Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Warsaw - The Royal Castle. Beyond Amazing

Today I needed to get moving and planned on going to a museum. Instead I ended up at the The Royal Castle right in Old Town. Saturday, the old town area was full and I estimate that there were 50,000 people through out the day having fun, a family day, balloons, fun, music, horse carriages, food. What a vibrant area.

I thought I'd just visit the castle and look at the outside, but instead went in to tour it.   I try to be careful when I go places that I don't study them too much before hand so I have surprises. I'm not a Steve Ricks studier.........spoils all surprises for me......so I just like to know basically what it is and then go. Well, nothing would have even prepared me for the this.   I could have broken into tears several times seeing the overwhelming beauty of this place. I was happy also to see a few Rembrandt paintings there (an armed guard was stationed by those paintings). Amazing paintings, tapestries, sculptures and furniture and all things that were unbelievable.  I think I was most impressed with the floors throughout.  Almost every room had a different pattern and they were really works of art.

The castle was burned and looted by the Nazis after they invaded Poland in 1939 and almost completely destroyed it in 1944 after the failed Warsaw uprising. The castle was rebuilt and reconstructed. It is now a protected UNESCO World Heritage site.

So I'll share some pictures and I know they won't convey the majesty. I would hope that those who love to travel will be able to experience this marvelous place.

Marble Room

A well deserved coffee break.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Berlin 8/14 - 8/19/2018

Had wanted to go to Berlin for a long time.  Many things to see and an interesting city.  I will return to Berlin after St. Petersburg, Russia for two days and will try to get to a few museums.

I flew to Berlin 8/13 and arrived 8/14.  Mike and Cheryl, who had arrived two days before I got there, came to the airport meet me.  A little convoluted so I did appreciated the pick up.  Good metro/bus system once one gets the hang of it.

We spent an entire day walking along the Berlin Wall.  They have done an excellent job of preserving parts of it and putting up historical information about the wall, escape tunnels, photographs, memorials so one gets a real sense of how many of the people felt on both sides of the wall.  It did affect families, business and the entire county and economy.  Brought in a mass of immigrants to do work and changed the face of Germany.

Took a bus tour of the city and saw the sites.  Brandenburg Gate, Check Point Charlie, the Wall in several places, Reichstag Building, Museum Island, Topography of Terror, a huge inner city park, Tiergarten that is 520 acres that houses the zoo.  There is a carillon in the park that was pretty and interesting.  Not many places have carillons, but we do have a wonderful one in Florida.  We then took a one hour boat ride on the Spree River that flows through the city center.  It was refreshing and gave us such a different perspective.  I thought it was so funny that on the river bank there were lawn chairs to use while drinking beer and watching the river that had advertisements on the chairs for Sol beer, viva Mexico -- good marketing.

We ate lots of good food and drank more than our share of beer -- this is to be expected in Berlin.  Had to take pictures of the meals and beers so we could remember.

Lots of graffiti all over the city and some nice murals too.  The graffiti seems to be a form of art and some of it is very good, creative.  While on the Charles Bridge in Prague, I saw a painting that showed, "If graffiti changed anything it would be illegal" which I thought was an interesting statement.

We took a day trip to Potsdam to see Sanssouci Park and the royal Prussian palaces.  Built during the reign of Frederick the Great.  This place was out of this world beautiful.   Huge estate and it seems almost impossible that the royalty could have the kind of money to built these places.

The main palace tickets were sold out right when I got to the front of the line.  That was a bummer, but we were able to see The New Palace (German: Neues Palais) which was built in 1763.  Stunning, smaller and I was so impressed.  It was actually the guest house for visitors with a few rooms and then guest bedrooms.  They had one room that was about 90% made out of marquetry and I've never seen anything close to the beauty and workmanship in that room.

Went out one evening for a Couchsurfing meetup.  Had some beers and got to talk to some Germans and other travelers.  Around 11:00 p.m. we headed home and stopped for dinner.  Had some good food at a street cafe, not normal eating dinner at midnight.  Fun evening.

Our Airbnb was in a perfect spot and just a block and one-half from a main metro station and all trolleys.  Nice to be so close and I did learn a lot about public transportation.  This has always been my main weakness in traveling, but I am gaining confidence which is good and will save me from walking so much or taking taxis which really adds up quick.

So Berlin was a good place to visit and I will take home many fond memories.  As I said, I'll be back for two days after Russia and check out some other places.

Tampa - off to Berlin 8/13/18

Memorial for people who died trying
to escape East Germany

Memorial flowers that I think are always replenished
by civic groups.  Moving memories.

A guard tower

The wall was erected in 1961.  We were 
all surprised and thought it went up sooner
after the end of the war. 

Many tunnels were dug as a
way to escape.  Most discovered quickly
by people who were spies.

Here is a great story of an escape that I read years ago.  Things are wrong when your people want to escape.  Look at Venezuela right now, mass exodus and borders closing, trapped people.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_German_balloon_escape

Huge mural on building up against Wall.

Famous photograph showing an East German
military man jumping the barbed wire and escaping
East Germany.

Hans Conrad Schumann (March 28, 1942 – June 20, 1998) was an East German soldier who defected to West Germany during the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. ... Schumann jumped over thebarbed wire while dropping his PPSh-41  (Wikipedia)

The beginning, only barbed wire tangled up as they
work very hard to get the wall erected.  During
this time many people escaped before they
were trapped.  They left with a suitcase.

One of the best dates is the history of mankind
November 9, 1989 - the Wall starts going down.

* a special day for John and me too, our son, Robert
was born.

Puppet shop

The Reichstag glass dome

Erected in 1957 as a gift from the US government 
to Berlin, knownas the Pregnant Oyster

Statue nicknamed Goldelse, meaning something like "Golden Lizzy"

Pretty entrance to the Berlin Zoo

Advertising Mexican beer in Germany????
Sure did surprise me.

Always love to find brides.  Beautiful.

and food and coffee of course.  One can't live on beer.

Home made at our Airbnb, French press

Many fun adventures in Berlin, an interesting city, great transportation and food.  It was not a favorite city, but one that made us think about the past and offered us a view that we don't want repeated again in our world.

Hope this read OK, I haven't proofread it 50 times like I usually do and John used to proof it for me too.......................