Berlin to Dresden, Germany

Day 28, Sunday,  September 22, 2019

Today we travel to Dresden.  We pass lots of trees that are being grown for lumber… and lots of windmill farms. Our new apartment in Dresden is tiny!   This is it, other than an equally tiny bathroom. 

Our apartment is one of the smaller ones but this floorpan shows that none of them are very large.  Ours is the one just right of the stairs, above the little green man.  It is hard to imagine living permanently in such a tiny space. Here are some metro sketches from Berlin that I forgot to post.

 

Sanssoucci Palace and Gardens, Potsdam, Germany

Day 27, Saturday September 21, 2019

We take the metro to Potsdam to visit the Sanssouci Palace and gardens, which was the summer residence of King Frederick the Great. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We did not pre-book tickets, the number of visitors to the palace are limited, but we only had to wait 90 minutes to see the palace. There was lots to see in the meantime.  This great historical windmill stands at the entrance to the Palace Park. The grounds in front of the palace.  We have our picnic lunch and then visit the Bildergalerie.The Bildergalerie was originally an orangerie but it was converted to an art gallery for Frederick’s private collection.  The yellow marble used throughout is from old Roman ruins and is very rare and expensive. There are two long galleries…
connected by a round room with a vaulted gold ceiling. At the far end there is a room for small paintings. The last photo is taken looking out from this room.  There are a lot of beautiful paintings but they were a bit hard to see because of the glare from the windows on the opposite wall.  I am surprised that they allow the much sunlight to enter the gallery, but it did make the space bright and very attractive.We still had a bit of time before our palace visit so we walked down to the gardens.  The layout here is reminiscent of Versailles in France, only on a smaller scale.  All the terraces have these nooks with glass doors that can close when cold to protect the plants.  Frederich loved to garden and grow fruit trees and grapes. We enter the palace and take this selfie in the first  room.  It contains artwork and is an entrance hallway, not very wide at all. The palace only contains twelve rooms. They are all connected by doors in a straight line that lead from one room to another. The room below is panelled in wood with inlaid botanical designs. They are very intricate.We walk through the rooms, each seeming to be a bit more elaborate than the next.
The green room above was Frederick’s study.  He suffered from asthma, gout and other ailments and he often slept in the green chair below as it was too difficult to lie in a bed.  He died in this chair when he was 74. Frederick loved nature and the palace was decorated with botanical themes.  The palace was his refuge and he lived there from April to October.  Sanssouci is from the French “sans soucci”, which means “without worry”.  Frederick was married but lived separately from his wife.  He only married because his father threatened him with imprisonment if he did not comply.  His father was very strict and made his Frederick’s life miserable.  He had a miserable childhood as his father thought him effeminate and tried to change him.  Frederick was gay and surrounded himself with male friends and companions at Sanssouci.  Women were not welcome there.  The yellow room below has raised carved decorations, and a sleeping nook for the bed, as did all the bedrooms.  Notice the spiders on the ceiling decoration.Frederick was unable to travel to Rome and Venice but his palace had many paintings of these cities, which he greatly admired. I think how lucky we have been to visit these cities. As we exit the palace there is a huge painting of Frederick the Great by Andy Warhol.  It is quite a dramatic change from the other artwork we have seen here. We climb the interior of the windmill and step outside to check out the huge blades. This is still a working windmill. We are amazed at the size of the wooden wheels and cogs. We walk through the park with its gardens and fountains towards the Orangerie. Wow!  We have never seen an orangerie this large.  It is enormous!  This photo shows one wing and the entrance behind me.  There is another wing just as long on the other side of that entrance.  This Orangerie was built by Frederich William IV in 1851-1864.  It is 300 meters long. Looking inside one of the wings of this huge orangerie.  This is where all the potted plants that would not survive winter temperatures are kept.  Like the potted plants in the photo above,
Some of the plants are huge. These large potted palms definitely need a fork lift to be moved.  No idea how they ever transplant them when needed?  The pots are almost as tall as I am!We are surprised to find more furnished rooms and another art gallery in the Orangerie.  The Raphael Hall has over 50 copies of Renaissance paintings. We saw the original of this painting in Italy at the Vatican. 

