John & Anne Wiley

2018/10/25

Potsdam & Hamburg

Our second day in Berlin began with a morning stroll around our hotel, where we enjoyed being invisible “old” people for these kids outside a school.

094538 Contrast

094538 Contrast

It was interesting to see some contrast with kids this age outside our local schools. For one thing, the contrast in attire. Another was a total absence of trash on the street, and we saw not a single smoker. With limited German I couldn’t tell for sure, but heard no bullying, shouting or derisive remarks despite the conversation being very animated. Being invisible would’ve been even more fun with fluent German to understand exactly what they were talking about.

Soon we joined Wolfgang and explored on our way to a train, pausing to drink in the subdued city sounds of a shaded park with the air and gurgle of this fountain.

113911 War Memorial

113911 War Memorial

We stopped for breakfast at a cafe where I enjoyed studying building ornamentation like this unusual set.

5754 Masked Meaning

5754 Masked Meaning

In the little courtyard a little dog took a little break during a little walk to check out the little fountain, ignoring the little duck decorations that had given a little bird a little startle as it approached for a little splash.

5756 Little Bin

5756 Little Bin

You may have noticed the little orange trash bin.  They’re ubiquitous and somehow rarely seem to be full, yet there’s rarely any trash on the ground.

Wolf had planned a surprise for us, with a short train ride to Potsdam. When he told us, I imagined something about the historic Potsdam Conference held there at the end of WWII. We stepped off the train into a quiet little village core, with no indication of a museum.

125642 Quiet Potsdam

125642 Quiet Potsdam

A short walk from this square is a preserved stretch of the original wartime rail line. Along the sides are cast iron grates inscribed with the date, number, category, origin and destination of handicapped, Polish, homosexual, intellectual, artistic and other categories that the government deemed to be “enemies of the state” who were forced onto trains here during the war.

121138 Silenced

121138 Silenced

We saw a few other people and not one of us said a word as we strolled along the track noticing tributes left by other visitors (some probably surviving relatives), inhaling it deeply in somber silence.

Thanks to his inclusion of places like this in his guided introduction, Wolfgang expanded our first taste of Germany far beyond tourist highlights. This brightly painted building stood out even more as we awaited the train back to Berlin for a truly delicious dinner prepared by Wolfgang’s friends Susan & Mathias at their unassuming little folksy neighborhood Village – Feinkost Cafè.

5759 Happy House & Watchtower

5759 Happy House & Watchtower

If I recall correctly, that distant tower was the cold war West Berlin counterpart, to the radio and spy tower we saw on the East Berlin side from the Reichstag dome. We met up again the next morning for breakfast and courtyard view chat, before Anne and I left for Hamburg.

100226 Farewell Chat

100226 Farewell Chat

A few hours later we were in Hamburg seeking gifts for the kids of our friends there. Along the way we enjoyed wandering into many little shops like this colorful grocery.

155027 Tasty Colors

155027 Tasty Colors

We were pleasantly surprised to find affordable gifts that poked out of my backpack as we walked back to the lovely vacation rental apartment our friends had helped us book.

171326 Bunny & Airplane

171326 Bunny & Airplane

Join us in the next post for our more in-depth introduction to heavenly Hamburg that began the next day.

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