Amazing Egypt

 

Egypt is all that you imagine, and more.  An incredible blend of ancient and modern and home to one of the truly great civilisations.  Unless you see it for yourself, it is hard to imagine the scale and splendour of it all.  And it’s safe.

 

We were lucky enough to see Egypt through the guidance of Sue and Helal, who live in the outskirts of Cairo overlooking the Pyramids of Giza.  To see the pyramids when you wake and again when the sun sets, and again when the sound and light show cranks up every night, was enough in itself.

 

But this was just a beginning.  We did all the other things we had dreamed of doing in Egypt, and a whole lot more.  In nine action-packed days we soaked up much of what the cradle of civilisation has to offer:

 

  •  The Cairo Museum, packed to the rafters with ancient historical objects, including the priceless treasures of Tutankhamun, mummies, artefacts and 1000’s of other wondrous items
  • The Islamic area of Cairo, the Christian or Coptic area, the Citadel including the Mohammad Ali Mosque and the Military Museum
  • We drove through the chaos of Cairo, a city that matches the population of Australia and saw the melding of cars, trucks, buses, sheep, pedestrians and donkeys and surprisingly weren’t able to witness a single accident.  They even park, fish and set up stalls on the massive bridge across the Nile!
  • We marvelled at the sights in Memphis, the old capital, and nearby Saqqara and were able to access rarely visited areas, thanks to Sue and some ‘baksheesh’ or bribe money, which lubricates the suffering economy
  • Ramses II

  • And we crossed the desert sands by camel early one morning, through the ‘back entrance,’ beating the limited tourists and having the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx to ourselves.  It was a magical experience!

We flew down to Aswan, site of the massive dam across the Nile River.  There we saw the dam and the unfinished obelisk.  But the two highlights were definitely the Nubian Village and the Temple of Philae.

For both of these we travelled by small boat with a guide.  The temple is remarkably well preserved, especially as it was moved stone by stone to higher ground by UNESCO, to avoid the flooding from the dam.  Unfortunately on the return journey, the outboard engine on the boat caught fire.  It was doused by the Nubian boatman, which prevented us having to jump into the heavily polluted water close to the shore.

 

Many of the Nubian people have also been relocated because of the dam and to visit one of their villages was a real pleasure.  The people were hospitable and their shops and houses were colourful and enchanting.  They shared food and drinks with us and happily posed for photos.  On the way there a young lad in a flimsy sinking boat hooked on to our boat and serenaded us in many languages.  He was, of course, rewarded for his efforts.

There was also an encounter with a 13 year old felucca boatman with a well-developed sales pitch.  In his efforts to acquire money from the foreigners he told of how tough things were.  He had two wives, and four children, two of whom were sick.  We are not sure if he even knew what he was saying, but it was an impressive speech delivered with conviction.  No doubt he will soon become a wealthy man.

Life is never dull in Egypt.

Mediterranean Cruise

 

We have just completed our first Mediterranean Cruise.  In fact it was the first cruise of our lives and we are already addicted.  Having spent the last 9 months arranging all of our own transport, meals, entertainment, tours and accommodation, it was luxurious and incredibly relaxing to have almost all of that done for us by the cruise company.  We will feature some of our ports of call in future blogs.  In this blog we will simply focus on the cruise itself.

 

 

The cruise we chose was Royal Caribbean’s ‘Grandeur of the Seas.’  It is a recently refurbished, 11-deck luxury cruise boat, which was built in 1996.  Everything was virtually new and it features a 6-storey atrium.  We chose a 12 day, 11 night cruise out of Venice, stopping in Kotor Montenegro, Athens Greece, Kusadasi Turkey, Bodrom Turkey, Mykonos Greece, Santarini Greece and Split Croatia, before returning to Venice.  We had only two days ‘at sea’, with the rest of the time docked in the exotic locations I have just mentioned.  You have a full day in each of the ports, which provides enough time to have a good taste of each.

 

 

Cruising the Mediterranean on this ship was like being on board a luxury floating hotel.  Some of our veteran fellow cruisers explained that there are bigger, more luxurious boats, but to us, after 9 months of budget travel, it was like a moving palace.  From the moment we sailed out of Venice (with 10 storey slow-motion views) to when we disembarked, we just soaked it all up.  By booking at the last minute we were able to score one of the last remaining ‘staterooms’ on board.  Our daily rate was no different than what you would pay for an average hotel.

