A Travellerspoint blog

Berlin - Thursday, 18 September 2014

Scenic Free Choice - walking tour to the Topography of Terror

sunny 24 °C

Had a couple of reds with dinner so am having trouble typing tonight. It's funny how white wine doesn't affect me, but red wine does!
We had a little sleep in this morning and a leisurely breakfast and met our guide at 9.35 am .

We chose to visit the Topography of Terror. Everyone else went on the river cruise or to Checkpoint Charlie. Our guide was a pommie who has lived in Berlin for 15 years and has a Polish girlfriend. He was rather overweight and smoked and had recently had a stroke so walked very slowly, but wouldn't wait for Phil to take photos.

We walked the long way round and came to the place where Hitler's bunker was. Phil has been waiting to get here all his life!

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Then we went down into the subway to see the red marble from Hitler's office.

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Finally we arrived at the Topography of Terror and parted ways with our guide. We spent a long time inside reading all about the rise and fall of Hitler. It was very sobering but interesting nonetheless.

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This guy was a war correspondent for the Germans.

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Then we went to Checkpoint Charlie for a few photos and came back to our hotel area for a late lunch.

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Before lunch we met with Tim and confirmed our transfer to the airport on Sarurday. Most of our group are leaving tomorrow. We ate lunch at an Aussie Restaurant across the road from our hotel.

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We went to our room and had a couple of hours rest and then had dinner at a lovely local restaurant. This looks pretty bland but it was yummy ravioli.

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Posted by gaddingabout 21:23 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Berlin - Friday, 19 September 2014

On our own in Berlin

overcast 24 °C

Had a huge sleep in this morning. Phil was up as usual at 5am scratching aroind and I went back to sleep and woke up at 8am with the door bell ringing. It was him trying to wake me up! We came down for breakfast and before we ate, we said goodbye to Peter and Mavis.

We had a leisurely breakfast, but I was very bad. Fruit, followed by eggs benedict, followed by chocolate crepes, with a side serve of smarties! How disgusting. We had to be in the foyer at 11.30 am to say goodbye to Gail and Owen so we wandered over to the shopping centre to look at the 25 Years since the Berlin Wall came down exhibition. We just about know EVERYTHING about this subject now.

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Said goodbye to Gail and Owen who are off to Turkey for a two week tour.

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Tina, Tim's Scenic Tours helper and guide in Berlin.

We walked back to the Brandenburg Gate to take photos while the sun was in the right position for good photo taking,

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then went into the Jewish Museum which is located under all the stone blocks. It was very moving, as you would expect it to be. It is very dark inside and only the exhibits are illuminated, hence a very somber feeling permeates the rooms, which is quite appropriate because it is such a dreadful subject. There is not a sound. The visitors to this museum are totally "in the zone". A very humbling experience. We have seen a lot of this kind of thing throughout the Baltic States.

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Cyclists EVERYWHERE in Berlin. They have their own designated bike path, which is on the footpath, as opposed to the edge of the road as in other cities. Woe betide any poor unsuspecting tourist who happens to wander off the footpath and on to the bike path. They just mow you down! No ringing of bell warning - nothing!

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Back to the hotel to get directions to a Christmas shop near KaDeWe and we caught a bus down there. It was pretty expensive, about 7 euros for two, one way. We started walking to the Christmas shop but were going in the wrong direction. Men! Why won't they ask directions? Anyway after walking for miles and miles, we finally asked directions and turned around and walked miles and miles back the other way! Bumped into Harry and Gloria in the Christmas shop. They are staying in the Swissotel just near there. Bought my Christmas angels, then walked to KaDeWe for a very late lunch.

We also had a look at the new Samsung tablet, and will probably buy the latest version in Singapore on our way home.

By this stage my hip is starting to get sore again so we caught a taxi back to the hotel. It only cost 10 euros and we didn't get jerked about like we did on the bus. At one stage, Phil fell on me.

