Final day in Berlin & Back to CW

Trip Start Apr 29, 2011
Trip End Sep 03, 2011

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Flag of Germany  , Mecklenburg-West Pomerania,
Friday, May 20, 2011

Despite the awfulness of Rosemary's night, we were off to the main train station (Hauptbahnhof) with our luggage by 10:00. The idea was to leave it with left luggage for the day. Our train back to Wismar was set to leave at 17:30 and Rosemary’s plane was somewhat later.

Our main ambition for the day was to visit the Reichstag, taking in the lower portions of Unter den Linden and the Brandenburg gate. Now in order to visit the Reichstag, you have to book at least 3 days in advance and we thought that the helpful girl in the tourist centre had succeeded in doing this but sadly, when we arrived for our 11:00 slot, our name was not on the printed list so that idea died a death. However, I include a blurry (last one, discovered the error here!) photo for completeness’ sake. The Reichstag is the home of the Bundestag ie parliament and it was after a fire in 1933, allegedly started by the communists (but probably the Nazis) that effectively catapulted Hitler to power and the rest, is history.

The Brandenburg Gate dates from 1791 and served as the royal entrance to the city (only the king could come through the wider central arches). As much of everywhere else in Germany, the Gate suffered war damage but well before WW2, Napoleon kidnapped Quadriga, the winged goddess of victory with her 4 horse chariot, and held her captive for 9 years until freed by a gallant Prussian general in 1815.

The area around the Gate and the Reichstag is where it all happens and it is embassy-land, for instance the US embassy is just to the left of the photo. There is also a smart hotel just up a ways and we were entertained by the arrival of a delegation from a country that we thought we knew, judging by the flag but sadly, looking at all our reference books we can’t find it – the flag had a star in the middle. Anyway, there was a great cuffuffle, about 10 police outriders and lots of black limos arrived. Great fun.

Having been entertained, we wandered up Unter den Linden then worked our way to the Potsdamer Platz as we wanted to see the famous Sony Centre (fancy building) and more importantly, for at least some of us, have lunch in another recommended location, an Italian restaurant called Vapiano. Here, they issue you with a plastic card, you select what you want and tell one of a team of a dozen frenetic servers, who prepare the food freshly and your card is debited when you collect it. Rosemary managed some pasta and Julie and I had pizzas, we were called to pick them up when a radio device, handed to us by the staff member who served us, started buzzing. Great fun, lovely food and again, not expensive (€27 for the three of us).

After lunch and with only a few hours left, we decided to stroll in the Tiergarten, a lovely wooded park in the heart of Berlin. There we came across a monument with Germany’s 3 most famous composers depicted, Mozart, Haydn & Beethoven. This has been lovingly restored and chillingly, you can still see shrapnel and bullet marks on the statues.

After a short rest (sleep) hereabouts, we then wandered back towards the Hauptbahnhof along the banks of the river Spree and sadly, we said our farewells to Rosemary and caught the train home to CW, arriving late at around 21:00. Rosemary got home safely, getting home around midnight or thereabouts. We’d had fun, it was educational, entertaining and inspiring – a good four days.
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