Do you recognize the tondo by Raphael that we saw at the Gemäldegalerie earlier this week?  Interesting how copying famous artworks was such a common accepted practice.  Today I think it would be called forgery. Another room in the Orangerie Palace. And another selfie reflection in a very ornate mirror.  Notice our big slippers! These are some of the stairs we climb to the top of the Orangerie.  And more stairs… to get this view. There is the East wing of this enormous building. That dome way in the distance is another palace. The New Palace, built by King Frederick, is the largest and most impressive complex at Sansoucci, but it is way too far of a walk for us today and the park is closing soon. In front of the Orangerie. Every path here has a view at the end of it…something to entice you to walk and explore. We find the Chinese House which Frederick had built to enhance his flower and vegetable gardens and we can imagine elaborate picnics here in the summer.  We make our way to the main gate just as Sanssouci is closing and catch the metro home.   We had a beautiful warm day for our time here.  A perfect day really.

Berlin Climate Protest March and the Berlin Dom

Day 26, Friday, September 20, 2019

We are going to visit the Berlin Dom today and climb the dome for a view of the city, then head home. An easy day is in order.

However, we wondered what was going on when the metro didn’t stop at the Brandenburg Gate Station. When we got off at the next station this is what we saw…people marching for as far as we could see to protest climate change  Many of the roads downtown are blocked to traffic. We stand and watch for a while…and then decide that we need to take part so we joined the protestors. Here is a short video of us marching.  It was an amazing experience to be part of this march. There are lots of children here.  We think that schools must have closed for the day, as there are many groups of school children marching with banners. There are older people, grandparents with their grandchildren, mothers with babies, families, lots of teenagers and young adults.  It gave me hope that maybe, just maybe people are paying attention to what we are doing to our world.  It was a very emotional experience.The march is going in the opposite direction, away from the Berlin Dom, so we step to the sidewalk and spend the next hour watching the people march by.  Imagine crowds like in the pictures below walking by steadily for more than an hour, and there was still no end in sight.
We think that there has to be more than 100,000 people protesting here, people of all ages, and ethnicities. Here is another short video that gives an idea of the enthusiasm and passion of these protestors.  The protest march continued but we thought we better go do the last bit of our sightseeing in Berlin. The Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany for the Victims of War and Dictatorship below held just one piece of sculpture, Käthe Kollwitz’s famous ‘Mother with Dead Son’, created in 1938. It has quite an impact, all alone in this big stark space.  I discover there is a Käthe Kollwitz museum, but it is not nearby and we have run out of time in Berlin.  Too bad, I love her drawings and would have liked to have seen them. Just across the street we see a very colourful exhibit and head over to find out what it is…7,000 pompoms that form a ‘Wall of Love” installation.

Right across from the pompoms is this absolutely enormous Platane tree.  I think this is the same kind of tree that is on the boulevards by our apartment.  It has a  30 metres spread! Bob wanted to find the plaque in a nearby square where the Nazis burned 25,000 books in 1933. There is also a clear glass panel that looks down below the square onto a room filled with empty bookcases.  The glass was too cloudy to get a photo. Walking toward the Berlin Dom we pass the park we had our picnic lunch a few days ago.  There is no grass, only a packed gravel surface.  The parks in European cities are used by so many people that grass would not survive. Finally we arrive at the Berlin Dom, much later than we had planned. This is a Protestant church that is every bit as ornate as the Catholic Churches we have visited in Europe. The dome above the altar is magnificent.  The Church was hit by a napalm bomb in the Second World War and the dome collapsed into the church. It was open to the elements for many years before it was finally restored to its former glory.This photo shows the bombed Berlin Dom. I had no idea how badly bombed Berlin was before we visited here.  This link shows some pictures of the damage. It must have seemed an impossible task to think of rebuilding such devastation. This is where we are climbing to. The 367 steps were worth it!  Here are some of the views from the dome. We can hear music from way up here. Turns out it is this fellow far below. He is the person on the left side of this bridge with a guitar case on the ground in front of him.  I even zoomed in a bit to take this photo.  It was surprising how clearly we could hear all the words of his song. The park area in front of the Berlin Dom and the Altes Museum. Bob is getting to be quite the photographer. Looking down some of the stairs we climbed.  At least they were good sturdy stairs, unlike some of the rickety belltower ones we have climbed in the past. Part way down there is a small museum with models of the church. The plaster and wooden models used to build the original church were used in the reconstruction of the church after it was bombed. We were way up there walking along the outside of the rectangular windows.  We weren’t sure if the buses were running after the protest march, so we walked back along the river towards the metro station On the way we see this parade of boats. Turns out is is another protest “march” with lots of music and dancing.  Take a look at the back of the boat in the second photo.  We wondered if it was about to sink, it was so low in the water. There were all sorts of spectators watching the boats. There are lots of beautiful big trees in Berlin. Just before we get to the metro we pass a store with hundreds of old sewing machines lining its windows.  Kind of neat reflections too.  It was a much longer day than we expected but I was so glad we got to see and take part, even for a bit, in the Climate March.  When we get home we discover that there were marches like this all around the world!  YAY!!  Finally people are realizing that we need to change the way we live.

