His plane was scheduled to arrive Friday afternoon. Wednesday night and Thursday morning, northern Europe had a freak snowstorm hit, leaving us several inches (ahem...I mean, centimeters) of snow. We were just hoping his flights wouldn't be canceled due to the weather. His flights were delayed, but about 2 hours after scheduled arrival, we met in the airport- the first time I've seen an old friend since I left California. We were both pretty hungry by the time we dropped his stuff off at my apartment, so we headed to dinner at a beer garden and restaurant and ordered traditional German meals (Bratwurst and Schnitzel) and beer, which Paul immediately took a liking to. We wrapped up the day with a walk around the Weihnachtsmarkt am Alex (Christmas market at Alexanderplatz) and enjoyed a nice, hot glass of Glühwein, before heading back to my apartment to talk for a while with my roommate.
Saturday, the real tour of Berlin began. After a traditional German breakfast of rolls with meat and cheese slices, we headed out to Museum Island. I wanted to start out by seeing Berliner Dom, but sadly, it was closed for a concert and we weren't able to go inside. Instead, we went right next door to the Altes Museum, housing the Collection of Classical Antiquities.
From there, we walked down Unter den Linden. I tried to point out all the sights on the street, but knowing how many things there are on that street, I probably missed a few. We made it down to Brandenburger Tor, where we stopped for a lunch of Currywurst on the street. We admired the gate, the Christmas tree, and the Menorah set up on Pariser Platz, and looked from afar at the Reichstag, currently surrounded by dozens of police thanks to terrorist threats. We walked around the Holocaust Memorial, otherwise known as the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe, although the museum underneath was closed for some reason.
We took the short walk down the street, and we wound up at Postdamer Platz, where they had another Christmas market. Again, we bought ourselves some warm Glühwein and listened to the Christmas songs, until Katy Perry's "California Gurls" started playing. The Germans around us started dancing and singing along, while we Californians kept saying, "That's not what California's actually like!" We also spent some time seeing the remnants of the wall at Potsdamer Platz before catching the train to Checkpoint Charlie. Considering it was already dark and cold by that point (about 5pm), we headed back to my apartment to chat more someplace a little bit warmer, then headed to a cheap Japanese restaurant for dinner.
Sunday we went a little farther into former West Berlin and saw the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche (Memorial Church) as well as the Christmas market outside. When we finished walking around the church, I wanted to head to another Christmas market that somebody had recommended, but unfortunately, I couldn't find it. Instead we headed over to the Jewish Museum, where they had a Chanukkah market inside. We ate potato latkes and split a gingerbread heart, heard traditional Channukah songs and prayers, and just enjoyed the atmosphere and new experience for a while.
After we saw everything in the Channukah market that we wanted to see, we headed back to a bar at Alexanderplatz for a beer, where Paul tried a Hefeweizen and I tried a grapefruit-flavored beer. Both were enjoyed thoroughly, as was the bar itself. We decided to eat the foods offered at the Christmas market for dinner, so we got goulash, roasted almonds, another cup of Glühwein (yeah, it's that good), and, in Paul's case, a half-meter of bratwurst. The rest of the evening was just spent playing in the park next to my apartment, in the snow, being the California kids we are.
Sadly, the weekend ended quickly, and Monday morning, I had to drop Paul off at the airport before heading to the university. It wasn't all sad, though, since I'll be seeing him again in a couple weeks. Until then, it will just be a quiet couple of weeks.