Day 12–Monday, June 1

_MG_6474Berlin:: bus tour of Berlin with Katrina Hadba and free time.

Our bus tour took us to some of the most well-knows sites in Berlin. Katrina is an excellent guide and incredibly knowledgeable.

She pointed out museums, monuments, churches and synagogues through out. Berlin is in the midst of planning for soccer finals and just had a large bike race. We also heard about the nick names for the buildings, Germans nickname evidently, there’s the pregnant oyster, lipstick and compact and the washing machine.

_MG_6318We were introduced to the line of cobblestones that quietly makes  its way through road and sidewalks, under buildings and along the river. It is where the outer wall was, and is now gone. There was a “no man’s land” between the walls where buildings reside now but after the wall there was an empty stretch of land through the city.

_MG_6340Driving through the city on a rainy days makes it a little difficult to get great photos but I did my best. The Brandenburg Gate was one of the first stops we made, got off the bus and heard about its significance. One of 18 gates, from 1790, the statue on top has been moved and altered by Napoleon and Prussian kings. In 1961 war was just beyond that gate. The square was closed and no one could walk through.

There are 138 known victims, killed trying to go over the wall. The wall separated families. Those on the west side could go on elevated platforms to see the east.

Nov. 9, 1989 the wall came down, there were some with us on the tour _MG_6370that had first hand experience being here during that time. There is a giant painting of the two Communist secretaries kissing on the lips (a Russian Communist ritual) that is iconic, that was our second stop. The “gallery” was added in 1990–what is essentially graffiti along the remaining standing sections.

_MG_6385We also stopped at Check Point Charley (as in alpha, bravo, Charley…). An unknown soldier is pictured, American on one side and Soviet on the other. Young men and contemporary photography, so it was a bit startling to me.

Last on the trip, today, was an impromptu stop at the memorial to the _MG_6460Jews who died. Grey blocks all different heights. And very quiet.

Tomorrow is my last day on The Heritage Tour, I hope to find time to update all this before I am back in the US. But if not I’ll do a wrap up in a day or so.

_MG_6452We will begin at Magdeburg Abbey and lunch there. A closing dinner and then the packing and shuttles start.

Most of the group departs on June 3.

I’m having a hard time believing this is ending. It went so quickly. I’m impressed with how patient and caring this group is. The couples are kind to one another, people are sharing their “stuff,” (be it cold medicine, clothes or _MG_6398Kleenex), and still listening and considerate to those guiding us through buildings and Abbeys. It has been a real pleasure. Plus everyone loves to laugh–I’ll treasure these memories for a lifetime.




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