We took the FLIX train to Berlin from Gotha; only because it was a direct train. As a cheap train it was OK, but we certainly like the Deutsch Bahn better, especially so, because we sit in 1st class when we can. Got to the very large Berlin HBF (main station) and stopped for coffee because our house was not ready. Then took a taxi to Charlottenburg; a lovely residential area. Lots of trees, schools and shopping. We were just down the street from a Penny Grocery store so we picked up a few things for breakfast and snacks. Nice little house, 2 bedroom, 2 bathrooms with showers, living room and full kitchen. We took advantage of the washing machine while we were there.
Day 2 – we decided to book a day tour around the city with a taxi that Valery found. It was a little small for 4 people, but we managed to squish inside. The driver spoke very good English and he was quite knowledgeable. We drove through the Kufurstendam (sp?) Street where all the designer stores were located and decided that we really didn’t need to come back there. Stopped at Checkpoint Charlie, where the signs would show that you were leaving the US Sector. This would have been where people crossed from east to west or reverse. Now, it really is only a small shed-like building with a couple of signs. I loved the fact that Macdonalds and KFC built their restaurants right next door. We drove through what used to be East Germany (GDR), which is now (30 years later) quite modern. Lots of new buildings and many that have been renovated. It has become a much visited and beautiful area to visit. At least the ones we saw. Of course, the ‘tourist areas’ are always well kept. There seemed to be quite a few small coffee shops and restaurants. We only saw a small part of the border wall. There is a memorial, which is about 1 km long, but our driver said it has lots of holes and graffitti; certainly a tourist destination. We did not stop, because mom did not want to see it. There was some anxiety on her part that caused bad memories because of what she went through. We totally understood. It is possible that this visit has caused a few panic attacks. Since we are done with the Gotha visit, she was perked up considerably. It was certainly emotional, especially when we left Gotha, knowing that we would not be visiting family again.
We continued our day around the city, and our guide took us to a building (an old palace) and onto the roof for an incredible view of the city. Our guide was very talkative and probably took 50 pictures of the four of us in various place. Now I have proof that we actually were here. Usually, I’m behind the lens and not in any photos. It was a great day and we all enjoyed it. He dropped Val and Nicole off at the Beer tasting tour, which they said was very tasty and then he very kindly continued to drive mom and I around for another 45 minutes. We got back to our house and then walked down the street to a Tapas Restaurant for dinner. Mom had never been to a restaurant like that. They even had her favorite, potato salad. Val and Nicole stopped for an Italian dinner after their beer tasting. The end of a good day.
Day 3 – Shopping Day. We added km’s to our feet on this day. First stop the Ritter Sport Chocolate Store. A huge store where you can buy any kind of chocolate that you want. Val created her own chocolate bar to take home. We went to Friedrich’s Street where we walked around and stopped at a few stores along the way. We stopped for lunch at nice restaurant. I think we were the only tourist there, it looked like a place where business people meet at lunch – perhaps we were a little underdressed. After we got back to Charlottenburg we decided to walk down to the shopping area about 3 blocks away. We stopped in at a Galerie (department store) to do a little shopping and then discovered an entire shopping plaza area outside. The weather wasn’t too bad so we continued on, stopped for coffee and … wait for it … cake again. I think I’m all caked out; we only have cake now and then, not every day like they seem to do here. Mom is in her glory, she loves her cake and coffee. And another day is done.
Day 4 – Last day in Berlin. We took a taxi to get to Potsdam. Val, Nicole and I went on a short River Cruise from Potsdam to admire the beautiful parks and palaces of the Hohenzollen Dynasty. About 90 minutes on the water, with coffee and Bailey’s to keep us warm. It was only 9 C today and windy. It was a relaxing ride with an English audio guide so we can understand what we see. Afterward we stopped at the “Peter Pane” restaurant for a burger. They had amazing burgers of any kind. Late lunch. No supper tonight. Headed back home on the train and got off in Charlottenburg station. We found out it was about a 15 minute walk back to our house. Probably should taken the train to begin with; 4 euros vs an Uber for 30 minutes. We had a great time in Berlin – there is so much to see.