April 13, 2022
We could have spent more time in the Netherlands but it was time to move on. 4 trains later we arrived in Bremen and walked to the B&B Hotel. There we dumped our bags and set off exploring AND to find dinner. What a gorgeous town! Dinner at a restaurant on the river was schnitzel and a local beer. Filling AND delicious.
The hotel breakfast was really good and plentiful and we enjoyed it at our leisure before heading out to explore Bremen. We purchased tickets for a tourist “train ride” but it was pretty much a waste of time as the commentary was in German only. You’d think the guy who sold us tickets would have mentioned that. So we wandered around on our own and even attended a prayer service at the Liebfrauenkirche (church of our Lady) which was built in the 11th century. The service was in German (of course) but it was short (15 minutes) and interesting. A light lunch was in order at the Ratskeller as it’s in the basement of the town hall which was built in the early 1400’s. The pumpkin soup was good but it’s the ambience you go for.
Having seen enough of old buildings we opted for a walk on “Am Wall” (on the wall. HAHA). I love the way Germans name things. We did about 4 or 5 km of the trail that apparently surrounds the city.
Then we decided to check out the fair set up behind the train station. It was the biggest fair I’ve ever seen with a ton of rides, games and so many different food booths.
Bright and early Friday we packed our back packs and headed for the train station. This journey was much easier as only 2 trains were required to reach Berlin. Stephanie (a friend I’d met on a trip to Turkey) met us at the station and took us into the city where we also met Sharlan (a friend of Sue’s). We got acquainted over lunch and then joined a walking tour that started and Brundenberg Tor. Sue and I look for the Sandeman’s free tours in every city. It’s a great way to get your bearings and they’re generally VERY well done. This one was no exception. Ernestina was engaging, knowledgeable and told great stories. We learned a LOT!
It was cold, damp and pretty miserable out but Stephanie was a trouper and showed us around some more. We ended up in a local bar where we enjoyed a beverage before saying good bye to Sharlan and heading to Stephanie’s house. There her wonderful husband was preparing a delicious meal of fish for Good Friday. Chris and Stephanie were amazing hosts and we were incredibly grateful for their hospitality
Above is the Brandenberg gate and the Holocaust memorial.
After breakfast with Stephanie, Sue and I braved the train and spent the day wandering Berlin. First off we visited the Tränenpalast. (Museum of Tears). It gives a really good explanation of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall and the destruction of it. We took the canal tour which was good, giving us a different perspective of the city but not as entertaining as the one in Amsterdam. At least the weather was nice enough to sit on the top deck! More walking around gave us a better look at some of the things we’d seen on the walking tour, including the Holocaust memorial, Brundenburg Tor and the silly Checkpoint Charlie. A must when in Berlin is trying Curry wurst. It’s a nice snack. We managed to take the train successfully back to Stephanie’s and we all went out for pizza.
Sunday we said goodbye to our wonderful hosts and took the train back into the city to the Ibis hotel where we dropped our bags and did some more wandering in the Ostbahnhof area of the city. There’s a long section of the wall remaining that is now an art gallery. Artists from around the world have come to “decorate” it
Later we met the group we’ll be traveling with for the next month and went out for dinner.
Monday: Sue and I had finished breakfast and were on the train shortly after 8 so we could get to the Bundestag for our 9 am reservation. It’s free but you must register in advance. Once there we encountered more security than the airport and even had to wear an FFP2 mask. Thankfully we had one.
The security makes sense as it’s the German version of parliament buildings. Major decisions are made there by the highest level of government. You’re given an audio guide to listen to as you walk up and then back down the dome and it’s very informative.
After that we headed to the Holocaust memorial and visited the underground museum. The security wasn’t quite as intense there. The museum is full of stories and is sobering.
Next we decided to go for a good walk through the Tiergarten. It was once the private hunting grounds for rich people and was pretty much destroyed during the war. It’s now a beautiful park. We visited the memorial to the gypsies who were also persecuted by the third Reich. We got to the zoo and boarded bus 100, a city bus that visits all the tourist spots. We got off on museum island and walked around some more, stopped for ice cream and wandered some more. Berliners were out in full force enjoying the beautiful weather on a holiday Monday. There were people everywhere! Families enjoying picnics where ever they could find green space. Young people cycling, skate boarding, etc. Folks walking everywhere.
Dinner was a nice cafe overlooking the weather served by a very grumpy waiter. Oh well. The food was really good. lol
Somehow I entered the wrong hotel in my directions and we ended up 2.5 km further away. So we decided to take the train. Back at the hotel we crashed. Another 30,000 step day.
Berlin is a really interesting city. Any museum related to the Berlin Wall or the war is free as Germans want the information to be available to everyone There is SO much history here and it’s not the same history that’s in our text books or that we heard on the news. There are nuances that were missed that help it make a lot more sense. You really need to come here and see it for yourself.
Next stop. Krakow and a visit to Auschwitz. I’m kind of dreading it.