Sat 16 Nov - Berlin, Germany

Leaving Berlin for the day...

Yesterday, we took the S1 train to its northern end which is Oranienburg. Today, we were on the same S1 train but travelled to its southern end station instead which is Potsdam Bahnhof.

Potsdam was the residence of the Prussian kings and the German Kaiser until 1918. Around the city there are a series of interconnected lakes and grand buildings, in particular the parks and palaces of Sanssouci, the largest Unesco World Heritage Site in Germany. It should also be noted that Potsdam is a separate and adjacent city to Berlin and is the capital for the state of Brandenburg.

Our main goal today was checking out Park Sanssouci which looked huge on the map. So, from Potsdam Bahnhof we walked as follows...

A piece of art depicting people on a picnic blanket...? Di couldn't help but joining them (a bit cold on her beautiful little bottom?)

Between Potsdam Bahnhof and Park Sanssouci you got note that this place is full of grand buildings - every time you turn around you see something so we won't list them (and for some we never learned their names...)

Heading towards Sanssouci we came across this dry old canal (or maybe moat?). We thought it looked good.

Not all of Potsdam has yet been beautified - Hans found this building more to his style (a bit worn and rough around the edges?)

We turned into the main pedestrian mall that leads to the Sanssouci park entrance. A bit too much like Disneyland we initially thought, but it was not too touristy. It seemed the locals were also there, shopping for bread and vegies and eating currywurst etc.

The yellow grand gate in the background is on a square which leads towards Park Sanssouci...

Facing the other way is a direct line to an old church - not that close to the palaces...

Our destination was that grand gate, actually called Brandenburger Tor (the second!).

Brandenburg is the state we are in, and perhaps if royalty were here before Berlin was the capital then once they built a palace in Berlin they needed another gateway there. So maybe this is the first Brandenburger Tor? No plaque present to explain. Sorry.

Just one of the many gated entrances to Sanssouci park grounds. And we are there...

Did we mention that Park Sanssouci is huge? We walked about 10km inside the parklands visiting the grounds of...

  • Schloß Sans Souci,
  • the Orangerie,
  • Belvedere,
  • the Neues Palais (far left on the map below); and
  • the Chinesiche Haus.
We could have done more as the park and the buildings were spectacular. You can see Brandenburger Tor to the far right on the map and Neues Palais to the left.

Our first grand boulevard. The pink piping seems to be for water drainage from some construction. A temporary blight on the landscape.

The water overflows straight into the duck ponds downhill from the main palace of Sans Souci. The ducks did not seem to mind.

Nor this guy...

The full scope of the single story favourite palace of Friederich der Groß (Frederick the Great, or the second) from the back...

Terraced gardens were copied from French style château as was much of the architecture. Very grand.

What first seemed strange is that these plants were "behind bars" but a closer look revealed glass in the doors. We theorized that they closed the doors on frosty, icy nights. The gardeners can just open a small window at the top of each door.

A royal view...Looking back to where we came from.

The statues around Sans Souci have really great expressions and each twist their bodies a different way. On some you get a flash of backside, others a bit more of shoulder, and some are almost stripped naked. Very German.

These plaques explaining the layout and history were quiet useful and informative.

The front entrance is surrounded by the curved colonnade. It reminded us of the Gloriette at Schönbrunn in Vienna.

Normally there is absolute precision in royal park layout of clear alleys between trees to another building, at 90 degrees, but not this time. Maybe this was a late addition.

More maintenance would be required. This column was held together by a couple of truck hitches!

And then you turn west and see this...the main view is a Dutch style windmill.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the answer. A mill stood here before the palace, but it was not attractive enough and was pulled down in the late 1700's by one of the Fredericks and replaced with something more "eye catching".

It stopped being used as a mill and has been a tourist attraction since 1861 (of course, additional restoration was required following WWII damage like most things around Berlin).

Hans was doing his best windmill impersonation outside the eastern side of the Orangerie.

The Orangerie is 300 metres long and is basically a green house. It sounded like a combination winter conservatory and party palace - it does have rooms for guests and entertaining but most of its grand halls hold plans in pots through the winter (close now).

The statues look down the hill and have their backs to the plants.

The layout of this enormous structure. The green sections are where plants are stored.

A selfie of course...the Orangerie was closed so we could not go in but we still thought it was cool.

The view back towards the Orangerie from the park below. Lovely.

Frederick Wilhelm IV was responsible for this building and stands proudly out the front.

A few other statues caught our eye - does this guy really have a dead deer slung over his shoulder?

Ice skates?

And a very well pedicured foot with the amount of people touching it for presumably good luck...