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Now for the packing, as we leave for Athens tomorrow morning.

Had a quick, early dinner of soup and pizza. Up early tomorrow for our flight to Athens.

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Last couple of shots of the lovely area near our hotel.

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Posted by gaddingabout 19:21 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Sydney to Canberra - Friday, 10 October 2014 and Epilogue

Home again - safe and sound!

semi-overcast 22 °C

Had a pretty good night's sleep, only woke up a couple of times. The bed and pillows are DIVINE! I don't want to get out of it. Thanks to Phil, who coughs all over the place, I have caught his cold and seem to be losing my voice.

We packed up and went over to the airport to have a quick breakfast before we started the drive home. The airport was chokkas as so many planes fly through the night and land early in the morning in Sydney. We had an uneventful trip home and arrived back at 11.45am, which is two and a half hours from the airport to our place.

The country side is so green and our place looks so nice with all the Spring daisies in bloom.

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Canola fields near Lake George.

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Unpacked, started the washing, took the hire car back, went grocery shopping and watered the indoor plants. Only lost two but one is looking a big sick.

Went to the Post Office to collect my parcel of Matryoska dolls that were posted to me from Helen of the gift shop on the Scenic Tzar. I am pleased to say they arrived in one piece and look fabulous. The kids at Macquarie will be very happy to receive one, I hope. As expected, Australian Customs opened the box and checked the wood, but left me a note inside the box to say they had done so.

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So, summing up the last six weeks in dot points.

We had a great trip and enjoyed every minute. Met some great people, some okay people and some not so great people, but in a group of 98, that's just the law of averages.

Food in Russia - if you like meat, potatoes and mushrooms, then you'll do okay. No green veges here, but I'm not sure why. Haven't they heard of importing?

Traffic in Moscow was horrendous.

St Petersburg is the most beautiful city in the world, I think.

It helped us to appreciate the oppressions of past generations and to realise, but we already know it, that by living in Australia, we are living in the best country in the world - BAR NONE!

Australia is a young country and hasn't inherited the hang ups of past atrocities that are imbedded in the history and culture of these people.

It makes you understand why Russians appear so dour. The people don't smile, not even the babies!

The cars are dirty.

The cities are very, very clean.

The Ritz Carlton Berlin was probably the best hotel of the trip. The breakfast was stunning - only hotel I have ever been in that had fresh passionfruit for breakfast. However, it seems I was allergic to the body lotion as my face puffed up with a red rash and my face felt like sandpaper.

I was disappointed when we went to Red Square in Moscow. I was looking forward to seeing this huge big square that we have seen so many times on television, with rows and rows of tanks and armoured vehicles and rows and rows of soldiers marching through it, but on the day we were there, half of it was fenced off and some cossacks were practising horse riding and the rest of Red Square was covered with tents and stalls. Apparently, Red Square is hired out all the time to whom ever wants it, as they need the money. It's a shame because it is quite a stunning looking place.

The low lights and I mean LOW - the two pick pocket attempts on me on Athens. Despicable!

Posted by gaddingabout 16:24 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Berlin to Athens - Saturday, 20 September 2014

Up at 5.30 am and down for breakfast at 6.30 am which gave us plenty of time to be in the foyer at 8am for our transfer to the airport.  For the second day I have woken up with a skin irritation on my face.  Looks like I am allergic to something, but what?  Could be the passionfruit I ate for breakfast or the pain killers I have been taking for the muscle in my backside.  Who knows?  Anyway, it's not too bad, just a bit rough and puffy.

Our transfer to the airport was uneventful and quick.  We were at the airport at 8.20 am for a 10.45 am flight.  We found the check in desk and  were the first in line.  We had to wait until 9am until the counter opened.  Our bags were 5kgs overweight, and we had to pay 72.10 euros for overweight luggage.  Phil moaned, but too bad, it is what it is!

