Year: 2018

One more dash around Berlin

How quickly it rushes by, before you know it your time is almost up in Berlin! We’re re-covering a bit of territory today, and hoping to just wander a bit. First call is coffee and breakfast, then by U-Bahn to our first drop, Topographie des Terrors, which tells the story, in all its chilling detail, of the rise of the Nazi Party. Housed on the block where Nazi Germany’s most feared instituions – the security services, the Gestapo and the SS once stood, it is a sobering reminder of what can happen when democracy does astray. The remains of the former torture cells are used to mount an exhibition chronicling Nazi war crimes, especially against the Jews. Somber stuff, the whole place is jam packed with information, quite overwhelming in its detail. Pretty essential viewing! Keeping the theme going, we traveled to the mainly Jewish centre, formerly Spandauer Vorstadt,  just north of centre. Walking the streets we passed the Grosse Hamburger Memorial to concentration victims, right outside the rusty gates to the old Jewish Cemetery, …

Potsdam

Time for a small detour out of Berlin today, some 30kms away to Potsdam, summer vacation jaunt for the Royals of days gone by. But first one must fuel the fire, so another cafe for breakfast, and a ripper at that. We are quickly discovering Berlin’s love for coffee, and have found another beauty just up the road from home. Plus, parked out the front has to be the crappiest car in Germany. It fair dinkum looks like its just been pulled from the river, covered in mold, grit and grime. Remarkably, it still drives, evidently! We didn’t witness this miracle, but the staff assured me it does in fact start! There’s an article about it on the counter inside, but our waitress was Dutch and couldn’t read it, or explain this wonder of modern mechanics! Anyway, breakfast was fabulous, so much so the wasps attacked in number. Germany is in the grip of drought and wasps are in plague proportions, dive bombing anything sweet. Evidently they dont like croissants, which is reassuring! Fueled, we …

Berlin, time to get arty!

A great sleep in was rewarded with a run! Yeah I know, go figure! After 6km’s huffing and puffing around the canal next to us we finally quit and had breakfast at a great little cafe in the posh part of Kreuzberg. Coffee and healthy stuff like muesli…and croissants. We are quickly discovering Berlin has caught the coffee bug. Today is planned around a bit of culture, mainly on Museum Island, called as such because most of the significant museums in Berlin are on an Island on the river Spree. Island is probably a bit of a stretch, as you wouldn’t know it as you arrive over a bridge, its just another block in town which happens to have a bit of water around it! We did the abridged version yesterday, today we attack!! The main museums of interest are the Neues (new) and Pergamon, which both specialise in antiquities. The queue to the Neue was shorter, so we joined that and shuffled to the ticket booth, bought a museum island pass, and walked straight …

Berlin Day 2 Fat Tire City Bike Tour

Well rested after another great nights sleep, we headed into town via coffee & breakfast, jumping off the train at Alexanderplatz and finding Fat Tires office almost straight away. We have used them before in Paris, bike tours being a great way to see the sights and gain orientation of the city, all whilst learning a bit of history along the way. Our tour goes for about five hours, covering off most of the important landmarks and sites of historical significance. We meet our tour guide dude Randall, who hails from Brisbane, get kitted up, and away we go. Most of the ride covers the old Eastern side of Berlin, which seems to have more interest, starting with a great example of how not to marry up buildings which survived the bombings of WW2…soviet style styling!! Down to the Bebelplatz, site of the Nazi book-burning madness of 1933… Through Potsdamer Platz, And on to probably the most significant site of the Cold War, Checkpoint Charlie. Even though the checkpoint is only a replica, the real …

Berlin day One

After a 12 hour sleep, I reckon we might actually be back on track, and what better way to kick start the day than with coffee? We wandered around Hamburg looking for something open, checking out the graffiti as we went, which is plentiful, until we found a small cafe which ticked the boxes. Then back to our hotel to grab our bags for the train trip to Berlin. I mentioned earlier the hotels history as a water tower, and the interiors are impressive solid blocks of stone and brick, which were the foundations for the tower, and make a vivid first impression, and in our case a last one as we bid goodbye. We got to Hamburg Hbf early, and fortified ourselves with another coffee as we waited for our 12.50 train The train trip to Berlin was an uneventful two hours passing through flat lands made over mainly to crops and low pine plantations, interspersed with wind farms. A taxi from Berlin Hbf to our digs in Kreuzberg, and we were settled in …

Hamburg

And we’re off again, mixing this trip up between ‘us’ time in Hamburg & Berlin, frolicking in the French Alps with a bunch of Aussies, then to Paris again, moving to Brugge and finishing in Amsterdam. We are super excited about this trip, for which the planning started two years ago when we paid our deposit for the tour du Mont Blanc, having to get in that far in advance to secure our time slot of September 2018. It’s only a short walking season, so slots are precious, and popular. We can’t thank Maddy enough for having it on her ‘bucket list’, thus forcing our hand to join her on what promises to be an epic walk through, what appears to be, a spectacular countryside. We have heard nothing but glowing reviews on this walk, and we await the start with eager anticipation. The great thing about doing this walk is it enables you to add on travel before and/or after, which is what we have done, visiting Germany, Belgium and Amsterdam for the first …