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Saturday, June 29, 2013


TUESDAY - Potsdam

Today, we wake to sunshine. It is a bit cool as we go to breakfast. We have really had good included breakfasts this trip, something we enjoy. Afterwards we do some historic site exploring.

First on our agenda is the site of the Potsdam Conference. The Potsdam Conference was held at Cecilienhof, the home of Crown Prince Wilhelm Hohenzollern, in Potsdam, occupied Germany, from July 17 to August 2, 1945. Cecilienhof is now a high end hotel and the conference site is preserved as it was in 1945.  We explore the exterior of the hotel. Outside the hotel, there is all sorts of graffiti from the time of the Russian occupation. It seems to have been left for its historical interest. Several gardeners are at work and the Spring flowers are beautiful.

Our tour tickets are for a the self-guided tour. The ticket includes a headset and audio descriptor so we each can listen as much or as little as we want. We see the offices assigned to Truman, Stalin and Churchill as well as the main conference room. The tour is really interesting and we spend well over an hour doing it. There are several tour groups, but with the head phone set ups, we are not bothered by them.

Head phones were used by the tour guides on the river cruise tours and we really liked them. The guide could speak in a low voice and we could hear on the head set even if we had fallen behind looking more closely at something. On a tour like this one, the self tour people can listen to their tape with the sets of detailed info on the site while the tour groups listen to their guide on their head sets and everyone can hear their tour information! We saw this everywhere in Europe and it is a definite improvement! 

Cecileinhof is in a huge park with trails going to several other points of interest. Unfortunately we just can't walk as much as we use to. We want to see the San Souci Park with its palaces this afternoon so we do a fast drive through the old Russian district, Alexandrowka, then head back to the hotel for a light lunch and some rest before we tackle the next park. 

Within walking distance of our hotel lies Sans Souci, one of the favorite homes of Frederick the Great and the site of his grave. It is set in a huge beautiful park area with several other palaces and points of interest. One could spend days walking the paths in this park. We walk around San Souci and enjoy the view from the hill on which the palace is built. Frederick and some other family members are buried on this hill in the shadow of the palace.

We for go a visit into the palace in favor of a walk through some of the park, past the windmill to visit the Orangery Palace to the west of Sans Souci. This was built to house San Souci's guests. It is a bit of a hike so we assume there was carriage service for the guests to go between the palaces. The Orangery is huge with an impressive entrance by a number of stairs leading up to a big reflecting pool in the front. The building is in the shape of a U with the ends being the actual guest accommodation with the center the orangery. There are other buildings to walk to, but we opt to go back to the car and drive around the park once again. The sun is setting and there are nice long shadows in the wooded areas.

We drive through the park and get pictures of the Neuw Palace, now part of the University of Potsdam, and a neat looking pavilion. Then we go back to the hotel.

We go to the bar for a drink and have a pleasant visit with one of the brothers who own the hotel. He is the bar tender tonight and speaks the most English of the family. This is a family run enterprise. The two brothers, their sister and spouses live and work in the hotel.

We decide to go back to the great little restaurant we went to the first night so the host calls and gets us 7PM reservations. Once again we have a great meal. These days in Potsdam have been a real treat. The hotel is wonderful and very reasonably priced. Potsdam is a wonderful city with lots of things to see, unfortunately the real world is calling us home so we pack up before heading to bed.

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