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ITALIA: what else?

It was the 22ndJuly 2018 when I left for Berlin with a blue polo shirt, the uniform of the Lions Club International – MD 108 Italy. It was the first experience with this association and since the beginning I discovered how everything was perfectly organised. The plane took off from Malpensa and landed at Berlin Tegel in the evening. There I met my host father, a 60-year-old man married with a 50-year-old male partner. I spent an entire week with Bernhard – his husband has been abroad for the whole week – and he was always available and kind. During my stay at his house we visited the city centre together and I hanged sometimes with other guys of the camp I got to know the first week. I visited different museums during the first days and the one I loved most was the Wall Museum – Checkpoint Charlie, where people can learn every aspect of the “Mauer”. I was deeply stuck by the reproduction of the escape through the insuperable wall hiding people in the tidy trunk of the cars. On Tuesday I went with my host father on a bicycle tour of 30 kilometres along the watercourses of the city discovering the local nature. It’s been a great tiring day. Then we went to the top of the tower of the “Olympia Stadion” from where we could admire the view of the entire city.

On Wednesday I took part in a tour guide around the city with other guys of the camp I had got to know on Monday evening. We started from the Brandenburg Gate, an 18thcentury neoclassical monument built on the orders of Prussian king Frederick William II as a former city gate that marked the start of the road from Berlin to the town of Brandenburg an der Havel. We reached on foot the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (the Holocaust Memorial), a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, designed by Peter Eisenmanand and Buro Happold. Then we went to the place where there was Hitler’s bunker, which, after many years of carelessness, indifference and destruction is nowadays no more visitable. Then we went along the remaining part of the wall and later to the Checkpoint Charlie. On Thursday we visited Kreuzberg and on Friday we went on a boat tour on the “Wannsee”. On Saturday I hanged out with some of the guys of the camp and we went doing shopping in the city centre, visiting Friedrischstraße, Alexanderplatz, das KaDeWe and other huge malls of Berlin. 

