Sunday, October 12, 2008

Day 4 - Sightseeing in Berlin

Sunday morning already and time for breakfast at Uschi & Harald’s home. This breakfast was even more involved with the usual selections as well as boiled eggs in egg cups with little cup covers. One could get used to this more relaxed life – I don’t know how they do it as both Uschi and Harald still work though Gerhard is retired. I would have to get up at 5 a.m. to have this kind of leisurely breakfast at home.

Following breakfast, at 10:30 a.m. (90 minutes for breakfast), we got in their car and headed for Berlin. Accompanying us was their dog, Kira. First stop was the old area of Berlin where Gerhard had lived as a child. The apartment his mother and stepfather lived in during the war is still standing though it was heavily bombed during the war. We stopped at this apartment building first so Gerhard could show us the place where he returned to after the war. Their apartment was on the second floor of this building, in a corner position, with the balcony still standing.

Gerhard told me a very poignant story. When he was 7 his father, Otto Kolberg, died of a heart attack at the age of 33. When Gerhard was 15, his mother remarried to a family friend. When the war began, Gerhard was only 12 and all the children in the village were sent away to the forests of Poland with teachers to go into hiding – in order to protect the children as best as possible. Gerhard also was taken away and in the following 3 years he lived in a variety of camps with these students and their teachers and had no contact with his mother or stepfather. At the same time, his mother and stepfather also shared the apartment with her parents and Gerhard had no way to know what was happening back in Berlin. Three years later, at the age of 15, the war was over and the students were taken to the German/Polish border and left there and told to “go home”. He walked for 2 weeks back to Berlin not knowing if his mother was still living, whether the home was still standing or what he would find. When he finally returned to the apartment, his grandfather answered the door and cried “Gerhard is home”. The grandmother and Gerhard’s mother were overjoyed to see him and he was so happy that his family was still alive. This is the home he returned to.

A few blocks from this home stands another building which was the dentist office of Gerhard’s father, Otto. It is not a dentist office now but it was interesting to see and imagine how it was in the 1920-1930 time period. We stood outside the building and talked about these times as well.

Across the street from these buildings was a huge open air antique market akin to what we call flea markets. We took a long walk through these booths. At one booth, we saw the following, which is obviously this particular owners way to draw attention to the items he is selling. Just to photograph this image also involved a passed hat for a contribution.

Back to the car for a drive further into Berlin where a parking space was found and we began walking again with a stop at an attraction in Berlin – the Brown Bear Cave. Schnute and Maxi, mother and daughter, are living in this cave which is lovely with many flowers and flowering trees.

A short walk further to the Spree River which was lovely today. On this river is a river boat restaurant, called Café Deckshaus Bistro and we decided to eat there though not outside as it was quite chilly. Had wiener schnitzel which has been a long time favorite of mine with the best potatoes and salad. I guess food always tastes better away from home when you don’t have to make it yourself and you don’t have to ‘eat and run’.

Another walk through another area of street vendors along with beautiful gift shops and souvenir shops all open on Sunday. I did buy some postcards and saw many other lovely items but resisted the urge to spend more EURO. Did see an old style bakery and thought it was reminiscent of the Bavarian bakeries.

Now we were to head toward the Berliner Dom which had been one of my requested sites to see. Also called “The Berlin Cathedral”, the Berliner Dom is a remarkable building, the largest and most impressive Protestant church in Berlin. Consecrated on February 27, 1905, it took severe damage during an air raid in WWII and was left as is until 1975 when an extensive rebuilding program began. Visitors are able to climb to the Dome Walkway up 267 steps in a circular pattern where I, as well as others, had to stop numerous times to catch our breaths. The view from the walkway is outstanding and one can see Berlin below with all of its monuments and landmarks. The walk down was a little better than the walk up. In the lower level of the building are the catacombs with the Hohenzollern Crypt containing the graves of the monarchy of Germany. This is called one of the historically most important sepulchers in Europe. It was a wonderful historical site to visit and a moving tribute to the Evangelical church at the time.

The day was capped with another café and drinks and a long, long walk back to the cars.

It seemed that my German cousins, as well as little Kira the dog, were having no problem navigating these walks on cobblestone streets. Hope I dropped another 20# on this walk.

On the drive out of this area we passed some remnants of the Berlin wall.

If I were to think this was the end of the day, I would be mistaken. Back at Uschi & Harald’s apartment (6 p.m.) it was time for coffee, tea and cakes. Then they began to watch the German Emmy Awards and I joined them for the presentations. Interesting to see German Emmy awards where a majority of the writers and producers, directors, etc were women. During this time, they stopped for the standard dinner fare but I was absolutely not hungry and following dinner back to the Emmy Awards. Following this, 11 p.m. was upon us and I was ready to return to my apartment and bed.

Above photos - Copyright © 2008 by Cheryl Schulte


Apple said...

I happy you've picked up the story again and hope all is well.

It sounds like a exhausting day! I'm glad you were able to see so much, especially the church.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the comments, Apple. Been in training for this new job for the past 12 weeks. Long and exhaustive and no time for anything. I hope I have not bit off more than I can chew with this job.

Trying to get the rest of my trip blog posted.

By the way, the new photo of yourself on your blog is really nice.

T.K. said...

Cheryl, glad you've managed to snag a few minutes for yourself and post a bit more on your trip. I do hope as you post and add your photos to the text that you'll enjoy reliving the trip in your mind because, cuz, you need another vacation!