After arriving from Leipzig by a fast InterCity Express (ICE) train, our nephew picked us up at the Südkreuz train station near his southwest Berlin home in Zehlendorf. We stayed four nights and had a wonderful visit with him and his family while getting to see so much of Berlin and Potsdam with our own personal tour guide. We also had great weather for sightseeing – sunny and low 70’s.
On the first day, we visited Potsdam which borders Berlin on the west. We saw the Sanssouci Palace that was the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, and walked around its landscaped gardens where we noticed this gilded gazebo.
We explored the surrounding Sanssouci Park where there was also this New Palace. Later we went to Cecilienhof Palace northeast of Sanssouci that was the location of the Potsdam Conference in 1945 where the heads of the Soviet Union (Stalin), United Kingdom (Churchill), and United States (Truman) made important decisions affecting post-war Europe and Asia including partitioning of Germany and Berlin.
We enjoyed a nice dinner at a cafe on the Lake Wannsee near my nephew’s house. Its at the western-most part of Berlin before crossing the bridge to Potsdam. His teenage children attend the John F.Kennedy international bilingual school nearby since he’s American and his wife is German; they both speak their native language at home with them, which was interesting. We took the family out to dinner twice, and they made special German meals for us the other nights.
The second day we walked all around Berlin. We visited the Brandenburg Gate, which is an 18th-century triumphal arch that was a former city gate where the Berlin Wall had divided the city from 1961 to 1989 when it was opened and Germany was reunified. Also there are various monuments nearby like this equestrian statue of Frederick the Great, honoring King Frederick II of Prussia.
The third day we rode around Berlin some more and visited the Charlottenburg Palace and gardens, just west of the large Tiergarten park in center city not far from the Brandenburg Gate. There were other interesting sites like silver people that look like statues and come alive when you give them some money.
There is an interesting mix of old and new buildings throughout Berlin, which we saw on a boat cruise on the Spree River which goes through the city, looking at all the massive federal buildings, churches, and museums.
On our last day we went to the American Checkpoint Charlie on the former east-west border before the Berlin Wall came down. It’s now been 25 years since the reunification of Germany. Also we visited the Wall Museum next to the checkpoint with lots of information, pictures, and exhibits about the reality of that time.
The joys of travel … Our 7am flight from Berlin Tegl Airport to Austin via London Heathrow was grounded after we left the gate because it “lost control of steering”. First they went over to the maintenance facility to see if they could repair it, but that was not successful. So they unloaded all our luggage and took us back to the terminal by bus to rebook flights after going through customs and picking up our luggage.
Then we had to wait in line at British Airways for about 4 hours after the initial 2-hour grounding delay to see what we could arrange as alternate flights. Finally we managed to get re-routed from Berlin to Austin via Amsterdam and Atlanta on KLM/Delta so we thought at least we might get home late that same day.
We made the KLM connection in Amsterdam. However, in Atlanta after customs, baggage claim, security checkpoint, bag drop-off, train to another terminal, and long walk to a gate, we just missed our very tight connection to Austin. At least Delta gave us a Marriott hotel voucher, an overnight amenity kit with toothbrush/paste, razor/shave cream, deodorant, etc. and meal vouchers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
So finally we got home to Texas about mid-day the next day. It was a fantastic 3-week trip, although it was probably too long, even though we saw a lot.
Click on the following photo to view the Berlin photo gallery (about 148 photos) at my SmugMug photo web site.
The automatic slideshow displays each photo for 2 seconds with a 1 second fade transition. There are options for full-screen mode in the lower-right corner, and a pause button in the lower-left corner. There are also arrows on the left and right sides to move manually forward and backward through the photos.