 

 

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The amazing thing about a cruise though is that you not only receive your accommodation, but you also enjoy:

* unlimited food of outstanding quality

* live performances every night

* a huge range of other activities to choose from

* free travel

* interesting like-minded travellers to interact with

* a casino featuring Texas Holdem Poker

* two swimming pools

What more could you want?

On board we met some wonderful people and had an amazing, food-fuelled voyage.  The staff were all very friendly and couldn’t do enough for us.  The meals were stunning, the entertainment was of a high quality and our state room was brilliant.  Included in the nightly entertainment were aerialists, singers, dancers, jugglers and mentallists.  Royal Caribbean is a professional, well-oiled machine that knows how to satisfy its customers.   With 2500 passengers and nearly 800 crew, we were in awe of how they did everything so smoothly.

 

Sharing our dinner table every night were Jim from Chicago, Finlay and Margaret from Aberdeen and Brian from Leeds.  Plenty of laughs!  We also met Maria and Anton from Switzerland who gave us lots of great tips for cruising in North and South America next year, plus many others from around the world.  I am sure we will catch up with some of them down the track.

 

After 6 years of travelling outside of Australia by plane, train, bus, car, motor-bike, bicycle, elephant, tram and foot, all we could ask ourselves was: “Why didn’t we discover cruises earlier!?”

 

 

Paris Motor Show (etc)

Paris Motor Show

 

When we arrived back in Paris to see  our eldest daughter Kirsty, we were shocked to find that the entire city was virtually booked out.  The reason was the Paris Motor Show, held every two years, which attracts almost two million visitors over its 16 days.  We could only stay at our usual hotel for 3 days and needed to change to another for the other 4 days.  Kirsty and Daniel, who booked much earlier, scored a nicer apartment for less money.

 

We were able to spend time with Kirsty on 4 of those days.  She and her boyfriend Daniel were in France for a wedding and were criss-crossing their way around France to various destinations.  We caught up with Kirsty and Daniel at the Motor Show, the Louvre, a couple of dinners and for drinks for Daniel’s birthday.

 

The Louvre is unbelievable.  The building itself, a former palace, has to be seen to be believed.  I’m puzzled that it wasn’t good enough for Louis XIV, when he traded up to Versailles!!  Those royals can be fussy.  The collection is stunning and the day we visited  to see Mona, there must have been well over the average 30 000  visitors it receives each day.  If you go, print off your own tickets online and then you don’t have to queue!

The Mona Lisa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Paris Motor Show was even more impressive than the Mercedes Museum.  There were 9 display pavillions, with 6 of those packed full of the latest cars available on the planet.  Plus some amazing cars that aren’t available.  In spite of not having driven a car for the past 9 months, I felt the urge to splurge.  There were so many cars I wouldn’t mind driving.  I can’t think of any car manufacturer that wasn’t featured.  Some of the highlights for me included Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, Maserati, Bentley, Mercedes, Rolls-Royce, Infiniti and Mitsubishi.  (The latest Cadillac looks just like my (ex) Mitsubishi 380… great lines!)

 

 

Outside the Paris Motor Show, on the day we visited (October 9th) we were surprised to see an enormous number of French riot police.  Lots of areas were cordoned off and there must have been at least 500 police in their riot gear…. helmets, bullet-proof vests and shields.  Then there were vans, armoured trucks, plain clothes police and other vehicles.  They surrounded the venue, but the chief focus of their attention was a group of protesters holding signs.  It turns out they were sacked workers and supporters from Peugeot.  Apparently 8000 jobs were lost recently.  The Motor Show people feared that some of their cars may be damaged, especially after Ford cars were targeted with stickers and confetti on a previous day.  Peugeot had removed their concept car from display.  The protesters were given a dose of tear gas, but that was about it.

 

The bar where we had Daniel’s birthday drinks was the same bar where he had been photographed with his dad 7 years earlier.  And the same barman was there.

We also spent a day at the Pompidou Centre, which we missed last time in Paris because it closes on Tuesdays.  They have a lot of impressive art in their permanent and temporary exhibitions.  The whole building is a very interesting work of art, inside and out and the views over Paris from the top are wonderful.

Zidane the French soccer star head-butting an opponent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a room featuring the works of Picasso, some interesting film items and some incredible sculptures.  One sculptor donated his entire studio to the museum and it is faithfully reproduced and free to visitors.  A few days before we arrived they unveiled a giant sculpture of the French soccer star Zidane in the courtyard, doing his famous head-butt.  But it’s hard to go past the nudes.