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Phil bought a bottle of Scotch and Gin to take to Athens.  He enquired about the amount he was allowed to take in to Greece and was told that each person was allowed 10 litres.  Can you imagine?  If everyone on the plane took 10 litres of alcohol on board, the poor thing wouldn't get off the ground!

The plane was a bit late arriving, so that meant that we were late boarding but we made up time and arrived in Athens at the right time - about 4.35 pm - clocks also have to be put forward one hour.

We had lunch on the plane and I was so hungry and it was really nice.  Mashed potato, carrots and two little meatballs in gravy.  Then cheese and biscuits and then chocolate biscuits.

When we picked up our bags, Phil's bag strap was missing.  We have had these since 1998 so he went back in to the baggage area and the staff went looking forward it, but couldn't find it.  He was sad.

Annetta and Makis were waiting at the airport and it was fabulous to see them.  Lots and lots of hugs and kisses.

We caught a taxi back to Annetta's house.  He was a maniac driver.  The highway was fabulous but he drove so fast, sometimes on the mobile and sometimes with no hands on the wheel!  Anyway, we arrived safely and settled in.

Annetta's house is lovely.  It is on the third floor and doesn't have a lift.  She had hired a man to carry our big bags up the stairs.  How thoughtful.  She has also put in an electric chair to take her up to the top floor.

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There are lots of rooms and passage ways and doorways, and a balcony that goes most of the way around, overlooking the street below.  It is very noisy, especially compared to our house, but this is what living in the middle of a city is like.

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Agi came over for a couple of hours and it was nice to see her again too.  She went back to her card games and at about 7pm, Annetta and Makis and Phil and I went downstairs for a walk - first to the supermarket for breakfast things and then to a taverna for dinner.  We had corgette balls, chips, salad, tzakaki, chicken souvlaki, meatballs and sausages.  It is nice to be eating Greek food again.

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Makis caught a taxi back to his home and we all went to bed.  We left our balcony doors open and it was SO noisy but we went to sleep.  Phase 3 of our holiday has begun.

Posted by gaddingabout 16:18 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Athens - Sunday, 21 September 2014

Happy birthday Phil

sunny 31 °C

Phil's 68th birthday.  Sunny and 31 degrees

What a night we had last night.  The street below was SO noisy.  How we slept, I just don't know.  I think I slept for a few hours and then woke when the garbos came to empty the bins at about 4am.  Then Phil started scratching around so I couldn't get back to sleep for ages, but I dozed off between 7 and 9am.  My face is still bad with my alergy and my eyelids are drooping too.  I took an anti histimine so hopefully the rash will go away.

I had my breakfast on the balcony, overlooking the street.  Annetta got up and put the washing machine on for me and now it is lunch time and Annetta is having her breakfast.  It's good, we are having a slow, easy day.  Washing, and catching up on rest.

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Agi and Makis arrived and Agi gave Phil a Melina Mercouri CD for his birthday and bought him a very tiny cake with a candle on it.  We lazed around for a couple of hours chatting and then decided to go for lunch.  It was 4 pm!

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We found a nice place that was just about out of food and had Greek meatballs and sauce, a Greek pasta thing and cheese slice and beans.  It was all lovely.  The cafes and bars are filled to overflowing with young people.  Don't know where all the people our age are.

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Agi left to attend a political rally with her cousin and the rest of us walked back to Annetta's and had coffee and a small biscuit at a cafe next door to her apartment.  We were intending to go out later for a pizza but as the night wore on, the lazier we became, so we had a G&T on the balcony overlooking the square and decided to have a light snack before going to bed.

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Happy 68th birthday Phil!

At about 9pm, very loud music started from a roof top not far away from us.  It was deafening and so monotonous.  It was like African music, there was no one singing and this incessant beat and noise, just went on and on.  We could hardly hear ourselves talk above the noise.  It was still going when I went to bed at midnight.   

Posted by gaddingabout 01:27 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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