 

 

The Gemäldegalerie, the Kunstgewerbe Museum and Life Drawing.

Day 25, Thursday, September 19, 2019

As we walked to the metro this morning, the interior of this car caught my eye! These workers are laying paving bricks for a huge plaza.  We have not seen poured cement sidewalks or plazas here, they are all made with paving stones.  It seems very labour intensive. The Gemäldegalerie is our first stop today.  This museum is near the Berlin Zoo and has one of the world’s leading collections of European paintings from the 13th to the 18th century. The quality of the artwork here is amazing.  This is the first painting we see, part of an altar from 1437 telling the story of Jesus on the left, and Mary on the right. The white ‘baseboard’ in the photo comes almost mid-thigh on me, to give you an idea of the scale of the works. The corner of one painting from 1444 shows two pregnant women, notice the babies depicted on their stomachs. I had never seen this symbolism before. We both liked the Fountain of Youth by Lucas Cranach, 1546. This is not the style of his work that I am familiar with… this is!  I have always wondered at this artist’s creativity. Wow!! This painting by Rogier van Der Weyen from 1440 is my absolute favourite of everything we have seen so far this trip. I absolutely love it and wish that the photo was able to convey the impact it has in person. I would have bought a print but it was almost $100 and I worried about getting it home safely. This is a painting I could live with forever.

There are so many interesting portraits here that I have never seen before.  Can you tell that I am drawn to portraiture?These two tomb figures, 510, were very endearing.
I am fond of Frans Hals portraits and there was a whole room of them. This artist must like them too.  What a tough way to work though, on a little stool, holding such a large drawing board.  I assume the museum does not allow easels. I am excited to see this Vermeer from across the room, but then.. I notice The Girl with the Pearl Earring.  I had no idea the this painting was in this museum. What a lovely surprise. Anna Dorothea Therbusch, 1721-1782, is one of the few women artists who actually made a living as an artist. This is a self portrait. There are Caravaggio’s here…and Georges de la Tours…
and Botticellis,
including this Botticellis Venus.And there are Rembrandts, including these two famous self portraits. I finally get to see these two tondos in person, the one on the left by Raffael (34″ diameter) and the one on the right by Botticelli (54″ diameter).  I particularly like the Botticelli, his Madonnas are always so beautiful. This was fun!  I am so glad we visited the Gemäldegalerie, it was quite amazing.After a picnic lunch we check out the Kunstgwerbe Museum nearby.  I would love to have this beautiful geometry set from the 16th century. This museum has lots of porcelain, furniture and church treasures, but we walk by all these. It is just too much to absorb. A few items did catch our eye though. This is an elaborate portable kitchen from 1807, maybe used for camping? All the info is in German, so not sure. These glazed porcelain figurines were part of a group of 15 that were awarded a gold medal at the 1900 International Exhibition in Paris.  There was also an exhibit on Afro Hair, with some very different displays. And finally, an interesting walk through women fashions through the ages.

