Today I had my follow-up visa appointment. The last time I was there the official gave me a list of everything I needed to bring with me for this appointment to complete my application process. I needed to extend my health insurance, provide a copy of my father’s passport, show proof of finances with bank statements, and pay 110 euros. I nervously assembled everything on my bed the night before and went over it several times.
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I don’t believe in curses, but if I did, I’d say there was one on me. I often find myself in these ridiculous situations where I have to jump through several hoops just to accomplish one thing. For example, during the process of getting all my visa papers sorted out, I needed to print out a bank statement from my American bank account.

I tried to log into my bank account online but my American bank did not recognize the computer I was using to try and access my account. It blocked access to the account and offered to send a security code to the cell phone I had on file…my American cell phone number…the one I don’t have access to either. Alternatively, I could call my American bank and sort things out with them that way. Seems simple enough, right? Well, of course, my German cell phone card decides to run out of minutes on the exact day I try and do this (Sunday). The funny thing about Berlin is that, despite being a city with several million people, almost nothing is opened on Sunday. I normally refill my cell phone card at the grocery store (the card providers), but because it was Sunday, everything was closed. I tried to buy credit online, but because I had not bought credit online before, they need to physically mail a letter to my listed address to have me sign and send back.

Soooo, I try to buy skype credit to call my American bank to unblock my access so I can print out my bank statement. Skype doesn’t like the first credit card I use, so I have to use a second one. When I finally have skype credit, I call the bank only to have the call drop mid-way through. I call back, get everything sorted out, get access, print the statement, and end up never being asked for it the next morning… That’s just one example, but stuff like that seems to happen to me fairly often. Sometimes it’s German bureaucracy, sometimes it’s just shit luck.

Anyways, after assembling all of my documents I grab a few hours of sleep and go to meet my German native friend who was kind enough to come to my appointment with me. (It was very kind of her considering she literally did not get any sleep the night before and still managed to show up to my appointment, wait with me, and talk to the official when needed)

We sat there for about 45 minutes until my number was called. Despite having been in this building before, I still managed to get turned around and it’s a mad dash to get to the appointment room before they call the next person. To my surprise I had a different person than last time. I was nervous that this person would be more strict on me than the other official. Comparing my experience with that of a friend who went through the same process a few weeks before, they were being overly picky about my application. My friend suggested that she had an easier time of it because she speaks much more fluent German and has held visas previously from other countries. This was my first visa ever, so perhaps that’s why they were scrutinizing me.

Luckily for me, this woman turned out to be more relaxed than the previous official. She barely looked at my financials and had my visa printed out and affixed to my passport by the time I had returned from paying for my appointment at the teller window.

0616141034b Success!!! The visa is good for two years while I prepare to study. (Which hopefully shouldn’t take more than a month or two)10317774_785447604854_7366605239768630238_o

With the visa stuff out of the way, the other weekend was pretty fun. I was hoping to get this posted in time for Friday the 13th, but didn’t have time.

A brave friend of mine and I got flashlights and went to go see the last remaining bunker of the Luna-Lager labor camp around midnight. We had read a report that one of the metal grates baring the entrance had been removed. We wanted to check it out. What better time to go see an old bunker in the middle of the woods outside Berlin than at midnight?

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Unfortunately we walked around and around and could not find the entrance we read about. It did appear as if some of the screws on the metal fixture baring the entrance were brand new. We did run into another couple walking their dogs in the woods late at night. One of the dogs was rather large and didn’t take kindly to coming across strange people with flashlights in the middle of the woods. He snapped and growled, which made my dog-phobic companion scream, but the owners called the dog off and kept walking.

The next day I met up with my exploration companion again to go see a warn torn villa in a neighborhood of Berlin. This time we had a group of international backpackers with us that my friend had met. Usually it’s best to keep urban exploring to small groups, but we were able to pull this off without too much trouble.

The house was bombed during the war and burned out. It’s been left there ever since and now has trees growing through it. We made our way to the coordinates and waited till the coast was clear to climb the fence. Inside it was quiet and beautiful.

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I found a destroyed car in the garage. I looked for any markings that might identify what type of car it was, but didn’t find any.
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After a little while of exploring, one of the neighbors spotted us as he was taking out the trash. We all decided to get out of there as fast as we could, as Germans have a habit of calling the police on people they see doing things they shouldn’t be doing. (Though I think this neighbor was used to people exploring this place)

The next place on our list was an abandoned medical facility that was used by the Free University of Berlin to educate future doctors. The facility was abandoned a few years ago after that university merged their medical program with another university and moved the location of their training. Nonetheless, the facilities still remain.
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We walked around the building’s exterior until we found a spot where the chain-linked fence had collapsed. (more or less) We hoped over the fence, but in doing so I cut the back of my leg and a bit on my inner thigh. I didn’t notice it until a friend pointed out that I was bleeding a little down the back of my leg.
0607141730 As part of my regular exploring gear I carry a first aid kit with bandages and disinfectant wound spray. After 3 minutes I had myself all patched up and was good to go again.
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P1020293 Someone sacrificed a bike…P1020292 P1020336

P1020256 P1020255 P1020250 P1020245 P1020243 P1020239 P1020235 P1020223 P1020214 P1020212 P1020207 P1020197 P1020198 P1020200 P1020203 P1020206 P1020196 P1020226 P1020229 One of the guys we were exploring with loved climbing. He jumped over to this other roof to check out the window lights.P1020231

There is a lecture hall in this facility. While we were there we found a couple of people filming a movie. It was something to do with a wolf and we heard howling as we walked through the building.
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P1020370 We found stairs leading down to the lower parts of the building. It was much cooler down here on this hot summer day.P1020360 P1020359 We were goofing around and taking scary photos until…P1020326 …we found the room…the room for all the dead people.
P1020268 P1020264 Yep, this was the room where they kept the bodies for medical studies.
P1020271 I naturally climbed in…P1020273 “Lie down and relax”
P1020278 We found the operating table and I got to work…10430460_10152284250044713_1749708653132905540_n

Until next time!