in a coffee shop. The meaning “Be without fear”
Tomorrow is my very last day in Berlin before heading back to the States! I can’t believe this journey is coming to an end and I would love your suggestions for what to do in my last day!
Phrase of the Day: Alles Klar- All clear/ All good
Today is known as the day the defending World Cup Champions saw defeat. Fussball (soccer) is absolutely HUGE in Germany.
As defending champs, Germany had even more pressure as every team looked to take them it. South Korea was the team to do it beating Germany 2-0 sending them back home from Russia.
Prior to the game, I headed towards checkpoint Charlie. Not too far from that historical marker, lies another, the Topography of Terrors. It’s an indoor-outdoor exhibit free and open to the public that stands where high-level officials during the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945 worker. It was the SS Reich Main Security Office, the headquarters of the Sicherheitspolizei (security police) SD, Einsatzgruppen ( deployment groups) and Gestapo (secret Police) The exhibit tells a variety of stories from the Nazi regime’s rise to power, how German Jews suffered in the process, how Germans with the resistance were punished, and give detailed accounts of all who were involved. (It wasn’t just Hitler folks)
The exhibit is in German but also has English translations.
After making a pit stop at the Deutsche Welle TV Station to chat with some German journalists, I set forth to Neukölln to get a locals perspective of Berlin after dark. Although it wasn’t dark when I arrived (during the summer the sun doesn’t set until after 10). The streets of Neukölln are lined with odd shops and cafe’s that turn into popular bar hangouts a night. You won’t find any bottle service or the top 40 hits playing at these spots. Rather its a community filled with those looking to escape from the mainstream scene in Berlin. Each space has its own unique vibe. I stopped by Vater bar.
Phrases of the Day: Danke Schön- Thank you very much. Bitte Schön - You’re welcome
Fröhlichen Dienstag (Happy Tuesday)
Today I started the morning off by heading to the RIAS commission building for an interview. “RIAS” stands for Radio in the American Sector and was a Radio and Television station in the American sector of Berlin during the Cold War. The building is still being used for radio today. The building itself is so historic that it is protected by law and can’t be torn down.
I took a double take when I saw the word “Kasino” on a hallway directory. Turns out, that’s the German word for mess hall, AKA a cafeteria.Tweet:
Next stop, the Spree River for a boat tour. Tour boats run up and down the portion of the river located in Berlin’s Mitte District. The water is lined with history, from old bridges, to parks, to the Reichstag building (Capitol Building). The tours will run you about $14 and they serve a variety of drink selections on board. Although the tour is in German, you can pick up an audio stick on your way in to enjoy the tour in a different language. A HUGE history lesson is about 30 minutes.
Consumed with the history I headed to Berlin’s oldest building in the Mitte district for dinner. Weihenstephaner sits in a building dating back to 1749 and offers a wide selection of traditional German cuisine.
Check it out:
The layout of the place is pretty awesome. Because it’s summer and World Cup time, tables and benches line the outdoor patio area of the restaurant with plenty of TV’s to catch the game. Step inside and you’ll find a dimly lit cellar type decor with a back yard patio. Take the stairs down one floor and you’ll end up in a maze of tucked away tables and areas at every corner in the main part of the cellar. If you are looking for a tradition German meal, you’ll find it here.
Till tomorrow! Bis Spater!
Word of the Day: Freheit - Freedom
Happy Monday and welcome to the third week of Viva Berlin. After over-indulging in chocolate I hopped on a plane from Brussels back to Berlin for the final week of my abroad trip.
This week, I’ll be working on putting together a series that explores the difference between gun ownership in America, and gun ownership in Germany. In between interviews, I’ll be exploring, which brings us to Monday and the word of the day “Freheit”
An art piece outside of the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (the central train station) reads #FreiheitBerlin meaning freedom Berlin. The message : ”Freedom has many faces"
On my way to ZDF today, one of the television stations in Germany (they are airing the World Cup!) I passed by the Holocaust memorial. It’s a beautiful memorial formally titled “The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe”. It’s free and open to the public, signs simply ask for those who are visiting to be respectful of the grounds. It was designed by architect Peter Eisenman and opened in 2005.
Another memorial we visited near by was the “The Memorial to the Sinti and Roma of Europe murdered until national socialism, remembering those killed under Nazi rule.
Visits to these memorials along with my second visit to the Berlin Wall memorial called for a very somber yet educational day. Taking time to remember the grim parts of history sometime helps to appreciate the freedoms we have today.
Until tomorrow! Bis Morgen
Words of the Day: Chocolat (French) Schokolade (German) -ChocolateHad so much of this today, keep reading to find out why!
Happy Friday everyone! Wow what an amazing two weeks it’s been and I can’t believe today is the final day. Five different cities in two incredible countries with a group of extremely talented journalists from around the U.S.
Well let’s get into the final day of activities.
