Sunday, September 20, 2015

Berlin to Potsdam - Saturday, 19 September

It was an early morning departure this morning to Potsdam, about an hour's drive. The weather was cool and sunny.

There we visited the Rococo palace of Frederick the Great. Sanssouci Palace was built around 1745 and served as the emperor's home until his death in 1786. One of Frederick's main reasons for building the palace was for the excavation of his grave. He meant to die there "without a care," the meaning of Sanssouci.

It really was a quick drive and gave us a taste of some very beautiful villas as we left Berlin and approached Potsdam via the Bridge of Spies. The Glienicke Bridge crosses the Havel River and was a crossing between East Germany in Potsdam and the American sector of West Berlin. During the Cold War it was a place that spies were exchanged between the Soviets and the Americans.

We arrived at Sanssouci and some of us were met by our guide, Jenns. He really put the palace into perspective and explained the way that the palace was conceived as outdoors met indoors and vice versa. Before we went inside we viewed a model of the park and also the Norman Tower and it's approach to the palace.

The following pictures are but a few examples of some of the rooms in the palace.

After about a 90 minute tour of the palace we moved outside to the grave of Frederick and the gardens. Frederick was divorced soon after his marriage and left no heirs. He was buried along side his dogs. The potatoes signify his commitment and introduction into Germany of potato farming.

The gardens were modeled after the gardens at Versaille, although a bit less grandiose. The statues are based on Greek myths, many of which were taken from Ovid's The Metamorphoses.

We gathered back at our coach and headed for a brief coach tour of Potdsam. The architecture in Potsdam is varied and mirrors the different ages of the city. There was Baroque, GDR construction as well as post WWI. The pumping station for the palace was concealed as a mosque.

A brief glimpse of Checkpoint Bravo as we turned on the highway on the way back to Berlin.

Back in Berlin, the choir had a short time to change and go through a brief rehearsal before our 3 hour boat tour. The weather seemed to be changing from periods of sun to periods of very cloudy weather. We hope the rain holds off. The boat tour highlighted 23 of the over 500 bridges in Berlin.

It was a fun time with some music with the Berlin Chorus BVG e. V. A few candids and some of the interesting bridges.

A suspended airplane creates a contrast with a modern building.

By the time we crossed under the last few bridges it started to pour down rain and the temperature dropped about 15 degrees. We were glad to be headed to dinner.

Dinner was at The Ratskellar, a beautifully appointed restaurant in the Rathause.

We had Kartoffel Suppe, a Berlin specialty, roast pork, cailiflower, and French fries.

Before dessert the choir sang a number of songs including Stars on a Summer Night, Horch, was kommt von draussen 'rein, Jezt kommen die lustigen Tag, Lebe-liebe-lache!, Als Freunde.

Dessert was a repeat of the previous night - ice and a berry sauce. After dessert the choir was joined by our German friends. They sang Amazing Grace, Harmonie, and So Fein Tag.

Back to the hotel after a long day. Our beds will feel quite good.

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