On Monday, May 1st we arrived in the Berlin airport with Ed, the U of A Education Abroad bear safely in tow. We were lucky enough to have 75% of our blog group’s luggage… our fourth group member wasn’t so lucky. Victoria’s luggage had been held up in Frankfurt, but it was delivered to her at the hotel later that evening.
We quickly became acquainted with the Berlin transit system. It’s pretty tough to fit 24 people (and 23 people’s luggage) in a single Berlin bus. We checked into the hotel to drop off our luggage and have a nap before heading off to the welcome dinner at Schleusenkrug that evening. We enjoyed our first taste of German cuisine and made our way back to the hotel to rest up for our first full day in Berlin.
Tuesday morning the bus was a little less crowded than the first day (we were down one straggler who learned the hard way how to work Berlin transit) as we made our way to the Canadian Embassy at Potsdamer Platz. Between the bus stop and the embassy, we saw some remnants of the Berlin Wall that had once coursed its way through this area of town. At the Embassy we enjoyed learning about Germany’s economic, political, and business scene. We ended our time there with a tour of the publicly-accessible premises of the embassy.
The group then split up for lunch, reconvening in the afternoon at the Brandenburg Gate for a visit to the Foundation for Family Enterprise. Here we were given more details about how family businesses operate in Germany including the tax implications specific to succession, transfer, and inheritance. After this discussion, we went our separate ways and formed our own groups, one of which visited KaDeWe (a shopping centre in SW Berlin) and enjoyed a sampling of the delicious sixth-floor cuisine.
Tuesday evening, several members of the class went out to experience the Berlin night life… because of this, Wednesday got off to a bit of a slower start. Amongst our group, some of the things we did included walking (seeing sights like the Reichstag and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe), visiting with old German friends, buying some souvenirs, and taking photos of the renowned German chestnut blossoms. Later in the afternoon, we met for a guided boat tour on the Spree (the main river that flows through Berlin) to take in more sights and sounds of the city (including the Berlin Cathedral). The evening was free, so the group split up to prepare for the busy day ahead.
Written by Study Tour participants Angela, Andrew, Victoria and Kevin.