Stop 1: Politico Brussels
You’ve probably heard of Politico, if you haven’t and you are interested in politics you should check it out here.
We sat and spoke with managing editor of Politico Brussels Stephen Brown and like many other political outlets around Europe, Politico is gearing up for next week’s European Union summit. Migration is on the front line of issues to tackle. Brown says the newsroom aims to present the news with a bit of quirkiness. Politico pushes the boundaries and tells the news that might sometime poke fun at the subject of the story. At times, other outlets in Brussels might deem this as rude or inappropriate. But Brown conveyed, if there is news to be told, the reporting style can be unique.
Our final stop of the trip was about an hour northwest of Brussels by train in a beautiful town called Bruges.
It’s a beautiful city full of history and is the largest city in the Flemish Region of Belgium. If you opt to take the train in, you’ll walk through cobble stone roads, lines with chocolate shops and boutiques full of lace before hitting a river flowing through the center of town. Tourists flock to this town for their beautiful architecture, endless supply of chocolate shops, boutiques full of lace products, and history. For 8 euros (just under $10) you can catch a 30 min ferry ride along the river to hear about the history and get a water front view of the sites.
After stuffing our faces with all the chocolate you could imagine (including the hot chocolate..it was AMAZING) we got on the train and headed back to Brussels to say our goodbyes.
The RIAS program has officially ended, but I’ll be heading back to explore Berlin on my own for the next week!
P.S. Did you know The Smurfs were Belgian?
See you Monday!
Word of the Day: Fromage - Cheese (French)
We started the day while still digesting an excessive amount of mussels consumed here in Brussels at a local spot called “Chez Leon” near the Grand Place. I highly recommend stopping here, if you are a fan of mussels.
Oh also, Happy #nationalselfieday from the European Commission Headquarters!
For our first stop, we headed back to the ARD/ Deutsche Welle TV Station for a chat with DW correspondent Terry Schulz. (https://twitter.com/terischultz?lang=en) She’s an American from New Mexico, who grew up as a cowgirl, changed paths when she was 22 and moved to Finland in the 80’s.
Schulz says she wanted to be an international correspondent, found a job in Finland (I’m watering this down quite a bit), took the jump and has had a crazy journey since then.
Terry says although she loves her job, it’s not as glamorous as what some may think. She’s freelanced and had to hustle to get good stories to make a living. She moved back to the states for the season but ended up in Brussels where she reports on NATO. Perks of living in Europe she says are health care and schooling for her kids.
Our next stop is where we spent most of our day. It’s a place, some of you might have heard ofThe European Commission, home of the European Union in Brussels.
The European Union is currently made up of 28 member states, although that could change to 27 very soon if the Brexit move finalizes next year. The European Commission is the home base located in Brussels where the leaders of these 28 countries come to the table to make things happen. The big issues currently are migration and trade. There are a ton of others, but these were the main ones that we focused on today. The group had the chance to sit in on a press conference and then dove into a presentation of the people who are working with all of the issues circling around the EU at the moment. Like I said, a huge one is migration right now. German Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed for a meeting prior to the scheduled EU summit next week. It looks like everyone but Hungary, Poland, Solvakia, and the Czech Republic are in agreement to grant asylum to some migrants. The “Visegrad Four” is not having it. Should be an interesting week.
Tomorrow is the final day in Brussels and the final day of the program! How is it almost to an end already?! Make sure to tune in tomorrow!
Words of the Day: Frites et mayonnaise - French fries and mayonnaise (French) This is a very popular snack in Brussels (Who doesn’t like fries?)
Hello from Brussels, Belgium. Home to NATO, Belgian Chocolate, and The Smurfs (http://www.smurfexperience.com/en/).
After an hour and a half flight on Brussels Airlines the group made the trek from Prague to Brussels. These cities keep getting more and more beautiful. We also got a swanky ride to the hotel. Europe loves their fancy cabs.
I’m now switching from Czech to French, the third language change of the trip. The World Cup is playing on pretty much every TV in town.
Today we went to the ARD bureau in Brussels. ARD started in Germany in 1950 and is a part of the public television news service. The ARD headquarters is in Berlin. Four on-air correspondents and just under 10 radio correspondents work out of the Brussels office.
Today we spoke with Markus Preiß, the head of the ARD studio in Brussels and he is also a political correspondent.
ARD shares it’s building with another public German television station Deutsche Welle, the English language news service headquartered in Berlin. DW Senior Correspondent for European Affairs, Barbra Wesel took a break in between her live hits to chat with us about all things Europe.
Right now, everyone is kind of holding their breath to see how things in the German Parliament are going to play out and if a solution for the refugee issue will surface.
Tomorrow, we head to the European Commission.
Au revoir! (Remember, we’re in Brussels now!)
