I said my goodbyes to Bev and Dick on Tuesday night, as they had to leave the hotel very early to catch a 6:30 plane back to London enroute to Seattle where they have left their car.
My hotel in Berlin doesn’t accept guests until 2:00 in the afternoon, so Wolfgang and Doris had invited me over for breakfast at 10:30, then Wolfgang was going to take me into the hotel. In the meantime, the Kleinmachnow hotel has free Wi-Fi, but only in the lobby. I got everything packed, spent quite a bit of time looking over all the family documents, to see what things I might have overlooked in the past, and then tried to finish writing up our last day in Poland, before descending to the lobby for a cup of cocoa and …. The internet.
Breakfast was again very nice. We had Weisswurst for breakfast, a specialty of the Bavarian region eaten only until noon, with a special sweet mustard, and as Doris showed me in the little booklet that came with it a specific way of being cut to eat it by Bavarians. It was very good, and I had no problem devouring it, along with some pickled pear, more yummy rye bread and a variety of spreads and meat. They assured me that this was not every day fare, normally reserved for weekends. I had given Wolfgang a t-shirt from Harbor Days. While we were gone Doris tried it on and took a series of photos of herself wearing it on her cell phone, and she wanted to show them to me, so we looked at those, pictures of her daughter’s recent wedding, their new grandson, and of Linda, their little dog. It is possible that she thinks her name is “nicht sprengen Linda” since that is what they both say to her as she enthusiastically greets – whoever. She’s pretty cute.
Since parking in Berlin is no easier than any other city, we took the double deckerM48 bus into town. We were at the end of the line and able to sit in the front seats in the upper story for great views into town. The Berlin hotel was not far from Potsdammerplatz and we wandered from there to Alexanderplatz, stopping for a couple of beers. Wolfgang has a fantastic sense of place. Just as he knew a great deal about the towns, including buildings, what used to be there, what had changed, what was destroyed in the war, he also intimately knew new buildings, existent old and no longer existent buildings and neighborhoods in Berlin and wove them into his narrative.
He can, and does, turn anything into a good story. At the beginning we stopped fairly frequently for beer, including in one covered outdoor café area where they put light blankets on all of the chairs so you could sit outside, even when it was getting cooler. Good idea. It was just good to just sit and talk and get to know him better. I am not his only “case” as he calls his forays into helping others with their genealogical research in the area. He likes those that provide him with a good story and just enough information that he can dig his teeth in. Our “case” is a little different in that we are the only people so far looking into the same town where he lived when he was born, and his family also has roots in the line of towns between Torzym and Sulecin/Sternberg and Zeilenzig, so our stories overlap in space if not in time. It was just starting to get cool and dusky when we started off again, and it was practically dark by the time we arrived at the ruins of the old palace, slated one of these days to be rebuilt. I think I like the city better by night, the lights add a warm glow missing in the day time. We caught the M48 I was surprised how long it took to get back to the hotel.
Today I was on my own. Tried to catch up on sleep, and internet communications. Sat in an outdoor café and had fruhstuck of croissant & cappuccino and fruit wrote a thank you card to the Dom Joannitow in Sulecin and postcards. I had planned to do a volksmarch in the morning and then take a boat trip along the canal and visit some museums in the afternoon, but the morning got away from me. I was heading off to find a canal boat when I passed the startpoint for the volksmarch, and couldn’t resist. So ended up doing that instead of the museum and canals. Parts of it retraced places we had visited the first day in Berlin, the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate, and then places I had wandered with Wolfgang yesterday, but also wove through smaller more intimate (relatively speaking) neighborhoods. The walk has a series of checkpoints. You are given some small labels when you start. You are to go into several U stations and validate them and then put the stickers on your start card. Unfortunately, the validation machine ate my labels at the first stop, so I took pictures of the appropriate U-bahn stations as I went along. The next obstacle was that vast sections of downtown were cordoned off, and the police from all over the country were there in a massive force due to the fact that the Pope was visiting Berlin today. I tried to reach the area on the other side of the Reichstag by walking through the Tiergarten and cutting over, but everywhere I tried to cut over, the road was blocked, so I finally gave up, I am sure however that I walked much further than I would have had I been able to follow the directions, and I quite enjoyed walking through the park. It threatened rain all day, but intermittently the sun broke through brilliantly, and it did while I was in the park. The sun setting, but brilliant as I was finishing up and the gold decorations on top of the Dom glowing as I finished the walk. I thought about taking an evening canal trip, but need to be up quite early to catch the train to Würzburg. So passed. When I arrived at the bus stop, however, I discovered that not only were all of the streets closed, but shortly after I had descended the M48 bus at Alexanderplatz it and other downtown busses were taken out of service for the rest of the day as they traversed the cordoned off roads.
Not to worry, there are S-Bahns and U-Bahns and I got back to the hotel at a reasonable hour.