Please sign in to post.

Currywurst, gulasch, palaces,trains and yabgt (yet another beautiful German town)

Thought it was time to actually post my trip report from our 25 day trip to Germany, Czechia and Austria. This was my first trip back to Europe in thirty years, as it also was for my wife, so we were both excited about it. We flew Norwegian to Berlin, with a changeover in Oslo. Our ticket prices were very good, about 550 roundtrip for each of us, as we were flying in late August, by which time Norwegian's prices were down from their summer highs. The flights were fine, only drawback was that we got into Berlin a little late, so weren't able to link up with my relative's granddaughter, but she texted me full directions to get to our accommodations via public transportation. My relative had reserved us a room at a Lutheran Womens retreat center that rents out rooms to the public, located in Zehlendorf, pretty close to the Ubahn station Krumme Lanke.
On our arrival evening I wandered around Zehlendorf a bit, admiring those beautiful villas. We didn't sleep well or at all that first night, with jet lag and too much excitement. Next morning, Monday August 26, we took the train to Dresden, and that day wandered around the old town, not going to any museums but just checking out the restored Altstadt, the Churches, Bruhls Terrace etc. That evening we had our first of many humble sausage meals, with my wife getting her first Currywurst with French fries and myself a standard Bratwurst, at Curry 24. I noticed that much of the clientele seemed to be middle aged working class type guys, including the four men at our outdoor table.
After dinner we wanted to take the tram to the Loschwitz area, but first wandered down the Wilsdrufferstrasse where we encountered what I believe was the weekly protest by German nationalist/right wing protestors at the Altmarkt square, with police off to the side and counterprotesters on another side. I must say things were pretty tame, and my wife really enjoyed the scene, because it represented something non-touristy, local people of whatever political persuasion out and about. I saw one of our table mates at the rally, and I wonder how many of our fellow sausage stand enthusiasts were at the rally, as it did seem that most of the people there had a definite working class ambience to them, at least from what a transient American tourist could tell. It was also election day in Saxony on the next Sunday and I was looking around for campaign signs and there were plenty of them, from the Christian Democrats, to the Alliance for Germany, to the Greens, to the Social Democrats to the Free Democrats.
Our tram ride (I believe it was the number 12) took us to Schillerplatz in the Blasewitz/Loschwitz area east of the Altstadt. I wandered around the Dresden Waldpark because I love checking out urban parks, and this was a great one for forest lovers. Loschwitzerstrasse is a beautiful street with its prewar villas and quiet ambiance.
Our hotel was the Holiday Inn am Zwinger, right near the Zwinger complex, which I would recommend in terms of its mix of price/location/comfort. It was very quiet both nights.
Our second day in Dresden we went to Schloss Pillnitz, the Saxon kings summer getaway which is both a palace complex with attached gardens. Pretty easy to get to with a tram to a bus connection, and an interesting drive on the bus along the north side of the Elbe going out of Dresden. Very few tourists there, mostly Germans. On the way back we took the Dresden Schwebebahn (suspension railway) which offered a great view of the city at the top. Back in Loschwitz we had a nice chat with a fellow Labradoodle owner. Its amazing how dog ownership opens up a whole new social world. For dinner that night we had a nice, inexpensive casual meal at a cafeteria that was part of a meat market located on the bottom floor of a shopping mall near the altstadt. I had the first of many gulasches, as I embarked on my quest to find central Europe's best one.

