A Travellerspoint blog

Elba Trip

Pottsdam and arrival in Berlin

rain 56 °F

Saturday evening we docked. Early Sunday morning we left our luggage
in the hall, ate breakfast and left the boat. We were not
disappointed, there was rain and high winds!

We drove about 1:45 to Pottsdam. We toured the San Souci palace that
was built by Frederick II [der Grosse (the Great)]. The palace was
beautiful, but typical German operation. I was corrected twice for my
behavior [once for using my hand to steady myself against the wall and
once for standing on a grate (to make room for shorter people to get
in front of me)]. I was trying to steady myself while putting on
oversize foot coverings. They looked like size 24 bedroom slippers,
with 'slippers' being the operative word [they slid very easily on the
wooden floors]. We joked that they probably put some wax on the floor
and that we were doing the buffing!
Potsdam_Palace.jpg
It was a nice palace, but it was unpleasant walking around outside.
There are beautiful gardens, but, amazingly, no one in the group
expressed any interest in walking around!

We drove into the town of Pottsdam, a very picturesque place. we had
lunch and wandered around for a while. Then we visited a Tudor style
building that was the location of the Pottsdam conference. The grounds
were beautiful. In August 1945 Stalin, Churchill and Truman met to
formulate how Germany and Berlin would be divided. During this time
Churchill left and was replaced by the newly elected PM; Truman
ordered the bombing of Japan with nuclear weapons. Historians say this
was the beginning of the Soviet Union.
potsdam_conf_site.jpg

Pottsdam today is a very trendy place to live, lots of European celebs
are buying here. Average prices [Euros/ sq. meter] are higher in
Pottsdam than in Berlin. Today Pottsdam is effectively an outer suburb
of Berlin.

We drove into Berlin and saw some of the sights on the way to the
hotel. The reality is that on this gray rainy day, we were all tired
[plus I am starting to get a cold]. The hotel [Hilton] is very
centrally located and well appointed.

We were so tired that we got the name of a bierhaus a few blocks from
the hotel. The food was nice and the environment was pleasant. We
crashed early had no trouble sleeping!
Berlin_-_Brandenburg.jpg
Berlin_reichstag.jpg
Today we took a city tour of Berlin; a very interesting city. Without
all the history of Germany and Berlin, it was difficult to follow all
the details. In the last 80 years the city was impacted by the Nazis
and then by the division between the US, Brits, French and Russians;
but there is a lot of history before that period. After WWII, much of
the city was in shambles; the rebuilding has gone on at different
rates in east and west Berlin. You also find rebuilding of historic
building interspersed with some very modern buildings; it creates some
interesting juxtapositions.
Berlin_Checkpoint_Charlie.jpg berlin_bikes.jpg

I think we are going to make it another early evening.

BTW, I told you about the spring flower festival on the boat. where
passengers did poems and watercolors. Friday night they announced the
winners - I won the poetry competition! I will transcribe the poem
into an e-mail later.

Posted by dgreening 11:20 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Elba Trip

Berlin

sunny 70 °F

Fortunately it won't take long to launder the shorts, polo shirts, etc.. These have gone unused, but the 3 long sleeve knits shirts I brought have been overused (along with the jackets and umbrellas).

Today we visited the Pergammon museum in museum island .... Amazing! (thanks for the tip Lois) They reconstructed a Parthenon built in ancient turkey, the entrance and Ishtar gate from Babylon, gates to the Roman market town of Militis. there were also exhibits of middle eastern art and ruins from "Urta" (I could have the spelling wrong) another city from about 5000 years ago. All in all an amazing museum!
Pergamon_Museum_Berlin_1.jpg Pergamon_Museum_Berlin_2.jpg
Pergamon_Museum_Berlin_3.jpg

Since I am still under the weather we walked back from the museum, enjoyed the warm weather, then I took it easy for a few hours. We have really enjoyed our time here.

The rain has created flood conditions in Prague, Dresden and other towns along the Elbe. The return trip for the boat we were on will not be able to go anywhere near Prague (low bridges) and they cancelled the trips for next week!

One of my readers made fun of my poetry (Steve, you know who you are) . So I will share my award winning poem with you.

The Viking brochure spoke of romance
We thought we'd give it a chance

Expecting bright towns and flowers in bloom
We encountered the rain and the gloom.

If you board the Theodor Fontaine in May
Don't be appalled at the gray

Ignore what the contract may say
And demand at least one sunny day!

Autographed copies will be available for a small fee!

Thanks again to everyone for your nice notes and good wishes. We leave tomorrow and should be at home late Wednesday night.

Posted by dgreening 10:55 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Elba Trip

Wittenburg

rain 54 °F

Wittenburg_town.jpg
This is were Martin Luther is purported to have nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church and started the Protestant revolution. I always pictured Luther as a parish priest, but he was actually a Dr of Theology that lectured at the university. The local prince elector [Frederick the wise], brought a lot of the top minds into teach and although he was Catholic, was a staunch supporter to Luther.

WittenbergDoor.jpg wittenburg_door_-_dwg.jpg
Luther was especially bothered by the selling of indulgences by Rome, but while he was at it added some other perceived problems:
- The masses and Bibles were all in Latin [inaccessible by regular people]

- Lots of emphasis on Saints

- complicated rituals

- ban on marriage by priests

Needless to say, this not make him popular. The Emperor and the Pope both asked him to recant [or be labeled a heretic]. He appeared before the emperor and refused to recant, so he was labeled an outlaw [which means he could have been killed with immunity]. The next day he was captured and hidden away in a house; it turns out that Frederick the wise did this to protect him. He stayed out of sight for a year [during which time, he learned how to change his appearance, use a sword and begin translating the Bible into German]. He finally came back to Wittenberg and led a [mostly] uneventful life.

