Day 11

Day 11

Last day in Berlin. 6:00 am Kristen and I are woke up against our will at the hands of someone’s loud electric toothbrush. Which wasn’t close to as bad as what followed: one of our roommates leaving the room multiple times, slamming the door or leaving it open while she roamed the halls. I wasn’t impressed with her. We had breakfast at 8am and loaded the bus at 9. We then spent the next 4 hours in transit from Berlin to Bergen-Belsen. We arrived late, which is basically expected from everyone at this point, it takes us forever as a group to get anywhere, we could be traveling 10 minutes away but it would take this group 30 minutes to load the bus. We arrived at the camp and ate lunch before heading over to Bergen-Belsen. The concentration camp is a large space with memorials and mass grave sites. We were given free time to walk around the massive space. It was surprisingly beautiful, at this point anything that was there is gone and what is left are things that have been built up to ensure people remember. Few traces of the actual camp remain, the mass graves remain to remind visitors of what happened there.
Similar to Auschwitz, it is hard to imagine what has happened here, mostly because if you put me at the back of the memorial I honestly couldn’t tell you that we were inside of what once held prisoners. Around the park there are piles of small stones placed among the memorials and graves, I will need to do more research on those but I assume it has something to do with remembrance. the camp Bergen-Belsen is where Anne Frank and her sister Margo spent their last days, so at the camp there is a memorial for the two girls. Anne Frank holds unspeakable importance to the Holocaust, even though she is the face for the thousands of children that died, she has served to give a face to the voiceless and the children whose identity was stripped from them. It takes a while to wrap you head around how many children are behind the story of Anne Frank who all had similar lives and families before war but succumbed to the same fate. All of this starts to weigh a bit heavy on you when you actually take a bit of time to think about what it would mean to be taken from where you are now and put through hell.
When we finished at the camp we returned to our bikes to prepare to cycle the 30km back to our campground. As soon as we started our bike it started raining, so our 2 hour bike became the worst experience of this trip by far. It was extremely cold and windy, and if that wasn’t enough the bus would drive by periodically with the camera crew to catch our experience on film, because I want to remember that. However on the plus side I was moved from group 3 to group 1 which is basically like going from beginner to advanced in one day. These kids were way better cyclists and waaaaaay more organized. For instance, one person will yell “single file” and within seconds the whole group is in a line. But we also got lost contently, the leaders decided to send us the scenic route back, which meant our leader having to guess which way to go for the two hours. I have some pretty miserable memories though since we spent the whole time in the rain. I wrote down some things that apparently made me really mad in the moment, but I got over them:
-stopped at every dirt to debate if that was the way to go, but we didn’t drive any single-lane dirt roads on the bus so why would we go back down them?
-stopping to plug in backup phone chargers, honestly people. keep your priorities straight
We finally made it back at 7pm to warm food and cute little cottages to stay in for the night. After eating Kristen and I went and got our stuff and settled inside for the night. I refused to go back outside in the cold, so instead we sat in our cottage drank tea and chatted. Oh also watched German-dubbed versions of Disney channel movies.


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