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Saturday, June 29, 2013


MONDAY - Day Trip to Berlin

This is our day to see some of Berlin, looks like the sun will come out. We have never been here before and the WWII history of the place is fascinating to Dick.  Although, we know that there is not much left in modern Berlin of what was there prior to 1945, there is still a lot of interesting Berlin history that took place in our life time. 

After breakfast, we drive to the Potsdam railroad station and find a parking slot in the underground garage. With a little help we purchase round-trip tickets into Berlin, walk to the appointed track and board our electrically powered commuter train. We have a selection of seats and the train departs right on time, the hallmark of the Germany better exit or enter in the allotted two minutes or be caught in the door! It takes about 45 minutes with multiple stops for us to arrive at the Alexanderplatz S Bahn station in Berlin.

We get off and are looking for Karl Liebknecht Strasse. Carolyn knows that Bus 100 will take us to Unter den Linden and down to the Brandenburg Gate, one of our must-sees. Naturally, there is no sign and we walk out the door exactly opposite the one we need. So, we get a complete tour around the exterior of the train station before finding our bus. It is a double-decker and we move up top so as to see a little better.

Traffic is heavy and progress is very slow due to heavy construction on Unter den Linden.  Five or six long blocks from the Brandenburg Gate we give up on the bus and start walking. We find a tourist shop and explore it buying several "Pieces of the Wall" as souvenir gifts for grandchildren along with the ubiquitous "pin for Jack."

Unter den Linden is a really pretty tree lined boulevard so we crossed over to the middle and walked toward the gate passing numerous buskers dressed as various military characters. For a fee you could have your picture taken with a bear dressed as a Russian soldier. We walk under the gate and around to the right toward the Reichstag building.

Along and on a fence in this area was a makeshift memorial to people who were killed trying to escape from East Berlin before "The Wall" came down. The area around the Reichstag is closed off and heavily guarded. Circling the block, we return to Unter den Linden and cross over to the south side looking for lunch. Finding a nice looking café with an appealing menu, we sit down at an outside tables and have a nice lunch while people watching.

From the café, we walk past the British Embassy to the Holocaust Memorial or "The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe." This large open area is very stark and unfortunately the underground museum is closed on Monday. 

By now, our feet were complaining so we catch a taxi down to Gendarmenmarkt, a large plaza with the Deutscher Dom/Neue Kirche on the South side and the Französische Friedrichstadtkirche on the North side.  In the middle, on the west side, stands the Konzerthaus Berlin.  This is just a photo stop and we again catch a taxi to the Pergamon Museum Berlin, one of the museums on Museum Island. The taxi drops us as close as he can...there is a tremendous amount of restoration going on in Berlin right now.

We buy tickets to the Pergamon at a outside kiosk on the Island. We want to see the permanent exhibits of antiquities excavated in Turkey. The displays include the Pergamon Altar, the Market Gate of Miletus (background picture) and the Ishtar Gate. All of these are monumental in size. In addition, there are numerous displays on three floors covering smaller items. Fortunately, Carolyn's cane gets us courtesy access to a guarded service elevator as the stairs would have been difficult for both of us. We are not much on museums, but this one is most interesting.

On leaving the Pergamon Museum, we walk along the river to a bus stop by the Berlin Dom (Cathedral) on Unter den Linden getting a good view of the famous radio tower built by the Communists in East Berlin and the Berlin Dom. After waiting about 15 minutes, we catch a west bound bus and ride it through the Tiergarten to its end at the Zoo.

From here we walk into the S Bahn station and board a train back to Potsdam. It is late afternoon and the cars are crowded but not packed. We didn't see all that was on Carolyn's list, but have had an interesting day leaving things for a return trip to Berlin some day...maybe.

After cocktails, we drive into downtown Potsdam and have dinner at a little Italian restaurant. Again, no English with the menu or vorspeisen in German. We share an over priced pizza-like dish and some wine, walk around some and head back to our hotel ready for bed.

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