Summing it up

Trip Start Aug 25, 2010
Trip End Sep 06, 2010

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Where I stayed
Berlin Hilton

Flag of Germany  , Berlin,
Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How do I sum up a week in Berlin and
Potsdam? I start at the beginning I guess. I flew over in BA First.
That was a most excellent experience. I highly recommend it. Thank
you to Gary, Rick and Matthew for the tricks and tips on how to do it
on the frugal method.
When I arrived in Berlin, I did not
have my usual jet lag. But there was still some that caught me by
the end of the day. I did what you should always do, take a shower,
change clothes, and then head out to walk the city. Never take a
nap, you will regret it later. I had no ambitious plans on what to
see. So I proceeded to go opposite the directions I intended and
made it an adventure. I saw a lot on that first day: Checkpoint
Charlie, the Wall, or what is left of it, Potdamer Platz, the edge of
Tiergarten, the Jewish Memorial, Branderburger Tor, Unter Den
Lindens, Alexander Platz, the Fernsehen Turm and everything in
between. Wow, that was a lot of walking. I am crazy but enjoyed my
time. By having no plan I was never lost or late. Let me tell you
that by the end of that day I was ready for bed. And sleep is what I
The next day called for a visit to
Schloss Charlottenberg. Schloss may translate more literally as
castle, but in town it is more palace. And that is when my
neighborhood exploring began. And it has not stopped yet.
The next day on a whim because Sans
Souci is closed on Mondays, I decided a visit to Potsdam and Sans
Souci was in order. I spent the whole day exploring the buildings in
the park and the park itself. Oh, and dodging the rain. I got caught
a couple times in the rain, I remember staring at the umbrella before
I left and thinking, nah, I won't need it. I may have needed it,
but I would not have wanted to use it. To much hassle. Besides then
and Sunday morning so far are the only times I would have needed it.
Otherwise it would be extra weight to carry.

On Sunday, I went to worship in the
Berliner Dom. That is I swam through the rain to the Dom for worship.
I braved the service and did not sit in the translated section. My
German while still improving has some gaps in it. The I explored the
neighborhoods around Alexander Platz and then some. East Berlin has
been upgraded and updated so that it is no longer the scary pictures
I learned in high school history books. It has been 20+ years since
the wall fell, so that is a good thing that there has been some
investment in making the area livable.

On Monday, I went shopping or at least
exploring the shopping area of Berlin Mitte. After seeing pretty
much no tourists the day before to masses of them, it was a shock to
see all those people walking around. And most of them not speaking
English. But it has been that way outside of the hotel the whole
time. So being overwhelmed and looking for more, I hit the side
streets and kept walking away. I got to see more of the area away
from the shopping district.. I am not really sure how I ended up back
where I needed to be. Almost out of nowhere did I end up back on the
main drag again. Amazing how it works when you have no plan. I got
some night photos in from the Fernsehen Turm. The city seemed small
when viewed in the dark from on high like that. It sure seemed bigger
when I was walking it.

On Tuesday, I decided that Potsdam was
worth another visit to see the city this time. So return I did. And
the weather finally was nice. The forecast was for a mere 65 but the
clouds broke and the sun was out. No jacket for me all day long. I
even got just a touch of pink on my face. But that was probably
windburn. The wind kept it cool. I might have gotten hot otherwise.
I was surprised but I was one of very few people not wearing a jacket
in Berlin and not many more were jacket free in Potsdam. In Potsdam,
there is that European vibe going on. There is a pedestrian only zone
with lots of shops and cafes. Berlin is missing that. I also
stumbled across the Neues Garten. I say stumbled because I was
navigating by blue signs and not the map. Turns out the park had
both of the items I was hunting. The historical Dutch settlement and
the Schloss Cecilihof. Cecilihof is where the Potsdam conference
took place back in 1945. It is built in the style of an English
manor house but is now operated as a boutique hotel. Also of serious
note in the park is a building called the marble palace. And that
might be understating it. Wow factor is very high with that
building. Well landscaped and tons, literally, of marble used in its
construction and decorating.

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