Travel day! Hello Prague
Word of the day: Ahoj - Hello (Czech)
Today we left the beautiful town of Dresden and traveled through the boarder to the Czech Republic. We took the train to Praha, aka Prague. A story book like city center full of tourists and culture. Old town is a must see!
But let’s back track to an very enlightening part of the day, a stop a Radio Free Europe--a news organization in Prague with television, radio, and digital news components in more than 25 countries around the world.
We spoke with Kiryl Sukhotski, the Executive Editor of news at the organization’s television station, “Current Time Tv” and Alisher Siddique, who is the director of the organization’s Uzbek Service. The organization focuses on getting news to countries that don’t have free press, the largest country of focus is Russia. Correspondents are based on the ground in the various countries as well as at the headquarters in Prague. These are stories that wouldn’t be told by the mainstream media because a lot of it is controlled by the state. Siddique’s work is very unique in that he is helping the people of Uzbekistan break the information blockade in a very closed society by helping citizens bring issues to the forefront and break the news through social media.
We only had one day in Prague and now it’s about a half hour until midnight. Tomorrow, we travel to Brussels for the final days of the program!
Make sure to tune in! Bis Morgen!
Word of the Day: Ausgang - Exit (It’s nice to know what this means when you are trying to get out of the subway station)
Hey Everyone! Our first weekend in Berlin was pretty fun! I’ve heard some people call the town the New York City or Las Vegas of Germany because the city doesn’t sleep. But it’s far different than any American city I’ve been. It has it’s own culture and own atmosphere. Lots of fun watching Germany’s first World Cup game, although they lost 1-0 to Mexico. Now we start day one of week two!
We hopped on a train and traveled to Dresden to explore and learn about one of the most beautiful cities in Germany.
Here’s what the area around my hotel looks like:
Stop 1, The Volks Wagon Gläserne Manufaktur Dresden (Transparent Factory). They call it the transparent factory because it’s mostly made of glass. The plant produces about 70 cars per day and they focus on electric cars. The factory is very high tech and utilizes autonomous technology on the factory floor to assist the workers in building the cars.
Stop 2 The Saxon Parliament building. The group sat down at Chiaveri, a restaurant on one of the balcony’s of the Parliament building, overlooking the Elbe river. We sat down with Mr. Viktor Vincze who works with the the Commissioner for Foreign Nationals. The big news now is division in the country over refugees.
Tomorrow we travel to Prague!
Word of the day: Eichhörnchen- Squirrel
Tip of the day: Don’t ever park your bike in the front car of the Berlin subwayit’s needed for wheelchair ramp access.
It’s Friday, Fri-yay, and the city is crawling with those looking for a party (It’s 2:00 a.m. here). I’m writing so late today because we had a very full day and late night. It ended on a “blind date” with a couple of former RIAS Fellows news producer Anna Mielke (Anne Will Talkshow) and radio host Christoph Scheld (ARD). Check out our dinner conversation below.
But let’s back track a few steps to today’s schedule starting near the East side of town in Kreuzberg. We met with former Green Party parliament member Mr.
Ozcan Multu. After having a traditional Turkish meal,
Multu took us on a tour of the ground he grew up on in that area. Some of the buildings in this neighborhood survived both world wars and are still standing.
Then we went over to Multu’s old stomping grounds, The Reichstag Building, one of Germany’s most prominent government buildings. It’s where Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament meets and works. According to our tour guide it’s the second largest building visited in Germany with three million visitors Can you name the 1st? (No cheating)
Answer: Kölner Dom
Phrase of the Day: “Durchfahrt verboten”- Passage forbidden, or do not pass.
How is it already Thursday?
Our first week is moving on by and today’s schedule was packed with journalists meeting more journalists.
But first, the group had lunch with a state level politician in Germany. Barbara Richstein from the Federal state of Brandenburg joined the group for a breakfast chat. Richstein is a member of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU). German Chancellor Angela Merkel currently leads that party. As a politician, Richstein must be elected in, but says German elections are far different from American elections. Candidates in Germany cannot start hanging up campaign banners until a few weeks before the election. Another big difference is that large sums of money aren’t spent on campaign TV ads, in fact according to Richstein there are very few tv ads if any. Could you imagine that in America?
After breakfast, we hopped on the tube and went over to ZDF, a public TV station in Berlin where we spoke with reporter Bernd Benthin and main morning anchor, Mitri Sirin. Their morning studio set up is pretty cool. It’s a studio, smack dab right in the middle of the building’s court yard.
We compared the similarities and differences in German and American coverage of certain issues, like politics, crime, and scandals. Something vastly different about Germany’s coverage on terrorist attacks or major crimes is that they blur out the person’s face and only give a partial name in efforts to prevent copy cats.