We loved whizzing around on the Metro, with every station we came out at having a different vibe. Of course the Tour d’Eiffel was as always extremely popular, as were the markets to the north of the city and the interesting back streets of the Bastille area.

 

We love Paris and hope to return one day.

Zurich, Switzerland

Our path back to Paris to see Kirsty also took us through Switzerland, so we figured we may as well have a few days there to see how the country is functioning these days.  My most vivid memory of our last visit to Switzerland in 1983 (pre-kids) was of walking into a Swiss bank (no, not to access a secret account!) and being told by the teller that Australia had just beaten the USA for the first time in the America’s Cup Yacht Race!  This was a victory for the world, or so it seemed.  And Bob Hawke was famously all over TVs across the world telling people that anyone who sacked their employees for not turning up to work that day was a bum!

 

30 years on and Switzerland still had the appearance of an affluent country with a strong currency.  We stayed in Zurich for three days and had an enjoyable time.  But Zurich does lack the colour and vibrancy of many other European cities.

Just about everything is expensive, just like in Australia! In every place we have travelled in Europe we have been pleasantly surprised by how far our money has stretched.   The same basket of goods I had bought in Stuttgart a few days earlier would have cost me 3 or 4 times more in Zurich.

 

Our highlight in Zurich was catching up with our old friend Tina, who looked after us in Zurich 30 years ago.  She and her partner Urs took us out to dinner at a fabulous restaurant near the opera house. We dined on some delicious traditional swiss cuisine including some beautiful venison, accompanied by some Italian wine.  Urs and Tina  are great company and have also travelled to many interesting places and plan to do more travelling in the future.

 

The bus trip into Zurich was entertaining.  As well as taking in the sights of rural Switzerland we were part of amazing scenes at the border crossing out of Germany.  All of our passports were collected and several passengers were interrogated.  But then the funny part came when we were all finally summoned off the bus to have our passports returned.  One of the policemen accidentally dropped one of the passports and it fell through a grid into a fairly deep drain.  It took some Swiss ingenuity and a pair of tongs off the bus to finally recover it.

 

Walking and tramming around Zurich was fun.  There are lots of interesting little shops and alleyways to explore, with no shortage of watches, Swiss army knives, chocolates and other nicknacks on display.  Consumerism is alive and well and the locals love to wine and dine as well.  The area around the lake is beautiful too, especially on a blue sky day with some warmth in the sun.

 

 

 

 

 

On Tina’s recommendation we travelled up into the hills where we had stunning views over Zurich from the Restaurant de Waid.  In the vicinity of the hotel there was a deer park (previous night’s dinner?), forests and a great little community garden, where lots of locals have small huts and grow their own fruit and vegetables.

 

We were pleased to be able to revisit Zurich after an absence 30 years.

 

 

Germany again

Having had a great time in Berlin earlier in the month, we were back for a second dose of Germany on our way through to Paris to see Kirsty.  In between we have seen lots of great German countryside, by train, tram and bus.

 

We didn’t choose Stuttgart as our German ‘city of choice,’ but we had a great time there anyway, as we seem to do in every place we go.  Stuttgart just fitted in well geographically as we  needed to go via Vienna, Prague and Zurich. Stuttgart was almost totally ’booked out.’  They had their own version of Oktoberfest going on and the more famous one, in Munich, was only 230 kms up the road.  But we managed to find a great hotel, out of town but on the trainline near one of the Mercedes Benz factories.

 

 

 

The two highlights of our stay were attending Stuttgart’s version of the Oktoberfest, which goes for three weeks, and going to the Mercedes Museum.

 

 

The ‘real’ Oktoberfest was three or four hours away from where we were staying, so we decided it was too far to go for a day trip, when we had another, not quite as big, but almost identical, on our doorstep.  The local one was held at Bad Cannstadt, a suburb of Stuttgart.  It had all the same features as the one in Munich: rides, stalls, beer halls and entertainment.  Even though the people are not Bavarians, they still dress up in the same lederhosen and traditional dresses, which is a great sight and they have a lot of fun.

