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Germany (east): the great beauty


For various commitments and little availability? economic, the last two trips to Provence and Bulgaria were only four days. This year, however, we leave for a whole week and by a lucky coincidence we can also find excellent rates for Berlin, with departure and return on Saturday! (Those who go after low cost companies know well that to contain their spending, maybe you have to leave at 10 pm on Wednesday and return at 5 am on Tuesday!).
This time we leave in four: Sergio & Letizia with Morena and Giorgia (aged 12 and 9); on Monday Giuseppe & Sonia will join us with Lara and Emma (peers and friends of ours).

1 day

1? day - Saturday 16 June
Itinerary: Catania? Berlin Schonefeld? Hotel (km 23)

We leave Catania on time and arrive in Berlin Schonefeld at 20.35pm. Before getting off the plane, I recommend that the girls put on their jackets. Why? we are in the north of Germany and surely there will be? a little? fresh! Freschetto ??? You know when Tot? and Peppino are wrapped up to go to Milan? We didn't have a bear hat but our clothing was definitely not adequate for the 27? of Berlin! Have we already? dined on the plane with some sandwiches and we go to the terminal distributor to take only a couple of bottles of water, do I have some change in my pocket? but what change, the credit card does it take: 3? each bottle !! I think it's a theft but you know it costs more at the airport?
We then pick up our car at the Enterprise (9-seater Ford Transit at € 476 for a week), and head to our hotel (A&O Kolumbus quadruple? 60). Shall we get a couple of bottles for the night? maybe in the hotel they cost less? 3? each !! At the reception they give us the sheets: mah! maybe they are more? for every eventuality. But no, the single beds are not ready and we have to make them ourselves (we have just arrived in Berlin and it is already on the box !!). Also under the mattress of the bunk bed c ?? a forgotten sock who knows? from who! Poor us.





2 day

2? day? Sunday 17 June
Itinerary: Berlin? Potsdam - Berlin (km 91)

The day today? dedicated to the visit of Potsdam then after loading the luggage, we leave for the Glienicker Br? cke bridge which triumphantly marks the beginning of the city? UNESCO heritage. Let's go immediately to visit the Alten Markt with the evangelical church of St. Nicholas and the old town hall. Then to the park of Sanssouci with the magnificent summer residences of Federico Guglielmo: not stupid the guy, he was really good !! For lunch we have sandwiches prepared in the hotel, so we buy some bottles in one of the kiosks in the park: guess their price? Also thanks to the Sunday closure of all supermarkets, on balance we spent more? of 30? of water in a little more? of a day !!! Something we will recover later why? in the cost of drinks in plastic bottles (including water) c ?? a deposit of 25cent which is returned when you return the vacuum to the supermarket!
There are other historic buildings to see in Potsdam, but we are tired, so? before returning to Berlin we go to see only the Nauener Tor: what can I say, if it were original it might not be too bad, but so? rebuilt d? the impression that it is made with Lego bricks!
Arrived in Berlin? early for dinner, then we go to Charlottenburg castle: I go down only for? why? the girls fell asleep in the meantime. Good dinner at L? Osteria in Breitscheidplatz: the prices of the courses are in line with ours; what even here not? on line ? the price of water: but can you? pay 5,80? a 0,75l bottle of water? yes, you can? !! Finally tomorrow? Monday and before doing anything we will look for an open Lidl to stock up on water !!
On Sundays, all hotels in Berlin offer a great discount on the normal price and therefore a quadruple room at the elegant Hotel Lindemann? S will cost 59? instead of 120 !! Alas ?, the discount does not extend to the breakfast that we pay in full: 44 ?.