Posted by
403 posts

Wednesday August 28 brought us to Prague. I really enjoyed to train ride into Czechia, and Bad Schandau looks like a great place to visit in the future. On the train ride we met a nice German couple who were vacationing in Dresden and were doing a day trip to Prague. The other passenger we met was a fascinating Czech man who was actually Sudeten German on his dad's side, Czech on his mothers. He said his dad basically hid and kept a low profile in the years right after the war during the expulsions of the Sudeten Germans. He himself was a successful business man who seemed to have a complicated life of different business and houses in Europe. Love those kinds of random yet interesting talks.
We stayed at the Residence Thunovska, where we had a nice one bedroom studio type apartment at the foot of the Prague Castle complex. Basically if you take the stairs down from the complex you end up on Thunovska street where we stayed, for a pretty good price of about 90 dollars a night. Fun fact: the rental office (there were several apartment units) shared space with the honorary consul of San Marino, the little country surrounded by Italy, so there was one of those nifty little diplomatic signs out front. That night I wandered around the Mala Strana area.
The next day we had our tour of Prague with Living Prague tours by Jason, a british expat who does a great job. We took his old town and Jewish quarter tour, and he does a nice job pointing out different historical details and has nice stories about different churches, synagogues and buildings around the Jewish quarter and the Old Town square area. I think both my wife and I enjoyed it, only drawback was Pragues warm weather that week. It was in the high 80's throughout our four days there.
Highlight of the next day was the museum of communist museum. My wife really enjoyed it because it focuses on the lives of everyday people with the right mix of political commentary. I enjoyed it as well, but would have loved to see more political memorabilia from the crucial 1946 elections. Also interesting was the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans was not glossed over either, but prominently mentioned as another human tragedy from that era (though in fairness, this took place when the Communists were still ruling with non-communist parties in a coalition government). One more political thing. We wandered by the German embassy in Mala Strana and they were having commemorations that week of the 30 year anniversary of when east Germans flooded into the embassy ground to get West German travel documents which were then approved by the still communist Czech government.
What can I say about Prague itself? It is really beautiful, with its architecture, the bridges, the Churches, etc. Yes, it was touristy and yes there is a certain bridge that shall remain nameless that is almost a parody of overtouristification, but still, it is immensely gorgeous.
Our last day in Prague was spent a little off the beaten path, with a nice walk in the Bubenec/ Stromovka park area, with not a tourist in sight as we wandered around a beautiful art nouveau neighborhood and into Stromovka park which offers up a great view just after you pass the Russian embassy looking down onto the park itself. We followed Rick's advice and finished our day at the Vysehrad fortress complex. This was very enjoyable, not too crowded, not overtouristed, and of course, this being Prague, incredible views.
Next post, what have we been eating so far, and back to Germany.

Posted by
2703 posts

Your trip report was a wonderful read during my breakfast in Erfurt this morning. I particularly enjoyed the reference to the West German Embassy in Prague. I've watched at least 50 times the 1989 video of West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher announcing that the East German refugees had received permission to go to the West. It still brings tears to my eyes to see the reaction of his audience. I was in Leipzig a few days ago for the 30th anniversary of the 70,000-strong Oct 9 Monday Demonstration. I greatly enjoyed the prayers for peace service at Nikolaikirche.

Posted by
2010 posts

How fun to read your report, as I've just left Prague a couple of days ago and was in Dresden (and Pillnitz) not long before that. By the time I got to Prague, I was wearing every layer I'd brought. I also took 2 walking tours with Jason and enjoyed seeing so many things that I hadn't known or noticed on my first trip to Prague.

Thanks for the memories!

Posted by
681 posts

Thanks for the beginning, hopefully, of your trip report. It has been some years since I have been to Prague and it was gorgeous and touristy back then.