Across the street we stop to see the Berlin Library.  It is enormous!  Probably the biggest I have ever visited. It was tough to get in though. Without a library card I had to get a special pass, and no one is allowed to carry a purse or backpack or other bag.  So everyone puts their stuff in clear plastic bags!  I don’t see the point of that all. So different from home. Oh and do you notice the card catalogues in the bottom photo?  I was surprised to see them. Whew! and we aren’t finished yet. We catch a bus back across town to visit the oldest church in Berlin but the interior has been updated so much.  It wasn’t what we were expecting, but still interesting. For some reason there was a rooster crowing inside the church?  No idea what that was about.We split up, Bob heads to the Bode Museum and I catch the metro to go life drawing.  I pass this post with just a few posters wrapped around it on my way to drawing.

Here are my drawings from tonight.  The first page is two minute poses and the times of the other poses are written on the pages.  This was a pretty full day!

Pergamon and Neues Museums, Berlin

Day 24, Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Berlin has lots of museums! We bought a three day Museum Pass which gives us unlimited entry to over thirty museums! Today we visit the Pergamon Museum and the Neues Museum.

This model is a reconstruction of the Temple of Babylon. There were some pieces of walls from this temple on display. I am often most drawn to small items in these exhibits, like these tiny ivory figures of mothers and their children, only about 3-4″ tall from 3000 BC.  I think they are incredibly detailed and beautiful. This is the processional way which led towards the 6th Century BC Ishtar Gate of Babylon.   It is very impressive. I loved this wooden sculpture. Here is another view of this approach that gives a better idea of the size..The reconstruction of the gate has original tiles around the animals. This is only a part of the gate, as the museum ceiling would have to be more than twice as high for the whole gate to fit.These two creatures guarded the Assyrian King in 883 BC.  These are casts from the originals in the British Museum, which were each carved from a single piece of alabaster.  No idea who the guy is…it was impossible to get a photo without some stranger in the middle of it! Times were tough for women. Take a peek at these laws from 3000 years ago.

The saying “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” comes from the laws carved in this pillar known as the Code of Hammurabi, from 1750 BC. This close up of one of the lions from the Ishtar Gate shows how the original pieces of tile were reassembled.
This is the condition of the tiles when they were unearthed.  Can you imagine trying to piece these thousands of bits together?Another huge structure in the museum is the 2nd Century AD Market Gate from Miletus. This is the largest historical monument that has been reconstructed indoors.  It is about 30 meters wide and 16 meters tall. This grand structure was only the entrance to a marketplace, although it looks more like a palace. This ivory box and horn were covered with intricate carvings. There were so many things to see and marvel over. This intricately carved ceiling is from the Alhambra in Spain. We saw other ceilings like this when we visited there a few years ago. The 8th Century Mshatta Facade is 33 metres long and 5 metres high with two towers and part of a central gateway. This decorated western part of the façade of the Umayyad Palace al-Mshatta was a gift to Germany from the Ottoman Sultan in gratitude for the construction of a railway.  There were 7 of these towers on each of the four sides of this enormous palace.  The Aleppo room was built as a reception room by a wealthy Christian merchant in Aleppo.  The paintings Illustrate Islamic floral and geometric designs, scenes from the Old and New Testament, and Persian book illustrations.

“The selection of decorative Psalms, Arabic proverbs and Persian principles which frame these scenes deepen the impression of a community of different religious beliefs living together peacefully. The room is a visual expression of this harmonious diversity.” ~Jenny Farrell

The old city in Aleppo is actually a Unesco World Heritage site.  However, their civil war has destroyed much of the city. This beautiful room would likely have been destroyed if it had not been moved to the museum. A view of the Alte National Gallery we visited yesterday. Next we visit the Neues Museum.  This building suffered severe damage during the Second World War.  In 2003 work began to restore the building without erasing the traces of past damage. We see evidence of this damage throughout the museum. Note the bullet and shrapnel holes in the pillars… and damaged areas in this room.There were many pieces of ancient papyrus from the 4th Century BC.  I find it astounding that these fragile documents have survived. Original paint remains on some of the Egyptian sculptures from 1290 BC! This is a room that was heavily damaged during the war. These three panels are all that is left of twelve panels that were on the walls of this courtyard. We actually visited the three Egyptian temples depicted on these walls during our trip there in 2011. 

