The Best of Eastern Europe, Sept. 2016


    Above is Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews, San Suoci Palace & Gardens, Swiebodzin’s Statue of Jesus in Poland (largest in world), a couple tons of potatoes at Warsaw’s family home visit, and Kaiser Wilhelm’s bombed-out church from WWII.

    Since we had never been to Eastern Europe, numerous friends had raved about their travels there, and Grand Circle offered a tour there.....well, the rest is history.  After the horrific 17 hr. overnight flight home from India, we splurged and went first class: massage in each seat, zillions of choices of food/snacks, constant refills on beverages, your own TV screen, noise-deafening headsets, and of course, being able to stretch out completely......were it not for the remnants of Hurricane Hermine which had us bouncing awake virtually all night long.  But I’m sure we got a little more sleep than those in regular seats.

    We had opted for the pre-trip 3-day stay in Berlin to give us more time to explore and wander.  Our guide Magda and driver Damian had 2 full days mapped out for our small group of @12.  They took us to places where the included bus tour would not, and also left us time on our own to do whatever else.  Our hotel was at a tram stop, which took us to a central location to connect with busses/trams/subway to get to other places of interest.  There was also a restaurant across the street which offered endless choices of entrees, with HUGE servings, and cheap prices.  Berlin in general was not expensive.

    One of the stops was Checkpoint Charlie, with the Topography of Terror one block away. This was an outdoor “museum,” built behind the Berlin Wall, of what life was like in Berlin under Nazi domination.

    Our group also crossed the River Havel on the Bridge of Spies, made famous by Tom Hanks.

    During free time, we visited the Berlin Cathedral, Kaiser Wilhelm’s contribution to Berlin.  It really looks out of place.  Carol waited while I walked up to the Dome Walk, located around the base of the large center dome, for some awesome views.


    Above, taken from the Dome walk, is the TV

tower, our landmark to the tram stop back to the

hotel. Local Berliners call it Walter Ulbrichi’s “last

erection,” a communist leader.

     I took off on my own to see the Holocaust

Memorial, also known as the Memorial to the

Murdered Jews of Europe.  It consists of

2,711 concrete slabs, stelae, of differing heights.

Why that random number, I never found out.

    We also chose the optional tour to Potsdam,

where England, the USA, and Britain decided

the fate of what was left of Germany

after WWII. Very informative for me.

    That tour also included SanSuoci palace/gardens, summer home of King Frederick in the middles 1700s.  He introduced the potato to his Prussian kingdom, thus is known as the Potato King.  His 12 greyhound pets are buried next to him; he named them after mistresses of the King of France, to anger the King.

Topography of Terror wall

And Magda starts her tradition of “surprising” us on the bus, after a tour,  with various flavors of Polish vodka.  This one is LEMON, yummmmy!


    After the visit to San Suoci gardens, we went to a restaurant with outdoor seating, in perfect weather.

    And the photo below is a reminder of what happens when you go to the bathroom BEFORE being seated and giving your drink order.

    I had told Carol to order me a beer, but there were several choices, so he wasn’t sure which one to order.

    I get to the table and all the water is gone from BOTH pitchers.  I signal the waiter for more water and a Berliner beer.....and he kept taking drinks past our table to other people.....and it seemed like FOREVER before I got something to quench my thirst. 

    As you can see, I did drink half the pitcher of water when it finally came.

Eastern Europe Home Page
Warsaw, Poland
Krakow, Poland
Zakopane to Olomouc to Prague, Czech Republic
Bratislava, Slovakia to Budapest, Hungary
Our week of R & R