Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Two Days In Berlin And Now Prague

We spent two days in Berlin and have now made it to Prague. I had never been to Berlin before so was excited to see this city I had heard so much about. I approach each new destination with enthusiasm and eager curiosity and I did the same with Berlin. However, I simply did not feel it there. The vibe everyone had been talking about did not touch me in the same way. I am not sure if it is its somber war history that still has me reeling, but I just could not settle in. On our first day there, we started off with our usual free walking tour. This one was four hours and the guide very knowledgeable. Not much remains of the old architecture as it was bombed in the war. I found the newer architecture drab and depressing and walking around Berlin made me feel eerie somehow. I cannot explain it. I am sorry Kathleen, I know this city is your favorite city in the world, but it did not capture me the way I had thought it might.

Our hostel was beautiful, however, and the people were very friendly in general. We also enjoyed the best weather we have had on the trip so far, sunny and around 75 degrees. On our second day, we took the train to Potsdam and went out to visit Sanssouci park and its three castles. It was like being in France. Lush, beautiful garden and we had an amazing German meal. I had a bratwurst and Brian had this gianormous German meatball sandwich that was to die for. We were feeling so much better here. Afterward, we headed back into town. We wanted to see different things, so Brian headed off on his own to see more of the Berlin wall as he felt he had not gotten enough of it on our walking tour. I wanted to see Kurfurstendamm that I had heard so much about. So, I went shopping, while Brian went for more history. The shopping street was very generic, again sorry Kathleen, but there was a beautiful old church, half bombed out, remaining since the war. We had decided to meet up at the Reichstag for a tour up in the cupola and I high tailed it over there as I was running late. This allowed me a nice walk through the Tiergarten, their big city garden, and THIS was impressive. Such an oasis in this city. People were barbecuing and it smelled so nice. I found myself feeling somewhat softened toward Berlin.

I met Brian at the Reichstag and we went up on the roof to see the cupola on top. There was an amazing view on top and the cupola was a really impressive piece of architecture. This last bit of sightseeing allowed us to leave with a better feeling about Berlin than the previous day when we arrived.

The next morning, yesterday, we took a bus to Prague. Walking from the Prague bus stop to our hostel, I immediately took a liking to this city with its old buildings and winding streets. However, it is very expensive here. But, we managed to find ourselves a wonderful meal for lunch. Brian had wedding schnitzel and I had wine battered mushrooms with roasted potatoes and a beer. Yum. But, it was raining. We could not find any lodging for our third night here and the remaining travel reservations were just not panning out. So, it ended up being a rather frustrating day and at the end we gave up. Headed back with wet, soggy shoes and a gray mood. I ate a candy bar and drank my small bottle of wine before falling asleep in my hostel bed. Hopefully, today will be a better day.

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