Di was fascinated by the huge number of plants inside.

Yep, its a jungle in there... (With apologies to the Underbelly theme music).

We were not sure where the plants would normally fit but we liked the park view anyway.

The west entrance highlighted the next palatial building - Belvedere.

Sorry for all the photos folks but the park here really is amazing and picturesque and the light was soft and little bit foggy, I.e. perfect for photography.

Another shot of Belvedere.

We never worked out the purpose of the Beldevere building but it sits on the highest point of the park and seems to have stairs up to an observation level. Unfortunately it also needed major repairs and was also closed.

We still got a great spot to sit for tea in front of it, with a view (not Hans, the other way).

And this is what we saw from where we sat...a large number of statues standing at the height of the tree line. What? We had to investigate.

That explains it - they sit on the top of Neues Palais - but does not explain why anybody would need or want so many statues?

The gardeners here seemed to have been a bit enthusiastic with the hedge trimmer...or maybe they were trained for haircuts...

It is a little silly just how enormous these places are and their purpose - the Neues Palais is a summer palace (for part time living).

Like most old and historical buildings in Berlin, the Neues Palais is given structural renovations.

So we were only seeing some of the statues...more were caged up (which made Di think of a Doctor Who episode called "Blink").

The "working quarters" for the Neues Palais summer palace were across the road from it... in these "modest" buildings.

Ok, after tea it was time of a loo break in the visitors centre.

Why have we included a photo below? Firstly it was expensive, costing 70 cents to get in, but the surreal element was getting a receipt for your loo visit which entitled you a 50 cents discount at the cafe.

For a coffee perhaps... After you have been to the loo... So you have to come back later... So you will get another coffee discount... And so on and so on...

The other formal building that caught our attention on the map was the Chinese House (there were many other buildings in Park Sansouci but we could not visit them all - you the reader should be happy as otherwise there would be twice as many photos!)

The Chinese house was built was a fad at the time and everyone who was anyone was getting a Chinese house of sorts.

The emperor at the time obviously needed one (to keep up with the Joneses). What the purpose and use of the building was, we had no idea. There was no signage to explain. Just looking good perhaps...

Gilt everywhere and Chinese looking characters decorate the whole building. This guy sits in the lotus position on the roof.

Every window and doorway have a Chinese face above and the ceilings are decorated with monkeys and parrots. German? No, but attractive yes.

Looking from a distance towards the Chinese house. The setting is beautiful.

The ducks seem to have a good life and added to the photogenic nature of Sanssouci.

After 3 hours of wandering around the grounds of Park Sansouci, we were "palaced out". Time for a late lunch.

It's a balance because you want to be inside and warm but many cafes were a bit posh and expensive and frankly not that attractive. This Doner place was very popular so we joined the crowd in there.

Di organised our lunch, in German, supplemented by finger pointing...

Good choice, the food and coffee was really good, and at a very moderate price, and it was nice and warm inside. Good call.

At 3pm we headed back to Potsdam Bahnhof, catching our first tram to get there. Change of transport was then required, but the trains are clean and quiet which made it quite a relaxing 1 hour journey home.

Potsdam looked prosperous but not all areas along the way back to Berlin's centre had been given the same attention. These rail tracks clearly haven't be used for a while.

A nearby stop to home and on the S1 line is Oranienburger Straße so we hopped off there instead of our usual train stop of Hackescher Markt and headed a different way to our local supermarket (as everything is closed tomorrow Sunday).

On the way we passed the New Synagogue, which is nearly 150 years old. It has fencing, a no-go area, police patrol and clear signs about staying away if you have no business in being there.

The stepped up security was likely because the synagogue has been attacked several times in the past - on Kristallnacht (obviously) and then it was pretty much destroyed during WWII bombings and would still be a potential target.

Our local streets - near Hackescher Markt.

And our local trams which we've not yet travelled on. They looked cool where they were parked in the evening light. Hackescher Markt is the end station for several tram lines.

We wandered into the local Hackescher Markt markets (on Thursdays and Saturdays) to see if we could find some nice pasta for dinner. Nothing took our fancy there...

But lots of other food and drink offerings. The idea of "BBQ Schwein Pie" made Hans grin...

And Glühwein did the same for Di... Check out the smoke... The Glühwein was definitely hot.

We did our grocery shopping for Saturday night / Sunday on the way home as food shops are closed on Sundays.

Due to our late lunch and still being relatively full, we then decided to swap the evening meals around, leave the pasta and our newly bought pasta ingredients for Sunday night and instead have leftovers for dinner tonight.

A beer for Hans and a glass of wine each to accompany the evening and that would have to do for today. Good night.

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