The bust of Nefertiti (1,340 BC) is displayed alone, in the centre of a large room. No photos are allowed but no one objects to me drawing her. There are so many rooms filled with so many treasures.  It can be a bit overwhelming. I thought the teeth on this Homo Neanderthalensis were astonishingly white and cavity free! This elk from 10,700 BC was discovered during construction of one of the Berlin underground subways in 1956.
I forgot to post these sketches form the Altes Museum yesterday.

Altes Museum and Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Day 23, Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Altes Museum displays treasures of the classical world with Greek, Etruscan and Roman art.

I often forget that the white marble Greek sculptures were originally painted in life-like colours. This fragment of a grave stele retains some of its original colour. We were surprised at the detail of some of the1,300 ancient coins on display. The museum has more than 150,000 coins in its collection! Bob snaps a photo of me sketching… and then notices the shadows behind this bust.  He is getting very ‘artsy’! This Greek vase from 350 BC showing Perseus slaying a sea monster with a sickle is quite different in design than most of the vases we have seen. The rotunda has a huge dome with a round skylight and has an incredible collection of sculptures on both levels. In the next room this rather unusual drinking cup, is titled Hetaera Above the Chamber Pot!
This Funerary Lion just makes me smile…and I love this statue of a mourning female servant from 330 B.C.There is so much to see here, room after room filled with beautiful art. The Torso of an Old Fisherman, from 200 B.C. is an example of Hellenistic sculpture representing ordinary people.
This statue of Aphrodite, 2nd Century B.C., is thought to be one of the most beautiful ancient terracottas in existence. I think this collection of Middle Class Women from 325-150 B.C. is amazing. They were about 8 ” tall and are so detailed.The Girl Playing Astragal, or knucklebone, is likely a funerary sculpture. These 3rd Century A.D.mummy portraits from Roman tombs in Egypt were a surprise. We had never seen anything like them.  They were painted with wax and tempera. Another sculpture filled room.We have seen Boy with a Thorn, or Spinario, several times in our travels…at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, in Rome and in Paris. In Rome we saw the original bronze sculpture that inspired the marble copies,  It is a favourite of mine. This looks like a painting, but it is actually a mosaic!  I held up a pen in the corner for scale so you can see how tiny the mosaics pieces are. This sad little boy was likely on a tomb for a child.

Next is a room with erotic pottery! On a long covered walkway to the next museum we see a wedding photo shoot.  The Alte National Museum in Berlin features Nineteenth Century art with works by famous painters and sculptors. These are a few paintings that caught my eye, all by German painters that I am not familiar with. There were several paintings that are only partly finished.  I found these very interesting, as it is possible to see how the artists approach the painting process. There were some Renoirs, Pissaro’s and Carravagios, as well as Rodin’s The Thinker. This sculpture was so lifelike and the pose was so natural. There is so much to see, and we have been at these two museums for over five hours! This is the Alte National Museum, seen from the covered walkway. As we walk to the bus we pass the Berliner Dom, the largest church in Berlin.  This photo somehow makes me think of Notre Dame in Paris.  I am went drawing tonight at a Meet Up Life Drawing session. Our model, Josephine, was very tall and thin which was challenging to draw. These are two minute poses.

            A two and a five minute pose

A five and ten minute pose.

Ten minute and twenty minute poses.

And finally two twenty minute poses. 

Bob went to visit a German Spy Museum while I was drawing. He saw an Enigma machine and failed a spy aptitude test. I guess he is not James Bond material!  On the way home I capture our reflections in the subway window.
This is something we don’t see at home…taking your IKEA purchase on public transportation!  It has been a long busy day and we are both a bit tired.

