Although we were sad to depart Switzerland so soon, we woke up early on Thursday ready for the journey ahead.
We arrived at the Basel train station at dawn. After finding our seats in the train car and storing our bags -- our skills in these areas are improving -- settled in for the eight hour ride to Berlin. As the train moved amongst the snowcapped hills and small towns of central Germany, we napped, snacked, and most importantly, we began to revise the final version of our voluminous memo. After some initial panic on the latter point, we set to work for what would become a quite productive ride.
When our Deutsch Bahn ICE train arrived in Berlin the sun had already set, but our day was not over. After checking into our hotel and eating a quick dinner of large, cheap, and delicious doner kebabs, we set out to visit the Bundestag, Germany's House of Parliament. Fortunately, we arrived with a reservation -- under Harvard instead of Dartmouth, but who's counting? -- and in time to watch a plenary session. The session included a sighting of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (who is known as AKK and will potentially follow Angela Merkel as Germany's next Prime Minister) and lots of purple, as well as much hand-raising, sitting, and standing in quick succession. Our comprehension while watching German democracy in action might have been enhanced if even one of us actually spoke some German. Alas. We redeemed ourselves, however, by next climbing to the top of the Bundestag's glass dome. We were treated to a magnificent -- if chilly -- view of Berlin surrounding us. Atop the Bundestag also stood four flags -- three German, one EU -- which seemed somehow revealing to our tired brains.
We made a short stop at the Brandenburg Gate, where some of course picked up Lime scooters, on our way to see the Berliner Philharmoniker, often regarded as among the world's finest orchestras. We were treated to a phenomenal performance of an unusually intense suite of pieces by Kabelac, Dvorak, Berlioz, and Bartok -- a light Christmastime performance of "Ode To Joy" this was not.
We then made our way (Lime scooters again!) back to the hotel, where our nameless asymmetrically-coiffed haunter greeted us over our beds and in our bathrooms (be sure to check out the slideshow above). But we got a great deal of much-needed sleep in spite (or perhaps because?) of her spectre.