Hamburg even had a seedy-underbelly called the Reeperbahn, pronounced "Raper-barn." Kidding, that's not how it's pronounced; that's only how most of the establishments look. We stayed here long enough for Nate to try out some urinals that were conveniently installed on the sidewalk as a way to prevent public urination (it works!), and for me to find some baklava because, again, it was my birthday. Stop judging.
From Hamburg, we jumped on a bus to the capital city itself: Big Bad Berlin. After a few days rest made possible through the incredible generosity of a TESOL colleague of mine and his family (Thanks again, Evan, Christine, and Eddie!), Nate and I took Berlin head on. Through a free walking tour, we were able to visit the place where thousands of books were burned by Hitler's Third Reich, walk along a wall that until the late 1980s divided a city in half, and peer down at the last remaining portion of the "death-strip," a space between two 10-foot tall walls that was filled with sand (so as to see escapee foot prints better) and dogs and/or spikes (so as to make sure the escapees didn't make it to the other side). Germany is responsible for World War II and a genocide that killed millions of Jews, and it makes sure that every single man, woman, and child remembers their dark past. Sign posts all over the city serve almost as an outward expression of a desire for today's generation of Germans to never forget or repeat those atrocities. In fact, one is hard-pressed to see German flags beyond those adorning government buildings. Most Germans we talked to had pride in their nation but were extremely cautious about displaying any kind of overt nationalism.