It was a wonderful morning. The view was wonderful, the food was great, and the company was "SUPER" ! (Spoken with a German Accent) Thanks to Stephanie for making the reservations ! I am so happy to have met these wonderful people in Koln. They are not just friends of Michel and Natascha's, they are my friends too !
After Breakfast we all went to the GDR Museum which portrays what life was like under communist rule. Many, many of the policies under Hitler were copied in East Germany (known as the German Democratic Republic). This was far from "democratic". People were spied on, restricted from movement, murdered for demonstrating, indoctrinated at an early age, and pretty much cut off from the rest of the world as all media at that time was controlled by the government. Even the music had to meet specific government guidelines ! No wonder people were risking their lives to escape ! I didn't take any pictures in the museum, but you can see some at the website.(see link above) I had no idea that people were going through this ! It made me mad because the people had just been "liberated" from Hitler's regime and the west allowed Russia to make part of Germany into a communist state. The people went from one dictator to another ! We learned a lot from walking around in this museum.
After the museum we strolled around and looked at more buildings and relaxed in one of the parks.
CAMERA FAIL !
ART MUSEUM AND GROUNDS
BERLIN CATHEDRAL FROM PARK
Getting around Berlin with public transport is easy--IF YOU UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE ! For us it is quite challenging. One reason that it is difficult is the language. German has many combinations of letters, and many letters and sounds, that just don't exist in English. Since we can't say the words, we make up a word that it looks like so we can refer to it when talking to each other. Another thing that gets in the way is that prior to traveling abroad, I've never used public transport in the U.S. (except briefly in Washington, DC where I took the metro) so I didn't know how it works. Things that people take for granted like how to read a bus schedule, what side of the platform to stand on, and how to figure out what direction the vehicle is traveling in, were all unknown to me. To complicate matters even more, there are subways, Trams, and buses ! It is complicated to figure out that you take the tram to the bus station, then get on the subway ! There are also things like where and how to buy tickets and what the tickets cover ! Just when we felt comfortable with the system in Koln, it was time to go to Belgium where things are a bit different. Now in Berlin, they are similar, but again, different. It seems that by the time we figure out the transport for one location, it's time to move to the next ! What will Prague, Paris, and Barcelona be like !
One thing I haven't mention up until now is that I bought new sneakers before this trip and have been trying to "break them in", but they have been causing blisters and it has been a hassle and painful. Today, with all the walking I was at my wits end. My feet hurt so bad that Rachael switched shoes with me (even though her foot is larger). We were then determined to find a place for me to buy some sneakers-- Off to the Berlin Mall !
After a few hours we found what I needed. But not without learning a few things. For instance there are grocery sections inside department stores here !
notice you see purses and clothes on one side of the aisle, and food on the other ! Dogs are also allowed in the stores and on the buses, trams, and subways !
After our shopping trip we met up with Stephanie and her girls again for dinner before the light show and film in front of the Reichstag Building. I couldn't take pictures during the show as they would not come out, but for a preview, see this link. Since the show didn't start till dusk, that meant about 10:30pm (22:30). Needless to say by the time we got back to the airbnb, we were exhausted !
Brandenburg Gate at night.