The DDR and Stasi Museums in Berlin

Day 22, Monday, September 16, 2019

Some of the subway stations in Berlin are quite grand, with their vaulted steel and glass ceilings, like the one we were at this morning.

I have finally begun drawing people on the subway.  It is often difficult to find a subject who won’t notice me drawing them. I like to use a Bic Fine Ballpoint pen for these subway drawings. A pen forces me to commit to what I put down, no erasing makes it challenging.

We are on our way to the DDR Museum, which is a museum about what life was like in East Berlin before the Wall fell. I wasn’t interested in going so Bob went to the museum and I found a place to sit and draw St. Mary’s Church.

Bob discovered a few interesting facts. The most surprising is that East Berliners were ardent nudists!   Four out of five East Germans regularly went sunbathing in the nude, as illustrated in this poster in the museum.

It isn’t such a surprise that the East Germans were hard drinkers.  Per capita consumption was the equivalent to 286 bottles of beer and 23 bottles of spirits. The men and women of East Germany could drink all-comers under the table!  This was a typical living room bar cabinet. We saw these Trabants on the way to the DDR museum.  While there Bob discovered that the cars’ bodies were made from a material called Duroplast.  This was a composite material made from cotton fleece and granulated phenol, which was heated under pressure and formed into a rigid component for use on the exteriors of the cars.While walking to a nearby park to draw I passed this store dedicated to the Ampelmann, the little character that lets pedestrians know when it is safe to walk. While I sat drawing the church I watched these young ladies walk out onto the nearby fountain for some photos. I quickly got my camera out because I knew what was going to happen next.
Surprise!!  I laughed so hard, as did all their friends! We had a picnic lunch and then headed to the Stasi Museum. This museum is located on the former grounds of the headquarters of the GDR State Security. We had a two hour tour that talked about how the lives of the East Germans were controlled, manipulated and repressed by the political police system of the former East Germany.  Seems like everyone was spying and informing on everyone else, and almost every aspect of people’s lives was controlled by the state.  It must have been impossible to trust anyone.  Most of the exhibits were like this office room below, not very interesting I thought, but our guide’s talk was very interesting. He told us anecdotes about his life as well as his parents and grandparents lives during this time.  I hung out at the back of our tour group and did some sketching of people in the tour while I listened.

There were hidden cameras everywhere in East Germany, documenting what people did, who they talked with and where they went.  Here are some hidden cameras in a bird house, behind a button, and in a watering can with a false bottom.

There were even hidden cameras in tree trunks to spy on people if they took walks in the forest!  The really sad and scary thing is that there are people today that think that a dictatorship government would be better than the democracy they now have. They think that they would just need better leaders and they would be better off.  It is hard to imagine that anyone could think going back to anything like this could be beneficial!

In the Magdalenenstrasse subway station on our way home we see a series of 20 large scale paintings done in a neo-expressionist style: angular, grim with bits of bright colour. They images, competed in 1986, portray the history of the workers movement in East Berlin.  Our guide at the Stasi Museum pointed out a painting in the museum by Wolfgang Frankenstein, who was one of the artists who made these murals,

 

 

East Side Gallery and Mauer Park, Berlin

Day 21, Sunday, September 15, 2019

The 1,316 meter long East Side Gallery is the longest open Art gallery in the world and it is also the longest surviving piece of the Berlin Wall. 118 artists from 21 countries began painting the East Side Gallery immediately after the wall came down and it officially became an open air gallery in 1990.

The sign says: Erection of the Wall, 1961, Fall of the Wall, 1989, Painting of the wall, 1990 and Restoration of the Wall 2009

Walk along the wall with us.

A Trabant, cleverly painted to look like it’s breaking through the wall is a well known image. We see a white Trabant soon after seeing this.  The graffiti n the back-side of the East Side Gallery is interesting too.
We stop for a snack and listen to some music along the banks of the Spree River before continuing our walk along the open air gallery.

Honecker and Brezhnev in a ‘brotherly socialist kiss’ is another famous image.