Posted by
403 posts

In Prague we ate a few times at Ceska Kuchyna, a very inexpensive cafeteria style restaurant, and I got the Czech style gulash with bread dumplings twice and the borscht also. It was interesting in that it was very busy, but mostly with Czechs and perhaps other eastern Europeans, even though it was between Old Town square and Wenceslas square, so hardly off the beaten path. We also cooked food in our apartment, egg dishes and sandwiches, plus fresh fruit.
We took the German DB bus to Nurnberg from Prague, with to only mishap being that I led us off our tram at the Masaryk station by accident so we had to hurriedly walk to the main Hlavni Nadrazi, and then we had to figure out where to get our bus. We still had about 10 minutes to spare. The bus ride was fine and on time. We spent the afternoon wandering around Nurnberg's old town, a city that I spend parts of 2 summers in when I was 12 and 15, staying with a family that owned a restraurant just up from the Schoene Brunnen.
The altstadt seemed smaller than I remember it, but basically pretty familiar. The restaurant was sold years ago and a new one is there now, and the pedestrian shopping zone was quieter than I remember it, but it was a Sunday afternoon. We stayed at the Hotel Fackelmann, just west of the main train station, as we got a very good deal for one night, found through booking.
On Monday we were going to end up at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, but had no deadline to get there, so bought the Bayernticket for two and went to Regensburg by train to spend the heart of the day there. I liked Regensburg, but not as much as some of the other places we would see on the rest of the trip. I did like the fact that while it had plenty of tourists, it didn't seem to be overwhelmed by them. We also enjoyed to park/bike path area behind the Taxis and Thurn palace. I figured that getting our Munich connection to GPA at 530 would mean we would meet up with lots of commuters, but felt the extra time in Regensburg was worth it.
Our regional express from Munich was crowded, standing room only for awhile. IIRC once I had to get off the train to let people out, then hop back on. But we managed and were met at GPA bahnhof by Jim, our gracious American host for our five night stay in Garmisch. Jim, a widower who married a local German woman years ago
rents out the top two floors of his house, right along the Partnach river in a beautiful setting. He charges around 50 euros a night, and our upstairs unit was great, though the shower does require a little bit of flexibility. We found his listing on the GPA tourism website, Ferienwohnung Alina.
During our four full days in the area we visited the Partnachklamm, Linderhof, Innsbruck and the Eibsee just below the Zugspitze, and also spent time in both Garmisch and Partenkirchen. I really enjoyed Linderhof and Partenkirchen, which seems much more laid back than Garmisch, and I love how the Partenkirchen juts up right against forested hills. The first two days we had nice weather, for Partnachklamm and Eibsee, the last two days was much colder and overcast, for Innsbruck and Linderhof. I enjoyed Innsbruck both for having a beautiful altstadt, but just the mountainous surroundings were so amazing for such a big town/small city
Unfortunately the Grotto at Linderhof was closed, but its still a nice little jewel in a beautiful setting. Eibsee makes for a nice, brisk walk, which took us a bit under three hours. My wife and I both really enjoyed this part of our trip.
For food during this segment of the trip we went to the local Norma grocery store, and I tried some canned gulasch soup, plus a form of German canned beef stew, both excellent, For breakfasts we were often getting ham or salami plus sliced cheese and rolls, plus fruit, some of which worked for quick lunches.
Saturday Sept 7 we left GPA for Salzburg and then onto Munich to see that city and a family friend, which will be in my next report.

Posted by
2703 posts

So... I sense you like gulasch. I'm looking forward to hearing about Salzburg and Munich.

Posted by
2950 posts

Can’t wait to read all of your reports and talk to you about some observations at a future meeting. BTW I like goulash too but without the big bread or flour dumplings. In Berlin a family friend fixed venison goulash and spätzle for us 2 weeks ago and it was delicious! It always helps when the temperatures are cool, drizzly and fall like too.

Posted by
403 posts

We made it from GPA to Salzburg with no problems, transfer in Munich, with a Bayernticket. We got into Salzburg by early afternoon which was good because we were due back in Munich on the next day by noon as we were meeting friends and that day was the best day to see them On the way,a lot of people dressed in traditional Bavarian garb got off in Rosenheim, no doubt going to the Fallfest there . In Salzburg we saw the main sites and made sure to see some of the Sound of Music locations that were right in Salzburg. Its interesting that so many of them were basically in that one small part of the movie where a whole bunch of small fragmentary scenes of Salzburg are shown.

Personal digression about SOM. I like the film, but a few things irritate me. 1) Maria's maiden name is never mentioned, Kutschera, and since that is the name of my aunts family I wish it were. 2) Maria and the Capitan were married in the 1920's not right around 1938 as portrayed in the movie. 3) They did not flee in dramatic fashion (toward Bavaria no less, not a good move logistically if one wanted to get away from Nazi Germany) but in real life took a train, with first stop in Mussolinis Italy no less.

I enjoyed the Salzburg Cathedral, as seeing such a beautiful building in conjunction with its surroundings is a wonderful combination. We took the stairs to get to the Monchberg, and enjoyed the views up there, walking just below the fortress complex. We also enjoyed the views to the Southeast, which appear as one walks toward the Nonnberg abbey. In a way they were my favorite view in that one sees those wonderful soft green rolling hills stretching away from the city. Not as dramatic as the view down into the city itself, but special in its own way.
From that vantage point we heard some marching and drums rolling and my first thought was of a political demonstation of some sort, what with Austria's national elections just a few weeks away, but actually they were soccer fans marching along toward the altstadt with there uniforms on. Not sure what team it was for but interesting to see nonetheless, as we were looking down on them from our perch above.
We stayed at the hotel mercure to the east of the Mirabel Gardens, and we got a nice price there, around 100 euros for the night, which was pretty good for Salzburg. It was also nicely located as it was near the Linzergasse area which we visited at the end of our sightseeing for the day.

