12:51 PM EDT, September 4, 2012
It's Tuesday morning here in Berlin.
Sunday afternoon I left Bradley International Airport, flying to Philadelphia and then on to Berlin following a short layover in Brussels.
I met up with two of my program-mates at the aiport in Berlin: Derrall Stalvey, a television news director in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Tonya Papanikolas, a morning news anchor in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Soon after checking in at our hotel we noticed a "parade" happening at the end of the street.
It turns out the "parade" was a loud protest being put on by ambulance drivers and healthcare workers fighting for higher payments and wages.
After that we headed underground to the subway system. Interestingly, you only scan your subway card once. The rest of the time you just keep it on you, so it's essentially "the honor system". You are subject to random checks though and if caught without a pass you are charged 40 euro (the pass costs 28 Euro normally).
Before long, Derrall and I had arrived at the Olympia Stadion, the "olympic stadium" where American athlete Jesse Owens outdid Hitler and Germany in the 1930s despite Hitler's claims of Aryan superiority.
Next we met up with the majority of our RIAS 2012 group for a hearty German dinner at the "Berliner Republik" restaurant right on the river.
I decided to "go all in" on the German experience and order the "Proud Heinrich", a platter of dark beer-soaked sausage, typical German cabbage and mashed potatoes. Of course, I tried a "Berliner Kind Bier" as well.
The river and surrounding area in Berlin were beautiful at night.
Before dinner Derrall and I had a "celebrity sighting": we spotted a throng of people that included "boom mics". Those are the big fuzzy microphones that you see audio equipment operators holding up in crowds on sticks. Anyway, we naturally flocked to the scene as journalists.
We found ourselves on Berlin's "walk of fame" complete with Gold Stars and everything.
We quickly ascertained that a famous German actress was being swarmed by the media and her adoring fans. Her name is Katarina Thalbach, born in 1954, before starring in several German films.
I was taken aback when suddenly, Derrall turned from news director to "fan boy" and asked Ms. Thalbach to sign the cardboard sleeve of his coffee cup.
She obliged and soon after we headed onto eBay to sell our new collectors item. (Just kidding about the ebay part)
Today we are headed to the German Chancellory (the equivalent of our White House) to meet with a man who is essentially second in command to Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Check in for another update soon!
Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions!