The gates opened at 4pm. We wanted to get there early so we got there shortly after that. We found out ahead of time that they filtered people through Strase des 17 next to the Brandenburger Tur (where Obama originally wanted to speak.)
Side note: I think it was hilarious the news media kept mentioning he picked the Siegesssaeule to speak in front of instead of the Brandenburger Tur because it was right next to the Brandenburger Tur which is where he was going to speak in the first place.
But of course I digress. We read somewhere on the Internet that we couldn't bring bags but since we have a 2 year old, I looked up things to say to the sicherheit (security) who tried to take my bags filled with trains, crackers, diapers, wipes and other very important things to a 2 year old.
1. You are crazy!
2. My 2 year old needs that!
3. What kind of crazy person are you that you would take that away from a 2 year old?
1. Du bist verrückt!
2. Meine 2-jährige braucht!
3. Welche verrückte Person sind Sie, dass Sie in Anspruch nehmen würde, weg von einer 2 - jährigen?
Luckily for them, I never had to use my very bad German on them. I couldn't believe they even attempted to check everyone who showed up in such an open area but they did. We were all filtered through many security lines in total German fashion-pushing and shoving without an Entschuldigung or excuse me.
They put everyone, all 200,000 people who showed up, through metal detectors and looked through our bags. I went through the metal detector with my stroller AND B which of course went off. The guard looked at me and I asked (in German) if I needed to be checked again. He replied - yes with a female officer. Then, the female officer next to him looked at me and B and said I was finished. ( I would like to think it was because I spoke German but who knows?)
UPDATE: I forgot to mention they were looking for dangerous things and people and my friend Ameeth qualified. He got his swiss army knife confiscated!
It was still almost 3 hours before he was to speak so we were able to get up nice and close. We are also trying to practice German Integration so we did what every good German does-Drink Bier! This is a pic of me and my superfly friend Tamara. Just as we were drinking bier and enjoying ourselves, a German cover band of Bob Marley starts singing. Odd to hear "get up, stand up, stand up for your rights." The crowd eventually got so big that we were not able to move anymore and thus cut off of our bier supply. So we made the best of it by showing B how to do "terrorist fist jabs" C also mocked the press corps by shouting "Brian Williams Sucks! (Only later we realized it was not Brian Williams but some Fox News Anchor.) (give us a break-doesn't he look like Brian Williams from far away????)
Finally, the Man-of-the-Hour came on! We were only about 100m or 300ft from him. It was kind of cool but I swear the Sun was shining a sunbeam directly on him (which made for a virtual religious experience in person but bad photos)
His speech was nothing memorable but a good speech. The crowd clapped a lot when he mentioned his Dad was from Kenya. He talked about being a world citizen which made my oddly non-sentimental heart swell a little. He alluded to the fact that he wanted Germany to help put troops in Afghanistan (which Merkel promptly said No!) He got BIG applause for talking about ending the Iraq War. You can see a video and a transcript of his speech here.
I have to admit I was a little disappointed. It was almost exactly 30 min-too short! There was also talk he was going to say much more. Of course, my logical self should have known better but I was slightly disappointed. The important thing that came out of the speech was that it was well received. The Germans LOVE HIM. I thought I would be surrounded by Americans but we were definitely surrounded by a lot of Germans asking us about American politics. For our (especially the Scientist) politics junkie selves, we were glad we were a part of it.
All in all, it was nice to be somewhere with an American politician not being protested! Well, and of course the obligatory crazy American outfits. It was definitely worth it to go for that!END: Obama speech
BEGIN: more good bier drinking
We (Me, C, B, Ameeth, Tamara and Arthur) finished of the night with uhhh...dare I say lest you think I am turning into an alcoholic... more beer...and food! We were starving!
We looked around and saw people with pizza. We looked at the menu and saw nothing that suggested pizza. When it was finally our turn, we asked politely for pizza and they noticed our accents and gave us an English menu. We still saw no pizza but something called Flammkuchen (translated literally means flame
Arthur who is much more fluent in German than I, also tried to order. He asked for risotto with ohne Kaese (no cheese) The guy behind the counter told me it wouldn't taste good without cheese. This coversation ensued until finally we think we ordered something.
We went back to the table and could not figure out if any food was going to come but eventually it did. The server brought the risotto with ohne Kaese but then asked if parmesan was cheese. uhhh last time I checked it was....We didn't want to be wasteful so Arthur just ate it!
B was totally a tired little guy but what a trooper. He fell asleep with his train in his stroller.
All in all, a good day to be in Berlin and a good day to be an American....
UPDATE: My friend Ameeth was lucky enough to catch our chant! WARNING...some extra cute Baby Bird footage ahead!