The Salzburg bahnhof was so different from what I remember from 30 years ago, all modern, sleek and shiny.

We got into Munich the next day by 12 and were met by a family friend and her husband. She had spent a summer with my family 35 year ago while I was in Nuremberg. She was a cousin of that family, and had stayed in touch with my mom all these years, so it was great to get in touch with her in person. As it was raining we drove around Munich, visited a near totally deserted Englischer Garten, and had a nice Bavarian style meal near the Odeonsplatz. We really had a nice time with them, and it was nice to spend time with people socially instead of just being a tourist the whole time. In a perfect world it wouldn't have been raining steady that whole day, but it worked out well enough.
That evening we checked into our Motel One at the Sendlinger Tor, a choice we made based partially on what some posters on the forum had said about it, and it was great for our three nights there. We enjoyed watching one nfl game on one of the German sports networks that evening. It was a live US broadcast, with the German commentators voicing over the US sound, and it was hilarious listening to it, as some words such as tackle, touchdown, first down, sack etc were directly grafted on to the German discussion. My wife got a kick out of it as well, even without speaking German, just to hear what they were saying.
Next up, more Munich and on to Bamberg and Erfurt.

Posted by
403 posts

On our first full day in Munich we stocked up on groceries for our breakfasts and lunches at the near by Rewe store, located near the Assam church. The highlight of this day was visiting the Residenz, and I really enjoyed the Hall of Antiquities. It wasn't that crowded considering that the Residenz is one of Munich's top sites, and this was yet another example for me of how the greatly feared overcrowded tourist site phenomena generally didn't happen for us on the trip, with a few obvious exceptions like Prague.
In the afternoon we met up with our friend at the Café Tambosi near the Hofgarten, and her son was able to join us as well, and it was nice once again to see her. She dropped us off in the Bogenhaus area that I had wanted to see, and we enjoyed walking around the area, the Mohlstrasse, Ismanigerstrasse, and Maria Theresiastrasse especially. I also liked the park area between the Maria Theresiastrasse and the Isar river to the north of the Friedensengel. A very elegant area with no signs of tourism, just local people out and about.
The next day, our last one in Munich, we visited the Transportation museum, which we enjoyed. Not crowded at all, lots of interesting exhibits, streetcars, train cars, old cars. A worthwhile "secondary site". Continuing our theme of Wittelsbach family residences, we visited the Nymphenburg palace that afternoon, and I liked that fact that it wasn't overwhelming, but still interesting to see, and yet again not too crowded.
That evening I wandered around the Schwabing area, in search of beautiful architecture, and it was interesting to see some beautiful buildings sandwiched with other more modern, less attractive ones.
The next morning was our first trip on a German IC train, to Erfurt with a six hour break in Bamberg. I enjoyed Bamberg, with its architecture, bridges, churches, etc. We visited the city Residenz, and again, while its ranked as one of Bamberg's top sites, there were only about 8 other people on our guided tour. It was in German, and I could follow along fairly well, and there were English description cards for my wife to read for each room. There was restoration work going on in one of the halls, and it was interesting to see the restorers at work during our tour.

I also liked how one could see the different time periods of Bambergs architecture, in that in the outer part of town, going back toward the train station there are nice Grunderzeit buildings (from the 1870's to 1914), a nice contrast to the medieval core. On another forum a traveler did a trip report about her stay in Bamberg as a home base, and I could see how this would work, with so many nice nearby places to visit. It was definitely touristy, but again to my mind it didn't really detract from the visit.
next up, on to Thuringia

Posted by
645 posts

Thanks for posting your trip report. I enjoyed reading it and made some notes for a future trip.

Posted by
1808 posts

Very nice trip report Rob! Thanks for letting me know you had posted it. Sounds like you and Marcy had a great time!!

Posted by
403 posts

It was amazing for me to get from Bamberg to Erfurt in about 50 minutes, but such is the magic of the German IC trains. The ride through northern Franconia into southern Thuringia was scenic, but then less so in central Thurinigia, more fields and power windmills then forests like earlier. In Erfurt we stayed in a great accommodation, a two bedroom apartment for 70 euros a night that we found on the Erfurt city website. It was located about 1.5 miles or so from the trains station to the west and a little south, in the so called Dichterviertel, (poets quarter), maybe called that because the streets in the neighborhood were named after poets. It is a beautiful district with nice well kept villas and big houses, a nice home base area, and pretty near a grocery store where we loaded up on essentials for our three nights there.

