Wednesday, June 27, 2012

TallyHo-Traveller’s Springtime Gallop Through Northern and Central Europe 2012 - Day Ten

It was now Tuesday morning the 10th, with only 2 full days left to tour the Berlin area – so much to potentially do and so little time. Nana, Kaitlin and Randy chose to get up early and eat over at the nearby Gesundbrunnen shopping center’s bakery. Chris and I breakfasted at the ample buffet provided at our hotel. Since we got up later and the dining area was very busy, we were soon seated at a table with a German family of 3. When the German father asked in halting English if he “could” have some milk for his coffee, his younger,middle school aged daughter teasingly admonished him in German for not saying “may”. All of us sitting at the table had a good chuckle over that (which served as a wonderful conversational ice breaker) and pleasant small talk was made until breakfast was finished and we went our separate ways.

Chris and I met up with the rest of our group and it was decided to take the train north of Berlin to the small town of Sachsenhausen, home to one of the WW II concentration camps. Arriving at the train stop in Sachsenhausen, we saw a large chimney to the west and headed in that direction. An easy 10 minute walk from the train stop, we first came upon a cemetery that contained several mass grave sites. The area was already feeling depressing and solemn. Pushing a button at one of the entrances to the camp unlocked the gate and a feeling of foreboding came over as we proceeded onto the camp grounds. There were disturbing reminders of the horrific acts committed there again and again with the written and video presentations posted around various locations of the camp. Clouds thickened and a light drizzle developed while on the camp grounds which only served to reinforce the gloomy atmosphere. The camp was a depressing and disturbing reminder of the atrocities committed against several nationalities during WW II. Upon leaving the grounds and walking back to the train stop, the clouds cleared and the sun peaked through, lifting our mood once again.

Back to Berlin via the S-bahn and U-Bahn we travelled to the southeast section of Berlin to view what is commonly called “the Castle Bridge”. The Oberbaumbrucke is a beautiful twin spired bridge created with several colors of brickwork. It was especially gorgeous when viewed by the River Spree waterfront. At our vantage point on the riverfront we could see the O2 stadium as well as several riverboats that serve as floating hotels/hostels as well as floating taxis from which to view the marvels of Berlin. Returning to the Holiday Inn Mitte Randy and Kaitlin opted to take the S1 train and watch Berlin’s own soccer team, Herta, play onscreen at the Celtic Cottage pub, while Nana and I took the elevator down to Movie, the hotel restaurant for an early dinner.

After Nana and I toasted the trip with Bailey’s doubles, we reviewed the limited evening menu of the restaurant. Having developed a bit of the sniffles earlier in the day I ordered the house potato soup, which was comfortingly warm but saltier than expected. Nana, on the other hand, ordered the most ample selection on the limited menu – the cold plate! This selection was a HUGE plate of smoked salmon, meats, cheese, crudités and a side of cold schnitzel. Each portion was so large that it took the both of us just to finish the schnitzel. The head waiter was very kind and set the remainder of the plate on a tray so we could take it back to the room for Chris to enjoy. After such a filling meal, an early evening was in order to combat the head congestion and throat tickles that were beginning in earnest. (Oh, in case you were wondering, Herta lost the game by unintentionally shooting a ball into their own goal…OOPS!)

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