3 day

3? day? Monday 18 June
Itinerary: Berlin? Tegel? Sachsenhausen? Lubeck (km 302)

The girls want to see the zoo (family ticket 41?). Nice but I expected better: first of all the entire feline pavilion? under renovation and therefore no tigers, lions or panthers, isn't there ?? not even a cat by mistake! The water of the various lakes? almost always dirty until it becomes stagnant in some cases, and some enclosures are empty. On the other hand, the arctic penguin pavilion with lots of snow is positive; can you? also enter an enclosure where various poultry animals such as dwarf goats, rabbits and ponies roam free (they can be caressed and fed with seeds and feed from a special distributor); and above all the highlight of the zoo: the beautiful Panda Garden (much requested by Morena) in a bright red Chinese pagoda style.
Sonia, Giuseppe, Emma and Lara arrive today at 16,35pm at Tegel airport (8km from Berlin) and we are preparing to welcome them like VIPs: well? almost? in a recycled A4 sheet we quickly scribble "Willkommen Sonia und Familie". Beautiful surprise effect with irrepressible laughter to tears! Who knows? what people around us will have thought!
Finally reassembled and refreshed, we go to pick up the van, but we have just overtaken the parking time and we have to pay 10? for two hours!
After half an hour on the highway we arrive at the village of Oranienburg to visit the small but interesting concentration camp of Sachsenhausen. I open a parenthesis: the much vaunted German motorways efficient and without speed limits? they are not here; indeed the very busy Berlin-Hamburg? a whole succession of construction sites and narrowings that compared to making the Salerno-Reggio is a walk. Then off to Lübeck where we have dinner in a McDonald? S near the Ibis Budget (a triple + half of another double room 85? And breakfast 26?). It rains in bursts and we therefore give up the evening visit to the center. Too bad, we'll make up for it tomorrow.



4 day

4? day? Tuesday 19 June
Itinerary: Lübeck? Travem? Nde? Schwerin - Berlin (km 335)

The sky ? cloudy but for the moment it is not raining and we find parking right next to the? Holstentor (here the parking prices are much lower than in Berlin). The girls together with their mothers have fun making stars and other geometric figures, lying on the beautiful green lawn in front of the ancient city gate, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What do you say Giuseppe, shall we leave the girls here to play? (and especially wives?)
We go up with the lift (9? Per family) on the observation platform of the bell tower of San Pietro. From the top of its 50 meters the view over the city? sweeps 360 ?: photos, photos, photos? The visit continues from the Marktplatz to the beautiful pedestrian street of Breite Stra? And up to the thirteenth-century hospital of Santo Spirito. We return to the base with a pleasant walk along the Trave river. A restaurant with Turkish cuisine (from Al?) Attracts us with its specialties? and we sit down: sar? why? we are the only customers or maybe why? he knows our language well enough, but Al? starts talking and never ends it anymore: Al? don't bother, but we are here to eat not to know the story of your life !! Search for? to be forgiven with some homage: an unlikely Turkish orange soda with the scent of jasmine; two apocalyptic Turkish sodas with the smell of jasmine? since that day I HATE jasmine !!! And still hot tea to digest and chocolates for the girls.
The program now includes a visit to Schwerin but at the request of Giuseppe, today's driver, we make a small detour to the north-east to the maritime citadel of Travem? Nde to see the Baltic Sea: after all it's only 18km what could possibly happen? an orange flash where the limit? 60km / h makes us swear, but now the omelette? done: on our return expect a nice fine for speeding ?! Sigh!
After a few photos in Travem? Nde we take the road back to Schwerin where we park next to the enchanting Pfaffenteich lake. From our position we can see the buildings of the historic center, with the gigantic bulk of the cathedral, which are reflected on the placid lake creating fabulous landscapes: the many photographs taken are worthy of any photo contest !! The real gem of Schwerin, though? the historic center (already worth a visit for this alone) but the homonymous castle built in French Renaissance style on an islet of Lake Schwerin. Now ? the seat of the parliament of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. We visit the Orangery immediately behind the castle and also the gardens and the park on a second small island connected by a bridge. Many squawking ducks, some with offspring in tow, willingly accept a bit? of food: needless to say that the girls also have a lot of fun doing somersaults and wheels on the manicured lawns.
We arrive in the late evening at the A&O Kolumbus hotel (the one of the first night) where we will stay again tomorrow. Time to check in and go up to 5? floor where our room? the usual one with a bunk bed, but that Giuseppe & C.? much more? beautiful: a mini-apartment with two double bedrooms and designer furniture, they also have a small soundproofed room with a state-of-the-art stereo system and ergonomic armchair. Gius? facimu at cangiu stationed? - You po? scurdari !! (for those unfamiliar with Sicilian: Dear Giuseppe, would you like to change your room? Dear Sergio, your proposal tempts me, but reluctantly I decline the offer). Good night.