If you love your NPR and happen to have listened in Los Angeles, you’ve probably heard of KCRW. Well now you can get your KCRW fix in Berlin with the recently launched, KCRW Berlin. Our third stop of the day, placed us in the KCRW Berlin conference room where we spoke with the station’s Director Susan Woosley. While the station still plays large national shows, like All Things Considered and Morning Edition, KCRW Berlin will focus its reports on the city and people of Berlin.
Our last stop of the day was out in the middle of a magical the forest ( or that’s what it felt like) for a RIAS alumni reunion. Stone Brewing, yes the same Stone you see in American grocery stores, opened a brewery in Berlin. The brewery originally opened it’s doors in San Diego. Co-Founder and CEO Greg Koch, surprised the group after a tour of the area where they make the beer. The Berlin location is large and split into a brewery and restaurant area. He took over my iPhone for a chat onwell beer.
After speaking with Greg, two RIAS alums, Mirja Fiedler with public television station Deutsche Welle, and Ben Wenck with public radio station RBB/DPA braved the social media task of chiming in on Facebook live with me right before dinner.
Gut Nacht! Bis Morgen!
Word of the Day: “Mittagessen” - Lunch
We’ve reached our third day here in Berlin and it was a very eye-opening one.
As many of you know, Berlin was once separated by a wall. Today we took a trip to a portion of the wall that’s been preserved by the city. The wall divided a sector controlled by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in the East from those in the West. On August 13th, 1961 the GDR blocked off the sector border with rolls of barbed wire and construction of the wall began without warning. Those on the east were not allowed to leave to the west. Fast forward to 2018 most of the wall is gone, however, a memorial is now in its place. It pays homage to those who died trying to escape from East Berlin prior to the wall coming down in 1989. It’s an exhibit that is free and open to the public and allows you to not just get up close to the wall, but also step inside what was once known as the “death strip."
This is the area in between the two border walls that was heavily guarded by soldiers from East Berlin, that were ordered to capture those who tried to escape. If they couldn’t capture them, they had orders to kill them. A beautiful memorial recognizing all those who died trying to escape now stands near the place they were killed.
The next stop for the group was over to Deutsche Welle TV, a large television station that broadcasts the news, for an international audience in multiple languages. We focused on the shows broadcasting in English and met two Anchors at the station, Megan Doody (American) and Ben Fajzullin (Australian). Although this television station competes with networks like CNN, it’s not privately funded. Millions of dollars from the government keep this station running, meaning that they aren’t revenue driven. This means, no ratings, commercials, etc (which is far different than most TV stations in the U.S.) While they don’t have investors to please, they still aim to be in a competitive space. Content is king.
Our last stop was over to an old German Bunker built in 1942 (during Hitler’s reign) to protect Arians from bombs getting dropped on Berlin in World War II. It’s 6,500 square meters, has five floors, and was planned for 3,500 peoplebut nearly 12,000 sought shelter there at the end of the war. This wasn’t “Hitler’s Bunker”, although that wasn’t too far away (closer to the Brandenburg Gate) The Bunker was eventually turned in to a place to store food, and is now used to give people a chance to learn by a walkthrough documentary experience on how Hilter came to power. If you’re ever in Berlin, you can check out the tour for about 12 euros. More information here. (https://www.berlinstory.de/)
Head to the photo gallery to see photos from today.
Did you learn something new? Bis morgen!
Hello again from Berlin. I want to start teaching you all some words I’ve learned here.
Word of the Day: “danke schön” - thank you very much!
Today, I was overly excited about a doorless elevator system called the “Paternoster”. It’s a lift system without a door and the largest one in Europe is located inside the Axel Springer building. It goes up 19 floors. Check it out.
Once again, just to update you, I’m here in Berlin with journalists from all over the United States for an exchange program with an organization called RIAS.
We had a very full day today, meeting some people very high up in Germany’s political scene, as well as some of the more popular tourists' spots in Berlin.
Today’s itinerary included the Federal Press Office Building, The Axel Springer Building home of BILD, Germany’s most popular tabloid, (Yes, that’s the one with the doorless elevator), Brandenburg Gate, Check Point Charlie and then we ended up at the U.S Embassy to meet with Ambassador Richard Grenell, (no recording devices were allowed inside)
Most of the conversations we had with the political figures were off the record however, I filled you in on some items that were discussed that is already public knowledge in our Facebook Live chat here:
Hey everyone, it’s Faith!
Welcome to Berlin... (well virtually). For the next three weeks, I’ll be taking you with me throughout the city to explore this area and surrounding cities like Dresden, Prague, and Brussels.
I’m here with a journalism exchange program called RIAS with 14 other journalists from around the U.S. During this time we’ll be participating in an incredible itinerary visiting the some of the popular stops in Berlin as well as having conversations with German politicians, journalists, and professors.
In between the planned experiences, I’ll be venturing off the tourist scene to experience the life of the locals. I hope you join me for the next few weeks and join the conversation through our social media outlets!