Wednesday, April 27, 2011


As we walked through the town to the church where Luther preached, here is some of the scenery along the way.

 From Martin Luther's courtyard.

 Main Street
 Interesting bycycle rack.
 On the town square
An interesting tree near Luther's church.


This morning was another great breakfast, followed by a lecture by an expert on Luther. Very, very informative.

Our excursion this day was to Wittenberg and Torgau. I now have a new appreciation for Martin Luther. We toured his house which was the former monastery that he lived in when he first was assigned to Wittenberg. His house is now a museum and has an original Bible printed back in the 1500’s. We toured the cathedral where he preached which is still in use for religious services. We also saw the famous church where he nailed his 95 theses to the door. The door is now iron. It’s the most photographed door in the world. It’s a wonderful town that definitely needs more exploring.

After Wittenberg we took the bus to Torgau. This was the royal seat of the Saxon kings. It is also the place where the American army and the Russian army met at the end of WWll.

We walked back to the boat, had a wonderful dinner and went to bed.

Martin Luther's house.
 The original floor of the house dating back to the late 1400's.  Luther lived there first as a monk and then after he married and raised a family.
Luther's death portrait.  Shows that he didn't turn into the monster that rumors said he did.
Luther's Bible
Statue of Luther's wife Katharina von Bora in a courtyard outside the house.


Started today with a great breakfast and a leisurely morning. We sailed to Magdeburg and docked around 1:30.

This is a medieval town university town that is over 1,000 years old. Its main claim to fame is the cathedral. The town was 90 per cent destroyed in the winter of 1945 because of its mechanical engineering industry. The rebuilding effort is tremendous. Nothing was really done under the GDR, so it has only been since reunification in 1989 that progress has been made.

After the tour we met the boat in Para , had a wonderful dinner and sailed throught he night to our next port of call Wittenberg.
Guess who enjoying cruising on the Elbe.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser is the architech of this building.  click here for more info on Friedensreich Hunderwasser  The bbiulding is designed to go with the flow of nature.  Very unusual with trees growing out of it.  The grounds around the building are uneven.  It has shops and a cafe on the ground floor, there are business offices in it and also apartments.  If I lived in Magdeburg I would live in this building.

Inside of the cathedral.  Completely rebuilt after WWll.

I like this roof.  It's saying "Here's looking at you".

Monday, April 25, 2011


The Potsdam conference was a meeting of Truman, Churchill and Stalin held in 1945. It determined the borders for post war Europe and decided the fate of Germany. It was held in Cecilienhof Palace in Potsdam. The palace and the grounds are beautiful.

Stalin's desk in the palace. He had a window on either side and a door near by. He was afraid of an assassination attempt.

You've heard of King Arthur's round table, well this is the Potsdam conference round table. Everyone is equal.

A picture of all the participants in the conference.

Allied office in the palace.

Allied office in the palace.

Allied office in the palace.

The Red Star garden. Potsdam was in Russian occupied territory. Hence the red star.

Explanation in four languages.
These next two photos are each a half of the palace as seen from the front. I couldn't get it into one picture.
Second half
Interesting foot note. Each ally had there own entrance and exit to the palace. This was done to maintain equality. God forbid two delagations show up at the front door at the same time. Who defers to whom?? That would have been the question.


Our first stop after lunch was checkpoint Charlie. The original was torn down after the wall came down, but a replica has been erected. It's not on the original site, but it's close. The entire area is inundated with posters, pictures and memorabilia of the era from 1961 to 1989. I remember when the wall went up, I remember when it came down and all the chaos the took place during those years.

Here are some pictures of then and now. Also another of the brick path which is all through Berlin. Every time we crossed it our guide pointed it out. It is a permant memorial of where the wall was.

President Kennedy visiting the wall 06/26/1963. That was when he gave his famous speech in which he said"Ich bin ein Berliner".  click here to see the crowd gathered fo Kennedy's speech

Sign in French which says "You are leaving the American Sector".

Obvious protest circa the late 60's

This sign in English, Russian and French speaks for itself.
Replica of Checkpoint Charlie.