5 day

5? day? Wednesday 20 June
Itinerary: Berlin

Whole day dedicated to visiting Berlin so? we buy the family day ticket directly at the reception that allows us to take all public transport (at a cost of 20? 4 adults with children are included). Our hotel? very close to the tram stop that takes us to Alexanderplatz from where our tour (de force) of the Mitte district begins. Then the Marienkirke church, the nearby monument to Marx and Engels, Dom and Museuminsel, the old Synagogue, Galeries Lafayette, Gendarmenmarkt with the twin churches Deutscher and Franz? Sischer Dom.
The brand Va? Piano identifies a chain of premises in the middle? road between a real Italian restaurant and a take away: quick and all in all good meal and run to take the metro towards Checkpoint Charlie. There are only three stops but we start talking and only Giorgia notices and warns us that we have arrived. I remember the following thirty seconds as flashbacks from a tragicomic film: panic? Shall we run down? pi? fast men? then the girls? then Sonia? then? do the doors close? Does Letizia stay on the train? what to do? Shall we follow you on the next train? or? you better come back? Frightened Giorgia and Morena ask me if they will ever see their mother again: do not worry, girls, the dyed grass never dies !! Fortunately c ?? field and we give you instructions for your return. At the opening of the compasses we welcome you too in Vip style: well? almost? in a recycled A4 sheet we scribble quickly? Willkommen Letizia? !!
All ? well what ends well and after the classic photo at Checkpoin Charlie we go to Potsdamerplatz, then the Holocaust Memorial, the Brandenburg Gate and for 20,15 we are in line in front of the Bundestag (we booked the free visit on the parliament website German). The panoramic view from the terrace is beautiful and the ascent on the spiral walkway that leads to the top of the glass dome designed by Norman Foster is also exciting.
We are very tired so we just take some pizzas for dinner and go back to the Kolumbus.

6 day

6? day? Thursday 21 June
Itinerary: Berlin? Lutherstadt Wittenberg (km 199)

The East Side Gallery, close to the Spree River,? the part of the wall pi? long remained in Berlin after 1989: there are some sections of the wall scattered along the border that divided the city in two, but here the Berliners have left about 1,3 km as a memorial. Several artists and writers from all over the world then decorated it in the 90s. ? a whole series of images that arouse contrasting emotions: ranging from psychedelic and colorful images to sections decorated only in shades of gray; settings of daily life in a communist GDR contrast with dramatic scenes with the many desperate people killed while trying to climb over the wall (even if the context is completely different, Guernica reminded me of Picasso). A must see! L? near c ?? me too? Oberbaumbr? Cke which was one of the 13 passageways between the east and west areas.
At the explicit and very insistent request of Lara and Morena we reach the Hard Rock Caf? in Berlin where for the modest sum of 26 ?, we buy the classic white t-shirt with the brand. In truth? in the stalls it is practically identical at less than 10 ?, but this? original?
Before leaving Berlin for good to go to Wittenberg, we stop at Charlottenburg castle to let Sonia and Giuseppe admire it (the girls are not interested at all because in the meantime it has started to rain).
Wittenberg? indissolubly associated with Martin Luther so as to boast the name of Lutherstadt, for the record Luther? born in Eisleben but? here he preached and published his 95 theses on the Reform of the Church. Before diving into the historic center, let's visit the curious Hundertwasserschule, the famous school built by the visionary Viennese architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser (search his works on Google). A stone's throw from the center c ?? also a delightful little zoo. Luther's famous theses are written on the bronze portal of the medieval schloss church. This little town? ? a gem (as Giuseppe points out) but I advise you to get there early why? at 18 the shops close and, not even there was a curfew, the city? empties and around is not there ?? pi? nobody!!
Youth the holiday is ending and we have not yet tried the local cuisine: we find a couple of typical trattorias but they inform us that they are about to close? but how ? possible, it's only 21pm !! The only one open late (closes at 23pm)? an Italian restaurant whose name I can't remember.
We have not found a place for both families in any hotel, so this evening we will sleep separately, we at the Kajute hotel (quadruple 95? And if we wanted breakfast it was another 50 ?!). Giuseppe & family at the Tannenspitze hotel (? 110 including breakfast) a charming Bavarian-style villa about 5km from the center. Unfortunately we find everything closed and dark, and even the landlady who has to give us the keys is not found. We finally manage to track her down on her cell phone but understand each other? impossible: she does not speak n? english n? French? and for us German? Arabic! After twenty minutes this lady appears, pleasant as a snake bite, looking at us from the top of her Teutonic stature like annoying flies on a cake. A first look at the 80's furniture in the breakfast room makes us understand that? certainly a nostalgic of the GDR, perhaps even a former secret agent of the Stasi! The greeting ? poignant why? we're not sure we'll see them the next morning? guys lock yourself and do not open for any reason !!
Gius? now you would like to change your room right?
The next morning they will also tell us that they slept in clothes why? there was cat hair everywhere!

