Castles, Wild Boars & Berlin...
Trip Start May 12, 2008
39Trip End Jul 03, 2008
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Where I stayed
We ended up not doing the Happy Mosel bike thing. We started planning late, then the bikes wouldn't all fit in the car and stuff. So we bagged that plan and made others. My sister, niece (Morgan), nephew (Garrett) and I all headed off to Manderscheid castle first. It was another very scenic drive. Janet was able to get us there even without the GPS to guide us. Manderscheid is actually two castles very close to one another. Its weird cause I kept seeing these signs that said something like Vulkan something or other all the way there. Then I ask my sister and she explains that it is in a volcanic region. Cool. Anyways we got to the castle and hiked around, enjoying the beautiful views. And being entertained by looking at the huge snail that Garrett found. I really have never seen one quite that big
We then headed off to the Daun Wildpark. It is one of those drive through sfari type places, where you can feed the animals from your car and stuff. It was interesting even though there wasn't a ton of animals around, it had gotten rather chilly and overcast. WE did however get to see the Wild Boars!! Wow...they were really large and there must have been about 15 babies to each boar. The baby boars are so cute. I have a lot of photos and even some video I will put up about them. Don't mess with a boar though, the large ones were definitely more than a little grumpy. Also very cool, this place had an area where you can go in and walk around and the monkeys are roaming free. We got some good pics here even though my camera had died, we used Morgan's. The monkeys were real laid back and didn't even seem to care that we were there.
Then we hauled back to Janet's house in Speicher so that I could finish packing and getting ready for my train that evening. I don't know why I didnt get it all done before we left, cause we got to the train station with only about 2 minutes to spare. Close call, as it was the last train I could get that night. Whew... Did I mention I got my foot stuck in the door getting on? It was some old kind of door and it hooked on the back of my shoe, but I managed to tug free with no damage to me or the shoes
The train left Speicher at 8:24p and arrived in Köln at 10:51p. I then had a wait until 1:55 am for my next train to Berlin. I managed to stay awake the whole time. Well....actually I drank some coffee and snacked on a balance bar and walked around the station. I wandered outside the station and there was the most beautiful church right smack there to the side of the station. Amazing. I tried to avoid the homeless, crazy and hookers while there. Well, there was really only about one of each that I saw. The station was pretty busy the entire time as they run trains all night, and they had guards walking around. My big mistake was drinking that coffee though! It was about 10X stronger than any cup o brew that you get at home and it caused me to only sleep about a total of 2 hours. The train ride from Köln to Berlin was 5 hours but I was wide awake for most of it. Ohh...and talk about nice. There is something to be said about 1st class German train cars. I had a nice reclining seat, foot rest, tray table, nonitor in the back of the headrest in front of me. (that had a few german things to watch)It was pretty plush, definitely the way to travel.
So I got into Berlin at about 7am and hoofed it on down to the hostel. I think its about a mile and a half and I made it in an hour
I took my trusty little city map and the Dk eyewitness Germany guide and took off. Wow, I realy saw soo much today. I think I will let the pictures speak for themself when I get them up. Way too many places to list without boring you all. Some of the coolest things though? Well, the very coolest was seeing the Dalai Lama. Yes you read that right. How about I just ended up in the right place at the right time without any planning. I didn't know it but the Dalai Lama was in town today for something and the city was also holding a free tibet concert and stuff. It was way cool. I did get a pic as his car was pulling away. Wow, thats a once in a lifetime thing huh?
Berlin is just so incredibly beautiful. The architecture the way thezy have kept greenery even in the most downtown areas. I really do love it and am now glad that I planned to spend an extra day. I am going to need it. I barely got most of the east side of Berlin done today. I think one of the most humbling things was seeing the small part of the Berlin wall that remains as a landmark and reminder. I can remember being a teenager when the wall came down. It sad though that people have chipped away at it for souvenirs and stuff. You can find what are claimed to be bits of it all over for sale. At the same area is a site where they are excavating the remains of an old Gestapo headquarters. You can see what they have unearthed as well as look at pictures, hear audio and read about WWII
In addition, another very moving site in Berlin is the Neue Wache which is a german memorial to the victims of war and tyranny. It sits off in a little building of its own with a scultpure of a mother with her dead son. The sight itself is moving alone, but then to read that an unknown soldier and and unknown concentration camp vicitim are buried underneath as well as that the ground I was standing on contained earth from the WWII battlefields and the concentration camps, well that just floored me.
Ok....well I am going to go ahead and close this out so I can get some rest, I will probably crash early tonight. I will write again tomorrow and try to get pics up soon!