Early on, Luther was a monk/ professor. When he suggested that priests should be able to marry, he convinced his friends that they [the monks] should marry nuns from the convent. Nine nuns were taken out of the convent in wooden barrels in a merchant's wagon. Luther was quite taken by one of the women, but took too much time and she was taken. His wife [Katarina von Bora] was not paired up, so they married. It turned out to be a very good marriage and she was able to help him keep track of practical things. This is where they lived
Luther_home.jpg
Earlier in the morning, we had visited Torgau.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torgau
torgau-an-elbeder-brunnen.jpg
A spot famous for 2 things:

- This is where Katarina Luther was born and buried [still very popular there]

- This is where the Russians and the Americans met during WWII. There is a great story about an American LTC that was informed that they Soviets were close and he tried to tell them that US troops were close by. He had not flag, so he painted a flag on a piece of wood. The Russians fired a red flare and the Americans should have fired a green flare to indicate that they were friendlies; but he had no flares, so the Russians started shooting. He finally got a green flare. He and a Russian officer met in the middle of a bridge [the next day the Generals met for the formal handshake].
Torgau_Armies_meet_2.jpg
We really like Wittenberg, but our luck held. As we were going into a church the skies opened up!

We have been told that there are flood warnings on the Danube, the Rhine and the Mozelle rivers. according to the Captain, the river is about 2.5 Meters [about 8 ft] higher than last week. I tried to confirm this independently, but was unable to find a good source of info. Either way, it has rained and rained on our trip! Yesterday morning, they had a "Spring festiva". Guests were asked to paint something or pen some poetry - almost every poem was about the rain!

Tomorrow we will leave the boat and go to Berlin. We will have 3 days in Berlin and the forecasters indicate that by Monday we should see sunshine [promises, promises]! Berlin is a place we have wanted to visit for sometime, so we are excited about it.

It looks like it has been hot in DC and about 9 degrees cooler in S FL, if we could have just averaged it out a little things would have been better.

Posted by dgreening 10:37 Comments (0)

Elba Trip

Meissen

rain 58 °F

Meissen from the castle

Meissen from the castle

we left Dresden about 6:30 this morning and moved to Meissen. This is
another cute little town in Saxony. Around 1708, an alchemist in
Dresden developed the formula for producing porcelain. This was the
first European production of porcelain. To this point European royals
were buying lots of porcelain from Asia, so local production was a
gold mine.

August the Strong used an abandoned castle to set up a facility for
production. The good alchemist was kept in 'protective custody' for
many years [how's that for motivation?]. The Meissen factory stayed in
the castle for about 100 years; then they moved into the town itself.

We toured the factory [saw demos of the various processes] and went
through their museum [featuring pieces from over the last 300 years].
The stuff is beautiful, and the prices were huge; not a lot of
purchases made by our group. We walked around the town from the top of
the town where the old palace is located, down into the town center.
Meissen Factory

Meissen Factory

Meissen Factory 1

Meissen Factory 1


Another very cute town [much, much smaller than Dresden]. Like
Dresden, this is a place that was in serious disrepair after the war;
they have done a lot of repair of old buildings and the town is really
coming back into its own.

This afternoon we have moved down to Torgau. The cruise director is
going to take us on a walk around town after dinner [about 9 PM]. I am
not expecting a whole lot.

It has been another overcast day with light rain. I think the temp
might have reached 60, but not a pleasant day. We are trying to be
optimistic, but the weather has certainly not been nice.

I have been updating my distribution list this afternoon. I am going
to send out another msg in a few minutes to see if anyone got dropped
from distribution

Posted by dgreening 10:21 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Elba Trip

Meissen

rain 60 °F

we left Dresden about 6:30 this morning and moved to Meissen. This is
another cute little town in Saxony. Around 1708, an alchemist in
Dresden developed the formula for producing porcelain. This was the
first European production of porcelain. To this point European royals
were buying lots of porcelain from Asia, so local production was a
gold mine.

August the Strong used an abandoned castle to set up a facility for
production. The good alchemist was kept in 'protective custody' for
many years [how's that for motivation?]. The Meissen factory stayed in
the castle for about 100 years; then they moved into the town itself.

We toured the factory [saw demos of the various processes] and went
through their museum [featuring pieces from over the last 300 years].
The stuff is beautiful, and the prices were huge; not a lot of
purchases made by our group. We walked around the town from the top of
the town where the old palace is located, down into the town center.

Another very cute town [much, much smaller than Dresden]. Like
Dresden, this is a place that was in serious disrepair after the war;
they have done a lot of repair of old buildings and the town is really
coming back into its own.

This afternoon we have moved down to Torgau. The cruise director is
going to take us on a walk around town after dinner [about 9 PM]. I am
not expecting a whole lot.

It has been another overcast day with light rain. I think the temp
might have reached 60, but not a pleasant day. We are trying to be
optimistic, but the weather has certainly not been nice.

I have been updating my distribution list this afternoon. I am going
to send out another msg in a few minutes to see if anyone got dropped
from distribution

Posted by dgreening 13:43 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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