On the 29thJuly the camp started. We left our host families and meet in the afternoon in the “Smart Stay Hotel”. It’s been a great moment to see all the guys from all over the world together. In the evening we had dinner with the Lions and some of the host families and played some games with the LEOs to get to know each other. I really had fun and I was surprised by the difference of the English accents of each of us, but at the same time by the hunger for fun, the big smile everybody had on the face and the availability of becoming a large family. The day after we played a team game in which we had to answer some questions about Berlin, discovering the things walking around the centre. It’s been a great way to have a direct impact to the attractions we were asked to look for. After the lunch at the “Fernsehturm” – an exciting lunch at 207 metres of height – we went to the Embassy of Finland where some of my mates gave the presentation of their countries. Here I discovered that the beauty is everywhere in the world and that variety is the spice of life. After dinner we went to the open air gallery of graffiti where we painted, drank something and celebrated my birthday. As usual, we went to bed at 11 pm. On the 31stJuly we visited the parliament, the so called “Bundestag”. After lunch we should have visited the Graffiti Museum but we had the possibility to go back to the hostel to relax. In the evening we had dinner on a large boat with the host families and the Lions. Food was perfect, music great, and the weather lovely. On Wednesday we visited the “Olympic Stadion” of Berlin and in the afternoon we went sailing and I learnt lots of things about sailing boats. It’s been a challenging and exciting afternoon. The following day we went to visit a museum, “Kunsthaus Dahlem”, where there were a lot of strange sculptures. To tell the truth, I didn’t enjoy too much this visit, but I loved its last part, when we drew a painting on a canvas.  In the afternoon we gave the presentation of Italy with other guys. In the evening we played minigolf and had dinner in a “Biergarten”. On the 3rdAugust we went to Charlottenburg and had a boat tour with the historic slavs ship “Triglav”. Later we went to a camp where we played different ancient games like archery and javelin before having a barbecue. In the evening we had a walk in Bismarckstraße and even if it’s a quiet part of the city, it’s really nice. We ate an ice cream and then went back to the hostel. On the 4thAugust we had half a day off and we only did the washing-up. For lunch I went to a restaurant with Andrei and Harsch and ate a pizza. In the afternoon we met a Leo club and went to play beach volley. The only problem was the heat because it was too hot, but I enjoyed it anyway. For dinner we went to a Biergarten and then we went back to the hostel. We had a walk with Carlos’ host brother and then we went to our room. The following day we moved from Berlin towards Warnemünde, a pretty city in the north of the country at the seaside. Unfortunately it was extremely cold and cloudy, we thought it would have started raining.  We left by bus and the long journey let us relax before the busy day. When we reached our destination we had a walk on the pavement along the beach wearing jumpers as if it was winter, we went to a café and then we did a boat tour in the port. It was so windy that we were freezing. Later we had lunch all together and the weather got better. In the afternoon we went to the beach and most of us entered the water. On the beach we had a snack, listened to music and took photos. It’s been a great moment. In the evening we should have had a barbecue on the beach but we did it at the house of one of our guides. Then we went back to the beach to watch the sunset. Later we moved to an hostel in Rostock for the night and the next morning we went to the centre of this city where we had a guide tour. The city is not really large and I really enjoyed the visit at the church with its huge watch. At noon we went back to Warnemünde where we had a walk and did shopping. At 14:30 we had lunch at an Italian restaurant and later we went back to the hostel in Berlin. On 7thof August we went to the YAAM where we did a Graffiti workshop. Firstly we drew a sketch and the we did the graffiti on the wall. Then we had lunch in an African restaurant. In the afternoon we participated to a dance lesson. We danced salsa and bachata and it’s been a great moment because we danced all together.
In the evening we had lunch in a pizzeria along the river and when we came back to the hostel we played cards. On the 8
thAugust we went to Potsdam, a lovely city close to Berlin. It’s been one of my favourite days. We went to the museum Barberini where there is an exposition of modern art. There where paintings by Gerhard Richter. The thing I preferred was the fact that this painter privileged the feelings and the abstract. In fact he didn’t want to represent reality and, as he affirmed, he doesn’t think that artists should copy reality, but make it visible. Illusion was another important factor of the paintings.
Then we had lunch in an Italian restaurant and I got to know a guy from Leo, Jonas, a nice person I really got on well with. We spent the afternoon in the Film Park Babelsberg, and it’s been really interesting to see what’s behind a film and how the film production works. Later we went to the beach on a lake which was nearby and then we had dinner in a Japanese restaurant. The following day we went back to Potsdam and we had a boat tour around the Havel. Later we went to Klaistow by taxi, had lunch in a fantastic restaurant and went climbing at the Climbing Park Klaistow. At 7 o’clock we had a barbecue in the same place. It was extremely delicious, also because we were really hungry. Then we went back to the hostel and in the train we danced all together. It’s been an embarrassing experience because everybody was staring at us. On 10
thAugust we had half day off and we went to the Mall of Berlin where we did shopping and then we had lunch there. Later we went to the Embassy of Malaysia where some guys gave their presentations. This afternoon has been really interesting. At the end we met a Leo group and then had a tour of Kreuzberg with a tour guide. At 9 o’clock we had dinner in a German restaurant and then we had a walk around Kreuzberg. On 11thAugust we had half a day off and I went with my mates again to Kreuzberg and we have a walk together before lunch. In the afternoon we went back to the hostel and we started packing. Later we went to the dinner all together with Gabriela, Hennes, all the Lions and the host families. It’s been a great dinner, but at the same time really depressing and sad. The following day was the last day. I was happy for what happened in those three weeks, but I was sad for leaving this city and all the people I had met.
Anyway, I learnt that everything must come to an end, but also that the world is not so big and we will have the possibility to meet again, maybe in the city we all fell in love with, Berlin. 


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