We spent one full day on Erfurt sightseeing, and hit the usual spots, the Domplatz, the Altstadt, Luthers residence, Luthers statue, the Merchants bridge etc. There are so many wonderful old buildings in really nice shape, and what I liked was seeing them not in a ultra touristy spot like Rothenburg, or a quaint cute little town, but in a small sized German city, so a somewhat different setting. We both really enjoyed the DDR memorial museum on Andreasstrasse just off the Domplatz. Its housed in a former prison, one used by past governments, including the communists. It has intact existing cells and historical displays and artifacts about communist era repression and also about general life back then.

While visiting a German man noticed me giving English translations of some displays to my wife and we got to talking. Turns out he was originally from around Nordhausen in northern Thuringia. He applied to leave the DDR several times as a young man in the 1970's, always getting rejected,was called in for an interrogation one time, but not arrested, and then given 24 hours to leave the country, so made it too the west. This was after protesting his situation with a sandwich board. He got pretty lucky in that he was allowed to leave instead of getting arrested. He said the museum gave a good portrayal of things, though added that life wasn't so bad in the DDR if one kept a low political profile and kept out of trouble. He was in Erfurt for a class reunion.

We enjoyed the Domplatz area and also walked up unto the fortress walls looking over the city. Lunch was a Thuringer rostbratwurst, and dinner was gulasch at home.

The next day we bought a Thuringerkarte for a day trip to Weimar and then Gotha. In Weimar I was especially interested in seeing the theater were the German constituent assembly (constitutional convention in US terms) met in 1919. Across the square was a small museum dedicated to the political history of the Weimar Republic of 1919 to 1933. The constitution of 1919 that came out of the assembly was so avantguard for the times, and such a change from monarchical Germany, what with a directly elected President, male and female suffrage, proportional representation for all parliaments (meaning each party gets a roughly proportional share of total seats based on their total votes won in an election), state and national level initiative and referenda (though with tonnes of hurdles to substantially weaken the process). The museum had lots of political paraphernalia from those hectic and historic times. We also wandered through Weimar and I enjoyed the Park an der Ilm, knowing that literary giants like Goethe and Schiller were there so many years ago.

Posted by
403 posts

From Weimar we took the train to Gotha, which is on the other side of Erfurt, but still nearby. The Gotha train station stood out to me as the most derelict train station we saw in Germany, such a contrast to other nicely renovated stations like Erfurt, and what we soon see, Leipzig, and also Salzburg for that matter. We wandered along the main street from the station, and it was very quiet, so different from livelier places like Erfurt or Weimar or Bamberg. We ended up in the castle grounds and walked down a beautiful street from there into the altstadt. On the way we did pass by the museum of insurance history and I was able to restrain myself from visiting it (all kidding aside it probably is pretty interesting just by being so unique). We mostly just wandered around the altstadt, and it did make for a nice quick outing, especially being so close to Erfurt.

The next day, Saturday Sept 14 we set out for Berlin, with a six hours stop over in Leipzig. The Leipzig train station is great, an old historic building conveniently located with lots of modern eateries and conveniences, two luggage storage areas, atms, what more can a traveler ask for.
We wandered around the Leipzig altstadt, the St Thomas church were Bach was choir director, and the DDR museum of Leipzig, not the stasi museum but the Zeitgeschichliches forum. My wife really enjoyed these historical museums because they have so many fairly modern yet historical artifacts. Historically I was interested in Leipzig both as the epicenter of the 1989 protests, and also the fact that American troops conquered Leipzig in the last week or so of WW2 in Europe, but alas had to evacuate per agreement with the Soviets as of July 1 1945. Also the fact that Karl Goerdeler, who would have become Gemany's wartime chancellor had the coup attempt against Hitler in 1944 succeeded, was mayor in prewar times (more on him in my Berlin chapter.).

We noticed a lot of Bayern Munich soccer fans wandering around, and sure enough they were in town for the RB Leipzig vs Bayern Munich match that evening, the top Bundesliga clash of the weekend, All the fans we saw were well behaved, although I suspect a fair amount of drinking was going on. We finished our Leipzig day with a walk through the Waldstrasseviertel, a neighborhood with many historic, renovated Grunderzeit buildings (from 1870s' to world war one era) beween Waldstrasse and the Leipzig Zoo park area. While it was a nice area to see, maybe because we had already seen so many beautiful buildings in the last few weeks, it wasn't that memorable for me, but still a nice way to finish our afternoon. As it was somewhat on the way to Red Bull stadium where the game was to be played there were some fans milling around, and I even gave directions to a couple of them. As we walked back to the station we saw more and more fans, coming from there, including more RB Leipzig fans probably coming from nearby areas as well.