I am not sure why they need to go for three whole weeks, but the event sure attracts the people!  We went on the Saturday, so the crowd was massive, which made for an excellent German (Bavarian) atmosphere!  Everybody was wandering or sitting around having a great time.  It was quite similar to the Royal Adelaide Show in many respects but everything was kind of bigger and better.  Amazingly, admission is free, which I guess makes the people keep coming back for more.  Some of the rides were incredible: roller-coasters and all the usual stuff but some that went up to dizzying heights and many of which flipped the riders upside down!  Even smoke and mirrors!

And then there was the food and drink: beer everywhere, sausages of every description, gingerbread hearts, pretzels and food from other nationalities.  The beer halls have to be pre-booked and typically include your table, several litres of beer, entertainment and a roast chicken.  We were content just to wander around, soak up the atmosphere and see all the various characters within the grounds.  Everybody was in a chatty, festive mood and there were lots of photo opportunities.  Meanwhile, we tried some of the food and drinks on offer.  Among the funniest sights were groups having their ‘buck shows’ or ‘doe shows.’  One particular group of guys took their inspiration from the movie ‘Hangover II,‘ complete with Mike Tyson face tattoos.  The groom had set tasks that he had to complete as well.  Fun times.

The Mercedes Museum was fantastic.  Housed in a spectacular eight storey building, it featured stunning vehicles from every era, right back to the invention of the car.  The collection must be worth millions.  There was a great time-line featuring all of the main events in world history alongside the vehicles from each era.  Among our favourites were the sports cars, some of the early vehicles, limousines and a range of Mercedes formerly owned by celebrities.  This featured Diana’s car, Ringo’s, various world leaders’ cars, even a Pope mobile.  The museum has already had almost a million visitors.  Highly recommended.

Every second person in Stuttgart seems to drive a Mercedes as well.  I guess a lot of them work for Mercedes and have staff cars or heavily discounted models.  Throw in the BMWs, Porsches, VWs and Audis and there are a lot of German vehicles on the roads.  Enough to save the Greek, Spanish, Italian and Irish economies!  But no match on the Mitsubishi 380.  Brrrm, brrrrm, brrrrm.

Prague, Czech Republic

 

Prague is a wonderful city and the word seems to be spreading fast.  Largely untouched by the devastation of World War II, it is now starting to get increasing numbers of tourists.  It is interesting, reasonably priced and there is plenty to see.

 

We started off our time in Prague with a walking tour, as we did in Berlin.  Our guide this time wasn’t up to the quality of the brilliant guy we had in Berlin, but the tour gave us our bearings and introduced us to the main areas of Prague.  It also gave us an insight into Prague’s long and amazing history.  We continue to be intrigued by the events of European history.  The current structure of Europe could have easily been very different with the loss of a battle or war here and there!  And you wonder too how different countries like the Czech Republic would look now if the Iron Curtain hadn’t been in place for so many years.

 

Our tour also included a one hour cruise on the Vitava River, from which we saw many of the city’s sights from a different perspective. The old Charles Bridge is a stunning river crossing, considering it was built way back in 1357.  You have to marvel at the engineering skills of 7 centuries ago.

 

 

We did a lot of walking around Prague, as we tend to do everywhere.  Like many European cities it is not flat, so walking up to the Prague Castle takes some effort, especially when you have already done Wenceslas Square, Old Town, New Town, the Jewish Quarter and the Charles Bridge area before you start up!  We were amused to see one middle-aged foreigner, accompanied by two women, who was sitting exhausted by the edge of the road and refusing to budge.  Prague is a fantastic place to just stroll around, but this guy wasn’t going anywhere else until his female companions, one of them clearly his wife, told him what the ‘plan’ was!  He wasn’t strolling around without a plan! A public servant perhaps?

 

 

Old Town Square

 

 

There are lots of great little lanes to explore around Prague as well.  Cafes, shops and restaurants are everywhere.  They have lots of great little items you could buy too, if you had the urge.  But our cases are already full.  And I am always surprised at how many Europeans/others you see relaxing with their first beer at 10 o’clock in the morning.

 

 

 

 

 

Another highlight was a trip to the Museum of Communism.  It is run by Americans so a few of the captions may be a little biased politically, but there is no questioning the authenticity of the photos, artefacts and movie footage on show.  Well worth a visit!  We loved Prague and you will too!  On a related note, the only English TV Channel we had in our hotel recently, was a Russian one.  It was actually very good, but gave a totally different perspective to the one we usually see on CNN or the BBC.  There were hints of propaganda, but all subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) delivered by experts from the west.  Interesting, entertaining, punchy, informative and refreshing.