At the end of the wall we walk across the historic Oberbaum Bridge.Apparently all the hanging shoes are street art.
Next we take one of the old trams to Mauer Park which is the site of a huge flea market and a gathering place for Berliners and tourists alike. There are people everywhere!
The people on the hillside are watching karaoke performances, which happen here every Sunday. There is also an ongoing 3 on 3 Basketball game in the foreground.  Did I mention that there are people everywhere?  Bob figures probably over 20,000 people in the park today and I think we are older than 99% of them! After sampling some of the food trucks wares, we make our way up to the karaoke viewing on the hillside and have fun watching the performers. Some were not the best, but the audience was very supportive and everyone gets a big round of applause.  Here is a video of the first performer we saw.  In a few places I now realize I need to move the camera a bit more slowly when panning, but take a look. This lady was selling some rather interesting pins, and offered to let me take her photo for a small donation, and yes, they were those kind of dicks! This guy from the Dominican Republic got a great round of applause, but more for his dancing than his singing.
Some of our fellow audience members.  One of the performers from Afganistan got lots of people up dancing.The flea market was closing by the time we got around to visiting it. As we passed by this booth I overheard a guy say to his girlfriend “All these glasses and you still can’t see my point of view!”
There were lots of groups of performers. Here is one video and here is another. I can’t figure out how to edit them, so just stop watching when you have seen enough. This sign on an artist’s booth makes me laugh.  Today was a nice change from the sight seeing we have been doing. It was really relaxing, a lot of fun, and great people watching!.

Our Own Hop-On Hop-Off Tour of Berlin

Day 18, Thursday, September 12, 2019

First stop today is Potsdamer Platz which is an area that used to be the Dead Zone when the Berlin Wall was in place. After the wall came down these three skyscrapers were built and became the focal point for this new area.
There are some pieces of the Berlin Wall here and for some strange reason they are plastered with wads of chewing gum left by visitors. Notice behind the wall is the Canadian Embassy.
The display was very informative. Bob knows a lot more about the history of Berlin than I do so I found these panels quite interesting. This one shows the Dead Zone, which was the unoccupied area around the Berlin Wall, and the developed area now.
The cobbled line Bob is standing on is where the Berlin Wall used to be located. We walk to the Sony centre and find this interesting building that has part of an old hotel interior enclosed in glass as part of its exterior wall. Wow! This LEGO giraffe is the biggest giraffe I have ever seen… and Bob found a pretty huge Angry Bird! We make our own Hop-On Hop-Off tour by catching the #100 bus. First stop is the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. It was destroyed by the bombing in WWII and is now an anti-war memorial to peace and reconciliation. This is what the church used to look like.The little bit of the interior that remains is covered in beautiful mosaics… even the floor is completely decorated with mosaic tiles.  It must have been an incredibly beautiful church.Outside we see this memorial for the victims of a terrorist attack on December 19, 2016 on the steps of the Memorial Church,  A stolen truck was driven into the crowd at the Christmas Market and twelve people were killed and seventy were seriously injured. The names of the deceased are engraved on the steps and the bronze crack represents the fracture the attack inflicted on society.  It is like a scar and shows that healing and everyday life are possible, but we should not ignore or forget the scars we bear and what caused them.  We walk inside the Memorial Church and I am quite overcome.  Something about this space moved me to tears. It is unlike anything I have seen before. This Christ figure was beautiful. There is a concert here tonight and we sit for a while listening to the two organists practicing for tonight’s performance. You can see them in this photo.  To listen to the organ music click this link. The walls are made of 22,200 panes of stained glass and each pane is made of many individual glass pieces. The floor is covered in circles of many colours and sizes. It made me think that all those little pieces of glass and all the circles on the floor could represent people who have died and are memorialized in this church.The outside walls show how each piece of glass is embedded in mortar within each individual pane. The outside of this church gives no hint of the vibrant colours inside. We walk down the broad boulevard between the lanes of traffic. Here is a view looking back towards the bombed church.

We were looking for the KaDeWa department store. With over 60,000 square metres of selling space, it is the second largest department store in Europe after Harrods in London. We make our way up to the sixth floor and find a whole floor of yummy things to eat. Too bad there are no gluten, dairy and egg free options for me.

