We have passed through Germany several times in the last three years starting with
landing in Frankfurt for our first day in Europe. We have had delightful visits
with friends in Pentenreid, seen Oktoberfest, visited several ancient cities and
seen wonderful castles and countryside. But we had not been to the capital of Berlin.
We are headed to the home of some friends of our Dutch friends. We don't know what
kind of reception we'll get but we called ahead and they said to come on over to
the house. So we did. Our Dutch friends are due the next day and it is quite a
Our contact is Friedrich, a college student home for the summer. His parents welcomed
us and we unloaded stuff into our assigned bedroom. The next day Friedrich took
us on a tour of Berlin starting with a boat tour of the river past the government
buildings. That is not our boat but it was similar.
Then we went to the Brandenburg Gate and looked at the double row of cobblestones
that represents the location of the Berlin Wall.
We walked past the famous "Checkpoint Charlie" but it is now only a tourist trap!
Then it was off to see the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall, about 1.5
kilometers (1 mile) long. It is out in an industrial area near the old train station
and has no tourists around.
We walked all over Berlin and had a good time but Friedrich has long, and young,
legs and he walked ours off. But that was not a problem. The next day was a maintenance
day for the bike. We put new tires on the trailer and did an oil change for the
bike. Dirk worked on the trailer, Friedrich's father (a tire man by trade) broke
down the rims and mounted new tires, and I changed the oil.
There was quite a crowd around there all the time. Several people were on their
vacation time and others dropped by. Friedrich is in red, his father at the end,
his mother in yellow, Hetty in on the right and my camera was not wide enough to
get Dirk and Andy, the husband of their niece and a professional cook. Here we are
eating pig's knuckles (the elbow joint of a pig) sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. A
very traditional Berliner meal and very VERY good! Thanks Andy.
Out last day was spent at Spreewald. This is an area of wooded, swampy ground along
the river Spree. It was first settled nearly 700 years ago, but today is a tourist
and summer home area. Many of the homes are only accessible by boat. There are
about 300 of these tour boats in the 50 km. of canals here. We are here mid-week
and it is not too busy.
The boats are poled through the water by a man standing at the stern, like a Venice
gondolier except this guy's pole reaches the bottom to push against.
The canals interconnect and create "streets" with square blocks and intersections. There
are also lots of kayaks to rent and paddle yourself around. Better take a waterproof
map or you could be out there for days trying to find your way back to the proper
Along the way were several restaurants, beer gardens and B&B's. About halfway through
our two hour tour we stopped at a beer garden-souvenir shop and took a break.
That's another boat, I didn't get left behind!
The main reason Dirk and Hetty came to Berlin was to pick up our current load of
souvenirs. We had planned to go on to Holland and drop the load at their house but
they decided to visit their friends and pick them up from us. They have saved us
a thousand kilometers and three or more days that it would have taken us to deliver
them to Amsterdam. They came with a full trailer and left with an overfull trailer. We
had arrived with an overfull trailer and now have room for more souvenirs. Which
is good because we are now going to try to make it to Romania and Count Dracula's
castle, but we have many stops in between.
The first is in a German National Park region on the border with the Czech Republic
called Sächsisch-Böhmische Schweiz where we will get off the bike and do some hiking. It
is an area of towering rock formations.