7 day

7? day? Friday 22 June
Itinerary: Lutherstadt Wittenberg? Leipzig - Dresden (km 234)

We move to Leipzig to visit the entirely pedestrianized historic center. This city? ? it was a pleasant surprise: big enough to offer you all the services but cozy and livable, on a human scale. There are several things to see: the church of San Tommaso where a certain Johann Sebastian Bach held the position of Cantor et Director Musices. The composer? buried inside the church and? commemorated by a large statue. Unfortunately, the Altes Rathaus on the Marktplatz? under renovation. Ah! I forgot, in a kiosk there? close we finally had the first (and only) close encounter with German cuisine: sandwiches with sausage, sauerkraut and fries? better than nothing?
Also noteworthy is the Madler passage: this is a covered commercial gallery, type Umberto I in Naples, where in the Auerbachs Keller restaurant on the lower floor, Goethe ambient? a scene from his Faust.
By car we go to see the monument built in 1913 for the centenary of the Battle of the Nations commemorating the decisive challenge in the war of liberation against Napoleon.
We arrive in Dresden late and decide to go and immediately see the Gl? Serne Manifaktur cio? the futuristic Volkswagen factory: all glass and metal panels with sinuous lines, it seems more? similar to a spaceship built for the set of a science fiction movie.
How about if we go to a nice typical restaurant of the place? Is it raining a bit? and we are tired, we see the Olympos restaurant that seems to be right for us and we sit down? on the men? are there souvlaki, moussaka, tzatziki? mmh? don't they look like German dishes? maybe we were wrong (maybe), of course? a Greek restaurant! At least dinner? good. Let's go to sleep what? better (A&O Hauptbahnhof quadruple? 66).

8 day

8? day? Saturday 23 June
Itinerary: Dresden? Moritzburg - Berlin Schonefeld (km 187)

Known as the Florence on the Elbe because of the many historic buildings in its center, World War II also left deep wounds in Dresden: only after the end of communism? reconstruction has begun and many construction sites are still open. Let's spend a while? of time in a nice street playground to reach the historic center. The gray and cold day does not frighten our heroes, at least those more? fearless and determined: Letizia and the girls prefer the warmth of a shopping center to churches, squares and monuments. There are only three left to brave the bad weather, and an annoying drizzle is added to the cold. Sonia shelters herself with her gray hood, I shelter myself with my blue hood and Giuseppe? mingle his jacket does not have a hood and his hair is now a vague memory: Gius? put the scotch on our head cos? don't you get wet?
We visit Dresden in a hurry but still manage to see the main attractions. From the Frauenkirke to the Semperoper theater, to the Zwinger palace? a whole series of beautiful Baroque buildings. It deserves a visit more? thorough, maybe we will return another time. We reach the rest of the group at the Altmarkt Galerie where we have lunch and, above all, we warm up! C ?? time for a short visit to the former Yenidze tobacco factory with the features of a mosque complete with a minaret.
Very close to Dresden, along the highway to return to Berlin, we stop at Moritzburg Castle: an elegant ocher-colored building with four brick red domes built on an island in the middle of a pond. The enchanting scenery leads us to romanticism and we let ourselves be immortalized in a languid kiss with our respective spouses.
After about an hour and a half on the motorway we reach Berlin Schonefeld airport. Upon delivery the odometer of the Transit marks 1371, still 29km and we exceeded the limit of 1400km that was included in the rental !! Ryanair's 21pm flight? slightly late, we are still in Catania just before midnight.

Until next time.

Audio Video Germany (east): the great beauty
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