We have noticed that European men like colourful socks. Here is what fashionable girls are wearing in Berlin.  We continue our tour on a double decker bus.  This is the first time we have sat up front on the top of one of these busses. !t does give a different viewpoint. Bob notices something strange about this stop sign. We drive through the centre of a huge park and around this monument. The Victory Column with Victoria, the Goddess of Victory in the centre of the Tiergarten park is one of Berlin’s most famous landmarks.We drive past the spot where the old book market was yesterday. Bob did a bit of research and discovered that this is the University where Eisnstein and the Brothers Grimm taught and where Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles studied . It was also the site of the burning of thousands of books by the Nazis in 1933. Next stop is Alexanderplatz, a large public square and popular gathering place in Berlin. We find a bench for a tea break and witness a little drama unfolding behind us. It took eleven police officers over half an hour to move this fellow in handcuffs from beside the fence to the police wagon. There was lots of interviewing of bystanders and note taking but we don’t have a clue what it is all about. This is the view in front of us.I wanted to go to the top of the Berlin TV Tower but it cost €16 which is almost $24 each. That seemed a bit too much. The Neptune Fountain is is very ornate.

We manage to get on a bus going in the wrong direction on our way home, so we hop off and decide to take the subway instead. It is faster and easier to figure out than the bus system.

Slawenburg Raddusch, A Nordic Fort In Germany

Day 14, Sunday, September 8, 2019

We were both tired last night so we left our packing and cleaning until this morning. By noon we are on our way to Berlin. We stop at truck stop just before the Polish border to get lunch at a KFC and spend what Polish money we have left.  I have never seen so many trucks in one place! There are nine rows of trucks like this parked here. There are lots and lots of trucks on Polish highways! We pass by lots of trees that appear to be grown for timber. Their lower branches have been trimmed so that the trunks grow straight.Not far into Germany we stop at Slawenburg Raddusch, which is a reconstruction of a fort built by Slavic people in the 9th and 10th Centuries. It is surrounded by a moat for added protection.

There were about 40 of these forts in this area. They were used to store food supplies and act as places of refuge during attacks.

We find this huge fellow on our walk to the fort.  A 10 m wide wall was built in a circle.  Long oak beams were alternately stacked in a criss-crossed direction and the spaces between the logs were filled with earth and stones. The almost circular inner surface with a diameter of 36 m. originally contained a few small houses and four wells. This well is 40 feet deep. In the wells were found: ceramic fragments, knives, lance tips, whetstones, sledgehammers, bone skates, wooden mallets, spades and a rare, valuable brass bowl. The walls of this reconstructed fort use concrete, so the interior of the walls is  a museum where the artifacts found in this area are on display. We climb to the top of the wall which offers a great view of the surrounding landscape.  In the 1980s, this area was strip mined for coal.  Before the giant excavators ate their way through the landscape, archeologists found that the Slavs were not the first settlers in this place. Under the wall, Germanic remains from the 5th / 6th century were found. The earliest findings, however, date back to 2200 -800 B.C. Unfortunately the strip mining destroyed most of the archaeological remains in the area along with 50 villages that were here before the mining started. Imagine displacing all those people to mine coal! This model shows what the original fort would have looked like… and how it was constructed. The dirt used to fill the walls came from around the base of the fort and created the moat. The “Götze von Raddusch”, an idol from 926 A.D.,made from an oak split-beam with a head-like finish and a perforation in the chest area was found  in the excavation of the youngest well. This was a rare find. I thought these straight pins for sewing were pretty amazing, considering they are so ancient. Here is a view of part of the museum with its large display of pottery,,, and burial pits, where cremated remains were placed along burial gifts for the deceased. I was intrigued by the shapes of some of the pottery. All the pottery was made by hand without the aid of a potter’s wheel. I wonder what these pots were used for? The tour was great. We rented an audio guide for €1.5 and it was very well done. We got so much more out of the display because it. We managed to finish our visit through the museum just as it was closing at 6:00 pm. We see lots of wind-farms on our way to Berlin. We arrive in Berlin as it is getting dark and check into our home for the next two weeks.