July 22

    Berlin is big. Buses, trams, subways and trains move people very efficiently, but not necessarily to tourist attractions. 

    So we walked . . . a lot. On our first day we found four Starbucks.  Over three days we stopped at Checkpoint Charlie and pieces of the Wall, walked through the Holocaust Monument and the Brandenburg Gate, visited three art museums and three churches, and learned the locations of lots of bus stops.

    Throughout the early 1900s, Germany had been part of a three-country archeological team that unearthed ancient cities in Iraq, and until the 1960s their finds were divided among the teams before Iraq put a stop to that. As a result, one of the museums we visited had huge permanent installations of stone temples from Babylon, Assyria, and the Roman city of Miletus.

In another museum we added four more Monets to those we have seen; but at still another on our list, tickets were completely sold out for July.  

    But our favorite museum, on our last trip into the city, was the DDR Museum, detailing life in East Germany while the Wall was still in place. It had everything: an interrogation room, a prison cell, a mass-produced apartment, a car, tv shows produced by the government, hundreds of items from everyday life for infants to adults, children’s balls shaped like hand grenades and evidence of a government struggling to provide for its trapped population with few resources to export to pay for it all. It was very well done, very popular and pretty awful.

    Potsdam was on our list of paces to visit and when Susan looked carefully at the map she realized our campground was closer to that city than to Berlin. Challenged, she looked for a bus going in that direction. What she found instead was a ferry that would take us from the little town four bus stops down the road, across the lake, to a train that would take us to Potsdam in 10 minutes. We tested this coming home from the city, thereby avoiding one of those eternal hot bus rides in favor of a fairly cool 20-minute train ride, an even cooler 15-minute ferry ride, another 20 minutes sitting in a biergarten . . . and a puny 5-minute bus ride back to the campground. On both ends of the ferry ride are little summer tourist towns. Why didn’t we learn this earlier? It was even all covered by our three-day bus ticket! Susan plans to rewrite the English “How to get into the city” sheet that was given to us when we arrived at the campground and leave it with the manager.