Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Germany: Day IV (Berlin, Potsdam)

Saturday, June 18th:

Schloss Sanssouci (Sanssouci Palace):

            Today was a really sweet day, and Jen and I again got to see some incredible stuff! We woke up very early to try to fit two separate half-day adventures into one day; one to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum, and the other to Potsdam. I had been gifted two tickets to visit the summer palace of Frederick the Great called Schloss Sansoucci for my graduation from Cornell University in May. The tickets were given to me by two German family friends of mine, Annike and Marcel Henrix, who we will be staying with for a night in Aachen, Germany on Sunday. After grabbing a quick muffin and some juice at the train station, we realized that it would be too difficult to fit the two trips into one day, as they were both in opposite directions of one another, and we already had the tickets for Potsdam. Sachsenhausen is a former Nazi concentration camp, the closest one to Berlin, which is now a museum and memorial to the Holocaust. I guess we will save that for another time.

Berlin Wall Graffiti Art at the East Side Gallery:

            Instead of going to Sachsenhausen, we took the train to Museum Island, and had an early breakfast on a bridge overlooking the Spree River next to the Bode-Museum. We then made our way into the East Berlin part of the city to check out a really cool site: the East Side Gallery. This gallery is a 1.6 kilometer long still-standing portion of the Berlin Wall that has been covered in graffiti-style art by world renowned artists dedicated to peace. We walked along the wall for almost an hour, admiring one of the world’s largest open-air art galleries, before moving on. We had wanted to check out the Neues Museum next, the newest of Berlin’s state museums, where the famous bust of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti is held. We went back there and tried to go inside, however visitors must sign up for a time slot and we opted to go to Potsdam early instead.

St. Nicholas Church in Potsdam:

            We took the twenty-five minute regional express train to Potsdam station and decided to walk through the historic town towards the massive Schloss Sansoucci Park and to find some lunch. We quickly realized, however, that it was a half-hour walk just to the historic downtown area. We walked by tons of buildings adorned with sculptures and golden leaf artwork before we arrived at a pretty little street next to Potsdam’s version of the Brandenburg Gate. Here we sat down for a walking break and both devoured a Bratwurst with a Berliner Kindl Pilsner to wash it down with from a cute little hot dog stand. We continued our walk another fifteen minutes up the hill to the Schloss Sansoucci Palace.

Inside Schloss Sanssouci (Sanssouci Palace):

            We had a 2:30pm entrance ticket, so we walked around the grounds a little before entering the palace with an audioguide. The palace was magnificent—Frederick the Great had an affinity for fruit and grape-growing, so that theme is exemplified all over his summer palace. From there we walked towards another palace called the Orangerie when it started raining. We hid from the thunderstorm and downpour until it let up a little, then ran to go inside the palace to tour it while it rained some more. The Orangerie palace was particularly dark but well-preserved, and visitors are required to wear slippers inside to not mark up the beautiful parquet floor.

The Orangerie in Park Sanssouci:

            We dodged some more raindrops and walked some more towards the next palace on the property, the New Palace at Sansoucci. While walking through the park we also passed some notable regal buildings called the Dragon House and the Belvedere on the Klausberg. We had a fairly short visit in the New Palace, because it closed at 6pm, however we were able to quickly see just about all of it. Good thing, because the main hall of this palace was my favorite of the day, as the wall is covered with thousands of sea shells arranged in different patterns. Some of the shells even show different sea monsters of old mythology! Following our tour around the New Palace we walked back through the park, passing another palace called Charlottenhof before wandering back by way of the Chinese House. It started to rain again, so we went back to downtown Potsdam for some dinner at a restaurant called Gastmahl Des Meeres, where Jen and I both had some Potsdamer Pils-Rex beers with an assorted dish of pan-fried seafood and potatoes including salmon, plaice, and eel.

The New Palace at Sanssouci:

            Our plan for the night was to go out in Berlin, but after a day of walking close to twelve miles, literally all day long, we were so exhausted when we got back to our hotel room that we crashed early on tired and sore legs. I had wished we had more time to conquer the city of Berlin, as it is so massive, but I guess we should leave things to future trips!

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