Germany 2008

Hot East

Potsdam and Berlin 25 - 27 July 2008
German coat of arms

After a long break I have been travelling again in good old Germany even if only for an extended weekend. I aimed at Potsdam in eastern Germany and it's just a stone's throw from there to Berlin. The castles and gardens of Potsdam and Berlin are a UNESCO world heritage site.
Blue sky and sunshine are any photographers delight but with temperatures above 30°C a sightseeing trip can easily turn into torture.

Berlin - Reichstag building
Many things have changed since my last visit to Berlin some 15 years ago. There is a new central train station, a new chancellery building and the Reichstag building got a beautiful glas dome. Unfortunately the latter one was closed for cleaning that day and so we could only admire it from the outside. Any sights of the Berlin wall that used to cross this area have completely vanished.
Berlin - Brandenburg Gate
Like the Reichstag building also the Brandenburg Gate is no longer as isolated as it used to be in GDR times. It remains to be a matter of taste whether the new layout of the Paris Square is liked or not. It's full of tourists anyway. Fake soldiers in uniforms of the victors armies model in unrealistic unity for the cameras of the delighted tourists.
Berlin - Holocaust Memorial
For sure you will not leave the Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe unimpressesed. Whether this impression has something to do with the Shoah is a different story. On the other hand by talking about this controversial memorial and trying to find an interpretation the fact of the Shoah remains present - even if only as a side effect.
Berlin - Sony Center
Another place that is out of all recognition is Postdam Square. Once the busiest place of Eurpe it became deserted with the construction of the Berlin Wall. After the reunion it became the largest construction site of Europe and now Potsdam square resurrected and turned into a new quarter.
The various restaurants of the Sony Center offer a cross-section of German cuisine with meals at still reasonable prices. A welcome break after the already long march through the heat this morning. 15 stories higher the remarkable dome with its sun-sails overarches the three main buildings.
Potsdam - Dutch Quarter
Traces of the once cosmopolitan prussian past can be found everywhere in Potsdam. Among others Russians, French and Italians left their marks. Dutch Quarter is a harmonic ensemble of Dutch styled red brig buildings. Once it was supposed to attract Dutch craftsmen while nowadays the numerous small restaurants, pubs and small shops attrach tourists as well as locals.
Potsdam - Sanssouci
The world heritage site Sanssouci cannot be avoided in Potsdam. Even if the palace itself is rather small this is counterbalanced by the connected large park area with its many lovely buildings. For an extended excursion, however, I do recommend a day that is less hot, as the parc lacks any kind of restauration. You better bring your own refreshments.
Potsdam - Russian Colony
The Russian Colony Alexandrowka is a testimonial of the former good relations between Prussia and Russia. Fourteen wooden blockhouses surrounded by generous gardens have been build in 1827 for the remaining 12 members of a Russian soldiers choir. In addition they were given a cow when they moved in. A very nice area for a sunday afternoon walk.
Potsdam - Alexander-Newski-Church
Idyllicly located on the Kapellenberg and nicely renovated, the russian orthodox church can be found north of the colony. Of coure also during GDR times there was money available for the maintenance of such a symbol of German Russian friendship. As we came here on a Sunday morning there was a service held and as a matter of respect we abstained from visiting the interiour.
Potsdam - Cecilienhof Palace
The pretty but otherwise unimpressive Cecilienhof Palace build in English cottage style was the location for the Potsdam Conference on which the victors of the second world war decided over the future of Germany. The conference rooms can be visited and a multilingual audio guide offers interesting facts and stories. Nowadays the palace also hosts a hotel and a restaurant.
Potsdam - Neuer Garten
The parc area Neuer Garten ("new garden") is another element of the world heritage site of Potsdam. Although smaller than Sansoucci it is nevertheless worth visiting. On days as hot than this a bath in the Heiligen See ("holy lake") is a popular refreshment among the locals. Of course mainly in those areas where swimming is actually prohibited.

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