Day 10, Fri 9/2: Potsdam and a bit of Berlin


Potsdam

Today was pretty light. We were both pretty tired and feeling the full effects of the prior 9 days. It’s shocking to me now to think that our first couple of trips were both 17+ days. It will be a long while before we do that again. Two weeks is definitely a good amount.

We had two solid days planned for Berlin, what we did yesterday and one other, which we’ll do tomorrow. The third day had several options: more stuff in Berlin, a concentration camp about an hour away, or Potsdam about 20 minutes away. We decided on Potsdam and chose today as the day based on the recommendation of that gal at the visitors center yesterday.

If you have heard of Potsdam, it could be from the Potsdam Conference which was held there towards the end of WWII with Truman, Stalin and Atlee, the PM who replaced Churchill. Otherwise Potsdam is known as a place where Prussian Kings built palaces, which was what we went to see today. It is part of the Berlin metro area and on its own has a population of about 170,000.

 It’s own little Brandenburg gate as you enter the centrum. And that’s no accident: Potsdam is the capital of the German state called Brandenburg.
We took a train from Berlin to the Potsdam central station, then took a tram to the centrum. This was the first thing we saw getting off the tram from the main train station.
 Our destination was Sanssouci Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (which, by the way, we’ve seen a bunch of on this trip, I’ve just been negligent in pointing it out as I have in prior blogs; the central areas of Dresden and Prague for example). The park contains the palaces and gardens of the Prussian Monarchy built from the 1700’s onward, and where they lived including the German Kaiser until WW1 ended in 1918.

 

This was the smaller “summer palace” Sanssouci after which the park was named; it was the first built here by King Frederick the Great in 1744, and translates to “without worries” in French. He was big on French culture, gardens and vineyards and built the palace accordingly. Voltaire was a frequent visitor here as one of his friends and advisors.

 

 Dan got this one photo in when he learned there were none allowed; then snuck in the in 2nd one below but that was it. As palaces go, we weren’t very impressed so that ended up being OK.

 

 An antique windmill in the park on the way to the next thing.

This photo and the two below were taken at the gardens at Orangery, another palace in the park built to hold, as the name implies, a greenhouse. This was a term we picked up in Vienna; Schonbrunn had one but it wasn’t in operation and not much to see. This one apparently was, but it was only available as a tour and it was only in German so we passed (despite their token offer for the text that went along with it; it was minimal).

 

 

The park itself was beautiful and made for a nice walk in great weather; the high today was 76.

 

 

This is the “New Palace” but like most things in Europe called “new” it’s still pretty old, completed in 1769. It is the last great Prussian baroque palace built. From the front it looked more impressive than Schonbrunn. It was occupied by Prussian and German leaders from 1769 to 1918. It’s where the Kaiser signed the war documents in 1914 while having breakfast in one of the rooms here.
There were two identical buildings in the back that looked pretty cool in their own right. Come to find out they were service buildings, where among other things the kitchens were.
Unfortunately, photos were not allowed here either, otherwise we would have gotten a bunch of this room. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen something truly unique and this was it; none of the regular words like amazing or stunning are enough. It was called The Grotto and was intended to create an atmosphere of relaxing at the sea. Everything in this room was done in a shell motif. And just not images, actual shells, of every imaginable kind, size and shape, put together to make wall paper, animals, flowers, you name it. It was completely impressive.
 The was the only other photo Dan got; the other impressive room in the place was the one right before this, the Marble Room. It was directly above the Grotto. Much of the palace was shut off from visitors due to major restoration going on.
 The two service buildings I mentioned earlier.

We had gotten to the first palace around 10:10; it was now 1:30 and we were ready for lunch. We headed into town and ate a the #2 place in Potsdam according to TripAdvisor. It was Italian and we hadn’t had it yet on this trip which is pretty unusual for us.

 Dan had the risotto which was amazing. Those chunks of meat are tuna.
 I linguine with beef, mushroom and arugula. Pretty good.
 This is the main drag in town with a cute little church at the end. We meandered from shop to shop, just browsing. We are generally fond of this large towns / small cities and we liked this one.
It was pretty busy for a random Friday afternoon.
  It was a Catholic church, St. Peter & St. Paul.

 

 We took this for the sign at the bottom, something I say to Dan frequently.
It was just approaching 4pm but we were both pretty tired and went back to our room, getting there about 4:45. I crashed for about an hour and Dan slept some too then worked out the final plan for tomorrow and found a place for dinner.
This was in a cute neighborhood a couple of subway stops away: a Vietnamese restaurant run by a very friendly Turkish guy and his Mexican wife. And the food tasted more like Thai to us. But it was good. It was clearly a popular neighborhood spot and the guy knew many of the customers and passers-by it seemed.
 We split a warm chicken salad for an appetizer. It had a kick to it and was excellent.
 Dan had a red curry with tofu.
 An interesting mixture of beef, mango, mushrooms, green beans and other vegetables. I really liked it.
We walked back to the hotel from there and checked out an area we hadn’t been in before, just kept seeing form a distance, including this church: Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, circa 1890.
With that, a decent bedtime coming. And good thing, too, because as our final day, we’ve packed tomorrow, but it will be a good one.

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