A city boat tour, a birthday celebration and a free open-air concert
occupied the central weekend of a two-week holiday in Germany
at the end of the summer.
"My second cousins live in Berlin and Ellen celebrated her 60th birthday
at the end of August and we were invited to Brunch on her birthday.
In the event we based our whole holiday around this invitation,
taking a self-catering flat in a country town, Werder.
We had a delightful weekend meeting many relatives,
some we had never met before, and they arranged a boat trip, the brunch,
and casual evening meals at their houses for 20-30 people." - Miriam
Ellen's birthday fell on a hot and sunny Sunday, and was celebrated at
a restaurant overlooking the Müggelsee,
a beautiful lake busy with leisure boats in
the east of Berlin. Later a group of us went on to a free performance of
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony given in a square in the centre of Under
den Linden. It is hard to imagine a more German experience, though
the maintenance work on the S-Bahn which delayed our arrival helped
remind us of home.
The previous day's boat trip had given us an excellent low-level view
of the city. On another day we went for the high spots: the glass cupola
on top of the recently-restored Reichstag, and the appropriately-named
Panoramapunkt which towers over the glitzy new developments
around the once-barren Potsdamer Platz.
By contrast, the Holocaust Memorial halfway between these landmarks
recalls the lowest point of 20th century history.
We stayed in the small town of Werder whose historic centre lies on an
island in a lake. There was more water around the city of Brandenburg,
where a boat trip took us around the islands on which it is built. Further
east, from Frankfurt an der Oder we walked over a bridge across the
river into Poland, where we chose to spend our cash at an ice cream
stall rather than at one of the 24-hour vodka and cigarette shops.
"We went to Germany on holiday, where we went to museums, including one on
the history of Berlin and on the Berlin Wall. We went into a building there,
where the public used to be forbidden to enter, and is now open to the public.
We went into its dome. [The Reichstag] We also saw television in high definition.
We went to an area, where parts of a few films were filmed
[Filmpark Babelsberg in Potsdam, which has much expertise in special effects]." - Martin