Historic side note digression. While some of us from Northern California associate Oct 17, 1989 with the Loma Prieta earthquake, I wonder if I'm one of the few people out there who that afternoon before the earthquake was eager to find out if East Germany's communist dictator Erich Honecker was going to be removed that evening (afternoon our time) in the politburo meeting to be held that day. Sure enough he was, probably being forced to resign just about the same time as the earthquake or maybe a few hours before. This ties in with Leipzig as it was the protests there that would ignite protests throughout the country that brought about Honeckers removal, the first step toward the end of the DDR.

Next up, on to Berlin

Posted by
2703 posts

It was worth the wait. I enjoyed reading about your time in Erfurt, Weimar, and Leipzig. As you know, I was in Erfurt and Leipzig this month. I'm playing around with a Harz Mountains - Weimar - Saxon Switzerland itinerary for a trip to be taken in the next few years.

Posted by
2703 posts

Oh yeah... I'm also glad that gulasch made another appearance!

Posted by
11 posts

Thank for your reports on the trip and for your sharing with us last Saturday at the meeting.
I noticed in your original post that you initially stayed in Berlin in the Zehlendorf area. Our friends, whom we stayed with in Zehlendorf in early October, live about two blocks from the Krumme Lanke Ubahn stop. Our trip ended up following you around Germany about two weeks later.
Looking forward to your next installment of your trip report.

Posted by
403 posts

So on Saturday afternoon, September 14, we took the IC train from Leipzig to Berlin and were met by my relative who lives in Berlin. His great grandfather and my great great grandfather were brothers, from the area around Oldenburg, where he grew up. I had spent time with him in 1987 in West Berlin, and even spent a day wandering around East Berlin.
He took us to our Lutheran Womens retreat center, and it was nice in that we had already spent our first night in Europe there so knew what to expect.
The next day he met us in the morning and drove us to Potsdam where he had arranged tickets for the hop on hop off bus tour and we enjoyed that, driving through much of historic Potsdam, though a marathon meant a few delays. We got off the bus at the New Palace and walked along the palace grounds to Sans Souci. We didn't go in to it because we had somewhat of a time crunch, but it was still interesting to see the grounds. We took the S bahn back to Zehlendorf and our relative met us again, and this time we went out onto Wannsee with a friend of his on the friends sail boat. He used the boats motor, not the sail, but we went out onto the lake and had a nice time. The weather was nice, wind not too bad, and it was interesting to see so much of the Wannsee by boat. We ended up going around the Pfaueninsel and had a nice snack on the boat, as my relative brought some Plum cake, whipped cream, light wine, and for his friend who was allergic a whole parade of different snacks for him. Both of them have boats and go out onto the Wannsee fairly often, especially when its nice weather, and they mentioned that this was probably one of the last weekend days of the year when there was going to be nice lake weather.
The following day was our main day for seeing Berlin's top sites. We took the Ubahn to Augsburger stop, staying on the U3 line, wandered around the Ku-dam area a bit and then took the bus from the memorial Church, through the tiergarden to the Reichstag. The Reichstag dome was closed that day for viewing so we didn't sign up for a visit (not sure if we could have got in anyway on the same day anyway?), but it was still fascinating to see the Reichstag now with no wall in sight. I remember from my 1987 visit how the wall ripped through the whole area, and it was refreshing to see it gone and the Reichstag/Brandenburg gate area now freed of it.
We walked along Unter den Linden past Pariser Platz and the new Hotel Adlon. While its not the same building of course, I was interested to see the new US embassy, in the same spot as the pre-war one, and enjoyed seeing it, having read about the different US ambassadors like Gerard (World War one era), Sackett (end of Weimar Republic) and Dodd (middle 30's), and also having read the riveting Berlin Embassy by William Russell.

We visited the German History Museum which I highly recommend. A lot to see there. We did a rushed version, and I can imagine that if we had more time in Berlin I would have wanted to devote most of a day to it, but I'm still glad we saw it. Love the maps, banners, political posters, historic portraits etc.

