Day 6: Berlin the Second Capitol in my Tour of European Capitols
Our first port of call was Warnemunde. The weather predictions were for a high of 11 C and 70% chance of rain. Since Berlin is a 3 hour train ride from Warenmunde, we hoped that the weather would be a little warmer and a little drier. It wasn’t – good think I had opted for museum tours!
The train we took was booked by Celebrity, so it went straight to Berlin with no stops. Along the way, we were offered coffee, tea, juice and a snack. Very civilized and relaxed! We arrived at the Tiergarten rail station, which is also the closest station to the zoo, not that we were going there. We got on a bus and headed into the city for a brief tour. We drove through part of the Teirgarten (not the Zoo part) and on our way, we saw the Victory Statue, the Reichstag (new parliament buildings), and lots of construction for an extension of their underground Metro. Our first stop was Schloss Charlottenburg, a large summer built for Sophie Charlotte, the wife Friedrich III (aka the First King of Prussia).
We then headed to museum island which is where we spent most of our day in Berlin. Our lunch was served at the café of the National Museum (white asparagus soup, paprika chicken with mashed potatoes and a vegetable ragout, and apple strudel and, of course a choice of beer or wine and coffee with dessert).
We then went to the Berliner Dom which was built during the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II from 1894 to 1905. We were escorted to the Kaiser’s Lodge where we were given an introduction to this amazing building. Then came the highlight – an organ concert on the largest pipe organ (it has 7,269 pipes, 113 stops, and 4 manuals). The organist played Bach’s Toccata d-Moll BWV 565, Jeremiah Clarke’s Prince of Denmark’s March, and Boellmann’s Suite gothique op. 25 Priere a Notre-Dame & Toccata. It was amazing to hear – and feel – this music played in such a remarkable space. We got to meet and thank the organist as we left the church.
Our next stop was the Pergamon Museum. This was one of the things I was looking forward to – seeing the Pargamon Altar and the collections from Babylon, including the Procession Way and the Ishtar Gate, and other very impressive archeological finds from Syria, Asia Minor and Mesopotamia. I love the artwork, the colours and the massive size of these pieces. It was everything I wanted and more!
Upon leaving the museum, the rain was coming down and I could no longer ignore it, even if I tried. Fortunately, the rest of our journey was the second half of the city tour. We saw the Brandenburg Gate, The Holocaust Memorial, 3 Opera Houses, the Franzosischer and the Deutscher Doms, Topography of Terror, including a section of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie and a portion of the Eastside Gallery (a part of the Berlin Wall that is covered in artwork). If this sounds like a long day – it was. A month would barely give you time to see things in Berlin. But it was a nice introduction to a place I want to come back to see and experience in more detail.
But now, it was back to the train and our trip “home.” This time, we got the added bonus of beer or wine along with our snack. It was a good thing, because we did not pull back into port until 10:30 and the dining room was now closed – not that I needed to eat any more!
So, I got into some dry clothes and headed up to the Reflections bar, which has a dance floor and great views from the front of the ship. We were supposed to leave port at 11:59, but because of high winds, they delayed leaving until 2 AM.
This is where I decided I found my perfect bartender for this cruise. You see, I scout the bars for the one of two bartenders who make me laugh, make a good drink, and simply appear that they also like the job they are doing. I have a great time talking to them, learning about where they are from, and I feel special because they start to know the types of drinks I like. This one is from Anatolia, Turkey and is one of the flair bartenders. He just always seems to be having fun. It helps that he is a bit of a flirt as well! I also saw the other Canadian librarian who is from Calgary. We had a nice time talking and when the DJ started playing good salsa music … I had to dance!