I think this is a boundary marker for the German Democratic Republic. (The old East Germany)
Several museums have sprung up in the area.
Different view of the replica of Checkpoint Charlie. It's important to remember that this was a real thing from August 1961 to November 1989.
Notice the flags in the background. they are flags of the U.S., the U.S.S.R. (which is now Russia),
the U.K. and France. These are all the countries that had a sector in Berlin from after the war to the fall of the wall in 1989.

These bricks show where the actual wall was. They run all through Berlin. The wall was constructed in one night. The reason for it was because too many people were leaving east Germany to live free in West Berlin.
One of the many posters in memory of people killed while trying to escape to the West.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


The following pictures are of the Berlin wall as it stood until 1989. It's kept as a memorial. Artists from all over the country were invited to use their talent and paint the wall. Here is some of the artwork.

View as we drove away.

The hotel in in the former American sector. I took the picture where the wall stood. It's not that far, but East German boats patrolled the river with orders to shoot to kill.

The wall and the death zone before the river.

Same as above

Wall art

A little history about the wall

A whole in the wall. The death zone is visable before the river and the other side of the river was the American side.

More art work

the famous kiss between Leonid Breshnev and the East German Prime Minister.

Today was a day that exceeded expectations. I had an early breakfast and was on the bus for the Berlin tour by 8:00. We drove to Berlin down the autobahn into what used to be the American sector, passing through checkpoint bravo. There are still remnants of the checkpoint standing. Our first stop was the Reichstag. I saw many things that I saw on Friday but this time our guide Andres gave the history and several insights into the reasons that shaped events in the 1930’s. E.g. It is widely accepted but can’t be proven that the Nazis started the fire that burned the Reichstag in 1933. This enabled Hitler to consolidate his power and really started his rule. Andres had before and after pictures of the Brandenburg gate, the Reichstag and the wall. We spent a majority of the time in Berlin in what was the East German section. I saw a section of the wall that is being preserved as a National monument that has been decorated by various artists that were invited by the gov’t to display their artwork. This part of the wall faces what was the American Sector. It has a river as a natural barrier. East German boats patrolled the river and there was a watchtower every 500 meters. They had orders to shoot to kill if anyone was in the river or in the dead zone (the area between the wall and the river) After visiting the wall we proceeded on to what was Checkpoint Charlie. There are several museums and a lot of posters depicting the events that happened from 1961 to 1989. It was really very moving. You could feel the tension that must have existed during that time. There was a replica of the checkpoint in the middle of the street manned by men dressed as American soldiers, and there were the bricks in the street as a reminder of where the wall stood. We had lunch in a restaurant that recreated Berlin in the 1920’s. Very good meal of chicken, liquid bread (beer) and apple cake. After lunch we headed to Potsdam. First stop was a palace of Fredrick ll. He was responsible for making the German plant potatoes. This saved the population from starvation during war time when conquering armies would burn the fields. The palace was his “man cave” and women were not allowed. Voltaire spent 3 years there as his guest. After the palace we went to a castle where the Potsdam conference was held. Very very interesting. Pictures of Truman, Churchill, and Stalin. Then Churchill was defeated and his successor took his place. Learned about the protocol of how each nation was treated as an equal. We then headed back to the boat for a wonderful dinner.

Our home for a week

The train station where we first arrived in Berlin

a front view of the Reichstag.

The Brandenburg gate.

Top of the Brandenburg gate.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Had a very long walk through Berlin today. Started at the hotel in Potsdammer Platz and walked toward the Brandenburg gate. On the way we stopped at the Holocaust Memorial and the American Embassy. From there we proceeded on to the gate and then over to the Reichstag. It is only open to the public by appointment only and appointments take over a week to get. So we didn't get the chance to go up in the dome. We walked back to Brandenburg gate following bricks in the road which are remnants of the Berlin wall. Brandenburg gate was in East Germany. we walked through it and started our journey down Uter den Linden. We went down into a subway station that was closed when the area was East Germany. It's much the same as it was in the 1930's. We walked all the way down to Alexanderplatz and then took the uban back to the hotel. The Holocaust Memorial is a field of 2,711 cement blocks covering 5 acres commerating the extermination of the European Jews.
The American Embassy
The back of the Brandenburg gate

Looking to the Reichstag from Brandenburg gate. Notice the line of bricks in the street. That is where the wall was.