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Trip Report Peggy does Deutschland...

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Well, eastern Deutschland anyway. My trip encompassed a total of 25 days in Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Weimar, and Wernigerode. I'm very interested in WWII and Cold War history, so that was my focus.

The length of the trip was really an accident, since I cleverly made my plane reservations before counting how many days I'd actually be gone. I'm embarrassed to say that I'd meant to travel for 18 or 21 days, but I was careless.

It's difficult getting anywhere from my home in Spokane, so I did a mix and match of airlines. I flew Alaska to Seattle, then Lufthansa (non-stop) to Frankfurt, and finally Air Berlin to Berlin. I found to my delight that Alaska forwarded my suitcase to Lufthansa and then Lufthansa forwarded it to Air Berlin. Since I'd been dreading the thought of picking it up in Seattle, then checking it with Lufthansa and repeating the process with Air Berlin, I was pleased with the ease with which it was sent on.

Ten hours was a loooooong time on Lufthansa, especially since their entertainment selections don't include solitaire or free cell-type games. I can happily spend endless hours playing free cell, but I'm not crazy about movies, so I just read my Kindle.

I was in Berlin for only three and a half days, as I've been there several times before. I had a fairly ambitious itinerary, but what with napping, walking, and eating, I didn't see as much as I had intended, mainly because--as I've finally figured out--I became tired too easily, probably on account of my age and lousy physical shape.

I stayed at the Hotel-Pension Bregenz, which is near the Kurfurstendam and is convenient to bus transportation. I've stayed here before. It's clean, comfortable, quiet, and inexpensive. Kind of homey. I can usually hear birdsong outside, and sometimes the sweet voices of children. It's very quiet. I like it a lot.

Thursday: After my post-arrival nap, I had dinner down the street at La Vigna, a nice little restaurant with good food and friendly waiters. Yeah, yeah, I know. You're not supposed to take a nap after arrival. You're supposed to tough it out and go with the local schedule, but after a missed night's sleep and with a 9-hour time difference, my 77-year-old body says nap.

I then took a bus in search of adventure but found none. I was unable to figure out which bus to take home--for reasons which I will not explain here, because they will reveal the depth of my cluelessness. I finally took a subway partway home and then a taxi the rest of the way.

Friday: The next day I walked what seemed like a couple of miles to the hop-on/hop-off bus and did a tour of the city. I didn't hop off anywhere, but I saw various sights that I wanted to check out the next day. I had lunch at a restaurant called Maredo near the hop-on/hop-off kiosk. They had a nice salad bar, and I had a sort of Texas toast to go with it, and my favorite drink, an orangensaftschorle. In general, I find German food too heavy, especially away from the big cities, so I was pleased when I saw the salad bar.

As I walked along the Ku-damm, I noticed that many of the men wore odd-colored pants--maroon, or mustard yellow, or lime green, and I saw a lot of shorts, mainly on young girls. I don't recall seeing these particular fashion statements in the past, but then I haven't been to Berlin in four years.

Saturday: I took the hop-on bus to the area near Checkpoint Charlie, but didn't go into the museum there, as i'd explored it last time I was in Berlin. I thought back, of course, to the first time I saw Checkpoint Charlie, in 1966, when it marked the line between freedom and tyranny. Perhaps if I hadn't seen it then, during the height of the Cold War, it would be more impressive now, but I felt like it was kind of cheesy.

After that I walked to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which consists of large gravestone-like columns, dark gray in color At first, when I looked at it from the outside, I saw these blocks of different sizes. But as I walked among the columns, I began to feel uneasy, then claustrophobic until I was desperate to get out. I assume that was the feeling the architect wanted to evoke. It was very powerful.

Across the street from the memorial was a nice little cafe into which I was lured by a cheerful young woman, a great relief,since the rain had started to pour down, and the wind had picked up. At the table next to me was a group of Italian men, talking away at a great rate and enjoying themselves. The contrast was impressive.

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