July 7, 2014

Journey to the Heart of Germany: Part 1

I went to Germany in November of 2012, and recently, I wrote an essay for a scholarship contest about this trip. Unfortunately, the maximum amount of words is only 600, and I wrote much, much more, so I saved the longer version for this series of blog posts and submitted a consolidated version instead ;)
I hope you enjoy the next few posts and I hope they inspire you to go visit Germany for yourself one day!


Journey to the Heart of Germany Part 1

Have you ever had an unfortunate event stand in the way between you and your highly anticipated trip? In November of 2012, Superstorm Sandy struck the East coast, and my state of New Jersey was heavily impacted. For one entire week, the town was out of power and schools were closed for a week. While most of the district was delighted to have a week off, the music department at my high school was worried. We were scheduled for a music tour to Germany, where we would explore and play concerts at Dresden, Leipzig, and Berlin for a week, and nearly 200 people were worried about whether or not the trip would be canceled due to the cancellations of flights and our lack of contact due to the loss of internet and power heightened our worries. To top that off, two days before we were scheduled to fly, after the storm had passed and the town was slowly waking up from the impacts of the storm, I played a game of basketball with my brother and a group of boys from my church. If only I had the power to foresee the future at the moment, because I ultimately ended up fracturing my pinky finger on my dominant right hand, a crucial body part that I would need to play the viola.

exploring the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in our backyard

uprooted trees, scattered leaves

Grandpa & I cleaning up our backyard after the storm

nutella hot chocolate with a chopped up snickers bar...and if you can believe it, i sometimes went through two of these a day.

these two little cuties

my DIY project when I was at home, bored out of my mind without contact with my friends. my family was actually fortunate enough to have electricity & wifi (probably because we live so close to a fire station, so we're probably on the same electricity grid), but none of my friends had wifi so i couldn't talk to them

typical me before I realized how dairy & gluten negatively impacts me: croissant & hot                                                        chocolate while flipping through design magazines

                Despite the series of unfortunate events, fate had nothing against us. There would be no way that we would allow our adventure be spoiled. The day before our scheduled departure and the day after my injury, we performed a concert at our other high school in our district and I left early for a late night visit to the local urgent care center to get a brace for my pinky. In retrospect, our levels of excitement were heightened by the fact that we would be able to escape the chaos that the superstorm left us in; parts of our school had flooded and a few classrooms on the second floor had collapsed ceilings due to the weight of the rain. So as expected, the coach buses were buzzing with commotion throughout the entire trip to JFK airport, until our orchestra conductor received a phone call: the flight would be delayed for ten hours. We didn’t know what to expect, but the airline decided to compensate for the delay by giving us all $10 (?) vouchers to spend at the airport on food. Unfortunately, the 10 hours included a 1 hour wait to check our baggage in (we looked like we were camping out in the airport), and then a large group of us, including myself, were also held up at the baggage check-in counter for an extra hour before heading through security because the airline’s ticket system didn’t recognize our passports. Thankfully, passing through security was a breeze, and I was able to join my friends who were waiting for me at our gate.

we stretched all the way around the baggage check in area

i finally got to our gate

at the gate, with my carry-on Olsenboye messenger bag (gift from my brother <3), my viola, and a very tired face ;)

Now, ten hours in an airport seems like a torturous ordeal, but add a group of 200 kids from your school and suddenly, the airport has become simply an official playground. The extra time we were allotted gave us time to bond with our friends and teachers before our trip, strengthening our friendships before we were destined to see each other 24 hours per day for seven days. After stopping by Starbucks, my friends and I wandered off into another section of the airport and sat at an empty gate, just talking and doing our hair for 1.5 hours. We then wandered into an Italian restaurant, where we played peek-a-boo from three tables away with the cutest little boy! 
scone from Starbucks

salted caramel...something from Starbucks (wouldn't recommend it :(, it was sickly sweet and I'm a sugar-addict)

my hair courtesy of my friend Soyeong (i'm not going to post any photos with anyone else out of respect for their privacy! so you'll have to live through just some photos of me ;) sorry)

our trek

After the domino effect of chaotic events and the 8 hour plane ride (for the record, Air Berlin does not have the best food and the entertainment choices are decent but not the best either), we finally arrived in Berlin and embarked on a 2 hour drive to the city of Dresden. During our ride, our weary bodies were delighted by the sights of massive wind turbines throughout the highways and the haunting trees that reminded us faintly of the enchanted forest where many of the Brothers’ Grimm’s fairytales took place......

Berlin-Tegel International Airport

wind turbines all over the highways of Germany. a tour guide told us that the air was so polluted after WWII that the government decided to clean everything up by implementing clean energy. 
dang they're awesome.

i was the only one awake during the rest of our ride to Dresden, and i managed to capture a  decent, non-blurry photo of the sunset from the bus


come back tomorrow to find out more about my experience in Dresden :)
for now, here are some sneak peeks:

hope you're excited!!!

xoxo, Hannah

No comments:

Post a Comment