 

 

Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava, Slovakia, just over the border from Austria, is a great place to visit.  We did it as a side-trip from Vienna and we weren’t disappointed.  Like many of the cities in the former ‘eastern block,’ Bratislava is benefitting from an increased number of tourists since the wall came down and Europe began opening up again.

Austrian rail company OBB do special deals, which are even cheaper than the bus companies.  It is a picturesque trip through lush green countryside and you are only just settling into the trip when you arrive.  The whole trip from central Vienna, via the south station (Sudbahnhof) takes less than two hours.

The ‘Old City’ is the place to go.  We could have taken advantage of free local transport, included in the return fare, but it’s a pleasant walk down the hill from the railway station and you get a closer look at the city on the way down.

 

In the old city itself there are dozens of wonderful old buildings and the city has a great feel to it.  As with many European cities, it is hard to imagine it without the tourists.  It would be very quiet, lacking in atmosphere and all the restaurants and cafes would struggle to survive.  Bratislava is the perfect size to wander around at a leisurely pace, take in all the sights, but still have time for a meal and a drink or two.

 

 

 

 

The hike up to the old castle is quite steep, but worth the effort.  Views from the top are impressive and the exercise won’t kill you, although in the case of many of the river boat ‘cruisers,’ I am not so sure!  There were a few giant vessels visiting on the day we were there.  Some of the ‘cruisers’ walked through town in giant groups, while others split up or took advantage of the cute little passenger vehicles that carried people to all the main sites.

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed the whole feel of the city.  You are spoilt for choice in terms of restaurants and cafes and they are noticably cheaper than their counterparts in western Europe.  Often the set menu is the way to go because you can enjoy two or three courses for the price of one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And people-watching on a gorgeous afternoon, while sipping an iced coffee in front of an ancient historical building and  listening to a busker is always an enjoyable pastime.

The Sound of Music Tour, Salzburg

Let’s start at the very beginning…………..

Since seeing the movie as kids way back in 1965, The Sound of Music has been with us.  I wouldn’t mind a euro for every time my mother watched the movie…. it probably would have paid for the tour! We made inquiries about seeing all the locations on our last visit to Salzburg 30 years ago, but nobody seemed to know much about it then.

Things have changed.  Now the tourist bus companies are all over it.

We chose to do ours with Panorama Tours and our guide did a great job.  She looked the part, knew her stuff, including the songs, but had a slightly annoying voice.  We weren’t sure if she was trying to impersonate Julie Andrews, or Gretel, but the voice was more grate than great. 

Our group was blessed with a stunning day.  The colours of the sky, meadows and the lakes were so amazing that they looked enhanced!  And the hills really were alive with the sound of music.  I thought I would much rather be in a field than an abbey.

Abbey where Maria did her training.

 

Here are a few of our favourite things……..

 

 

Mirabell Gardens where many scenes were filmed and the fountain that they danced around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16 going on 17 ????

 

 

 

 

 

The tour went for four hours and took in many of the sites in Salzburg and then out into the countryside where the scenery was spectacular.

 

 

 

The church where Maria and Captain Von Trapp were married.

Vienna

 What a beautiful city! Our stay in Vienna was fabulous.

Studies have placed Vienna among the top cities in the world to live and it is easy to see why!  The Austrians take great pride in their city.  It oozes opulence and culture.

We spent four days on our own in the heart of the city, near Westbahnhof, which is a great area to stay in.  Our hotel was near the railway station, the main shopping street and only a nice walk away from the museum quarter, the Danube River and other city attractions.

 

 

After travelling on the overnight bus from Berlin, we did our usual trick of going for a long walk around the city, to get our bearings, see what the city had to offer, before checking in to our hotel.  We loved the feel of the place.  The old section made us feel like we were in a fairy tale.

Austria is in the fortunate position of having only a small population but millions of tourists.  With all the VAT streaming in, the money spreads a  long way.  Austria’s population is only 8 million, but approximately 5 million tourists visit Schonbrunn castle and its gardens every year!

 

One highlight of our stay in Vienna was a visit to the opera.  This was the first time we had dressed up on the whole trip, but we will be needing to look flash on a few occasions on our two upcoming cruises, so we updated our wardrobes appropriately.  Even the local beggars noticed the change!  Our opera was Don Carlos, sung in Italian.  It was a great cultural experience. We appreciated having the small screens in front of us, which translated the songs into English. There were a couple of strong singing performances and although we aren’t opera buffs it was quite entertaining and the venue was impressive.

