Training through Germany
19.06.2009 - 20.06.2009
In 1976, my mother took my daughter to Europe. They visited Berlin - both East and West.
The above photo shows my 13 year old daughter who was traveling with my mother. She is holding my old Kodak Retina Reflex film camera. They had some problem at Checkpoint Charlie, because my mother's last name was different from my daughter's last name, but they did eventually get through. Initially I wanted to take a private tour and visit this museum, but that did not work out.
19 June 2009 - At some point today, I discovered to my horror that my granddaughter's camera had been reset to take pictures of about 100 pixels instead of the more normal 3000 pixels. I don't think she believed me about it - she kept saying I was looking at thumbnails, but it was true.
20 June 2009
We were supposed to be at the Queens Lounge (i.e. the theatre) at 0700 this morning, so we had breakfast delivered, and as usual, it came 10 minutes before the wakeup call. If I set the breakfast as 0600 to 0630, and the wakeup call to 0540, the breakfast comes at 0530. I can't get it right no matter what I do. I suspect they do our breakfast early because we have no eggs or hot things in it. The only hot thing we ordered was my granddaughter's coffee.
Anyway we did get up and breakfast and get dressed and up to the Queens Lounge before 0650 to find that they weren't announcing the groups there and that they had already done our group, which was #1. So we toddled right outside, and there was a tall girl with the number one sign and she gathered all of us together in several parking places marked off on the pavement. It turned out that we were walking across to the train.
My granddaughter really likes trains.
The guide made us go into the compartments in the order that we arrived at the train and in our compartment there were already four people, two by the window. I wanted to go into the next compartment so I could take pictures, but the girl wouldn't let me, and none of the people would move.
The guide said there was nothing to take a picture of but forests (which wasn't true).
So we sat next to the corridor. It actually turned out to be good as we could go into the corridor easily and put down the window to take pictures of things like the big electricity generating windmills
cows and fields.
We were also in the last car in the train which meant B could go out and take photos of the train tracks behind us.
She also took a video. Her camera has been restored to regular picture size. There was a toilet there at the end of the car, which I used
and also a dining car a couple of cars forward if we wented it. I took a photo of the corridor, and my reflection makes it look as if I have no head.
Our minder passed out lunch boxes about 0800 which consisted of a sandwich, water
and a piece of candy called a Haribo Goldbaren which was sort of like gummy bears. Afterwards we got a piece of butterscotch hard candy.
Our companions turned out to be two couples who were or had been school teachers in Phoenix - one of whom had a replacement knee and who was almost as slow at walking as I am. One of them commented about graffiti and asked whether it was deliberate. So there was a discussion about whether it was tagging or art. B looked for and photographed some of the "art" graffiti. We have also had an on-going discussion about vandalism. She lumps graffiti into vandalism, and I think that vandalism is more than just graffiti.
Apparently I was so disappointed at not sitting by the window that the guide/minder told me she saved a front seat in the bus for me with an umbrella. Sure enough, when we got to the bus, there was an umbrella across the seats that were right behind the guide's jumpseat.
We picked up a Berlin guide at this point.
We were in the old East Germany so we had a tour of the old East Berlin. We saw quite a few Trabi cars which had been - the guide told us - the only cars you could buy in East Germany, and were cheap plastic boxes, which even though they were cheap, you still had to wait several years to get one.
My granddaughter loved these cars and so we took a lot of photos of the
About 1030 we got to Checkpoint Charlie and it was clear to me that we were going to get out and walk, so I said I would stay on the bus and I did. These are the photos that my granddaughter took on her walk.
She walked through and along the old wall which is marked on the road with bricks.
The bus drove around to meet them on the other side.
We passed the Siegessäule on the bus although we did not get to actually visit. It was designed by Heinrich Strack after 1864 to commemorate the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian War. By the time it was inaugurated on 2 September 1873, Prussia had also defeated Austria in the Austro-Prussian War (1866) and France in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71). These were called the "Unification Wars". The statue of the bronze Victoria designed by Friedrich Drake is on the top.
According to internet sites: Built on a base of polished red granite, the column sits on a hall of pillars with a glass mosaic designed by Anton von Werner.
The column itself consists of four solid blocks of sandstone, three of which are decorated by cannon barrels captured from the enemies of the Unification Wars. The fourth ring was added by Hitler after the Battle of France ended.
..In 1939, the Nazis relocated the column to its present site at the Großer Stern (Great Star), a large intersection on the city axis that leads from the former Berliner Stadtschloss (Berlin City Palace) through the Brandenburg Gate to the western parts of the city. The place it originally stood was heavily bombed by the Allies so it probably would not have survived.
The relief decoration was removed at the request of the French forces in 1945, and without a British-American veto, the French would have dynamited the monument after the war. It was restored for the 750th anniversary of Berlin in 1987 by the French president at that time, François Mitterrand. However, several sections remain in France.
You can visit by walking through one of four tunnels under the heavily trafficked circle, built in 1941 according to the plans of Albert Speer. For a small fee you can climb a steep spiral staircase of 285 steps almost to the top of the column, to just under the statue. From this perspective you can look over the Tiergarten including the Soviet War Memorial, 1946, in line with the Nazi proposed north-south triumphal way by Speer and Hitler.
By 1100 we were at the Brandenberg Gate,
and I did get out there and took some photos of B.
Then we stopped for another photo op at the part of the wall that remains.
Then because streets were being blocked off for some kind of bike race tomorrow, we went back to Checkpoint Charlie
and this time it was to go to lunch so I did get pictures of B there after all.
We went to a place called Maximillians where we were to have 'typical' German fare.
It was a buffet.
There were two kinds of salad, chicken paprika and sausages and sauerkraut, roast pork, fish and various vegetables and potatoes. Also soft pretzels which were very very salty.
There was a kind of pudding in a glass with raspberry (or some kind of berry) topping on it, which was very good.
Then we drove to the dock to get on the ferry
For a Visit to Potsdam