We ended up at the Alexander platz and took the Ubahn back to Zehlendorf. That evening my relative had arranged for family friends of his to join us for dinner at his house, and since both were fluent in English that worked great for my wife. It was nice to talk to more local people and hear about their lives. Our trip was winding down, with just one more full day in Berlin, and then a long day home after that.

Posted by
2950 posts

Great reports Rob. We were actually following you around a couple weeks later. We stayed with family friends in Stieglitz-Zehlendorf near the Kumme Lanke U-bahn. We spent a full day in Potsdam this time along the Havel River. We’ve been on the Wannsee before but not on a private boat. Lots of memories and lots of similarities.

Dave spent an afternoon at the Allied Museum and we spent another evening with different friends who live near Templehof where many of the street names reflect its past.

We were so happy to have our visit correspond to the 30th anniversary of the reunification. Can’t wait to hear more details from your trip.

Posted by
403 posts

On our last full day of the trip, my relative took us to the Palace of Tears museum at the Friedrichstrasse station. The museum has lots of DDR and cold war Berlin history, with lots about Berliners experiences and the logistics of crossing over the divided city. One section reminded me of my crossing into east Berlin in 1987. After that we went to the Berlin Wall memorial on Bernauerstrasse which has the last big retained section of the wall in memorial. From there we were dropped off at the Kufurstendam and my wife and I spent the afternoon walking around and ended up at Charlottenburg palace, which represented our last site for Berlin. My wife had her last currywurst, and I had my usual bratwurst.
That evening we had a final meal at a Chinese restaurant in Steglitz with my relative's wife and two friends, the man we went on the boat with, and his English speaking wife. On the way to dinner I mentioned that we walked along the Goerdelerring in Leipzig, and my relatives wife said she knew his daughter who had retired in Berlin. She mentioned that the daughter, 15 years of age in 1944, had a frightening and rough last months of the war, as she was imprisoned along with the rest of Goerdelers family, ending up in northern Italy with other prominent prisoners at the end of the war. After the war she married an optometrist in Heidelberg.
This was one of the highlights of my trip, as I've often thought about Karl Goerdeler. Had the assassination attempt against Hitler in July 1944 been successful, and the ensuing coup also successful (it would have had a much, much greater chance of success had Hitler been killed) Goerdeler was slated to take over as the new German chancellor. We will never know if such a government would have been able to reach a quick peace with the allies, but ending the war almost a year earlier, with so much less destruction (look at allied bombing figures for the last months of 1944 and into 1945), ending Nazi atrocities, and saving the bulk of Eastern Europe from a Soviet occupation, all were possibilities in a new political world had Goerdeler and the other resisters taken over.

We had a nice meal at the restaurant, which was quite fancy. Most of us ordered Gung Pao chicken, aka Kung Pao chicken in the United States, and it was delicious.
On our flight home the next day, everything went fairly smooth, and we had a six hour layover in Stockholm, which we put to good use, taking the express bus into town and visiting the Stockholm city hall. Our flight was a little late getting home, but we were still pleased with Norwegian Air, when factoring in the price.
All in all, it was an enjoyable trip. Looking back I think we might have had a more memorable time with a little more variety, maybe including Vienna for instance, but I wanted to avoid too much travelling and focus more on the smaller cities. I believe we did really well avoiding the overcrowded, overtouristed areas in general. Sure we ran into crowds at certain places, but rarely, outside of Prague did crowds cause any complications. So many places, like Schloss Pilnitz in Dresden, the Residenz in Bamberg, all of Erfurt, Linderhof, Garmisch Partenkirchen, and even much of Prague outside of the Hradcany-Charles Bridge-Old Town Square adult Disneyland corridor were just fine. Some, like Pillnitz, the Bamberg Residenz, and Erfurt were really uncrowded. My favorite canned gulasch soup was Rewe brand, though I tried a few. Best Bratwurst probably in Regensburg, and our two fancy restaurant meals were both great, spending times with friends and family.

The next part of Europe for us might be Italy, Switzerland or some more parts of Germany like Heidelberg, the Baltic Coast or Bodensee area. Not sure when, but it was nice to get our first trip in the 21st century accomplished.

Posted by
2703 posts

A satisfying end to the saga, including a Gulasch reference. I very much enjoyed your trip report.