 

 

During our time in Vienna we also stayed with our friends Michael and Helen at their apartment just out of the city.  We spent the weekend with them  and they looked after us extremely well.  Highlights included an Italian dinner, brunch at the markets, chatting, the last quarter of the Collingwood v West Coast final on live stream (very Viennese), a nearby pub, but particularly our visit to the Schonbrunn Palace and gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

Schonbrunn is unbelievable.  We missed it last time we were in Vienna, 30 odd years ago and it has to be at the top of your list of things to do in Vienna.  The palace itself is stunning and is a strong indicator of the former wealth of the Austro-Hungarian empire.  It’s great that it is open to the people.  You pay to tour the castle but you can wander the extensive grounds for free.  There are fountains, a zoo, a specially built Roman ruins, a giant pigeon coop, a labyrinth, a forest, the former dining room on the hill overlooking the castle and gardens, and so on.  You could spend several visits and still not do it justice.  Wonderful.

Then we had a surprise reunion with our lovely Aussie friends, Rosie & John Field from Burnside SA who had just arrived after visiting Poland and the Czech Republic. We had lots of fun sitting outside the Austrian Restaurant listening to some wonderful local singers.

 

We enjoyed great autumn weather in Vienna and were amazed at all the locals sitting out enjoying the sunshine with a coffee or a drink.  Vienna isn’t standing still though.  Many cranes dotted the skyline, including a huge number out near the Sudbahnhof, or south railway staion.  There looked to be a shopping centre, station infastructure, accommodation and a new arena all under construction.  A great city and also well located for accessing other countries nearby, which many do!

 

Ich bin ein Berliner

Loved Berlin.  So much history and it’s very accessible, with walks, talks and museums everywhere.  Usually we do our own thing in just about every city in the world and would generally recommend the same policy to others.  But Berlin is one city where there are lots of experiences served up to you that you should take advantage of.

 

Number one on the list is the ‘Walking Tour of Berlin.’  Our guide, Edo, took us on a four hour walking tour of the city.  I have been put off tours previously by a couple of shockers, but this one sounded enticing enough to risk it again.  And we weren’t disappointed!  Edo, a Dutch guy, delivered a fantastic package.  He was interesting, entertaining, even funny!  The talk was really well paced and took us around to some wonderful places of interest along the way.

 

 

 

Brandenburg Gate

 

Edo had the large group eating out of his hand.  East Berlin, West Berlin, the Berlin Wall, now protected by a fence, Brandenberg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, some stunning architecture.  What an amazing city Berlin is.  And to think it was almost totally destroyed in WWII.  If you go to Berlin, and you should, do this tour!

 

 

 

 

 

Checkpoint Charlie

We visited two other amazing museums during our visit: ‘The Story of Berlin’ and ‘The Jewish Museum.’  There are still others but after three sessions we both felt we had had enough war, destruction, murder and injustice to last us a while.  The Story of Berlin tells the complete story of Berlin brilliantly.  It takes you through a series of over 20 rooms, with each room highlighting another period or theme.  I loved it!  But it’s still hard to believe that the damn wall stood for 28 years, from 1961 -1989.

 

 

 

 

 

The Jewish Museum too was well worth a visit.  It’s ironic that it has already had more than 7 million visitors, more than the number of Jews killed by Hitler in his final solution.  The poor Jews have been persecuted throughout history!  The museum isn’t as shocking or confronting as a concentration camp visit, but gets the message across in more subtle ways.  The architecture of the building is pretty amazing, as is a lot of the architecture in Berlin generally.  If you aren’t familiar with a guy named Schinkel, who is singularly responsible for many of Berlin’s architectural wonders, check him out!

We also visited a couple of markets around Berlin.  Antiques, nick-nacks, food, clothes, books and toys were all on display and Jenny and I both enjoyed browsing.  Sue and David would have loved them, with all the features of a French vide-grenier, but classier and more depth.  We also cruised out to the Berlin Olympic Stadium to see where Jesse Owens and Hitler featured back in 1936.

Trabant - old East German car

 

 

 

 

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It was great to see that heaps of the old East German Trabi cars have been kept for visitors to look at.

Our hotel in former East Berlin, looked after us superbly.  The fruhstuck (breakfast) buffet kept us going for most of the day! All in all a great stay in a city that must be high up on anyone’s list of places to see in Europe.

 

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