Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Elbe Berlin to Prague July Aug 2019

This was a Viking cruise that was supposed to go down the Elbe River.  However, the water level of the Elbe went so far down they could not let the ship navigate safely.  Viking did the next best thing.  We actually spent nights on the Elbe in two Viking ships that were anchored and saw the rest of the sights by way of bus.  Also included were hotel stays in Berlin and Prague, Czech Republic.  It actually worked out pretty darn well!  I would have preferred the cruise, but Viking did another pretty clever thing.  They offered us 50% off on our next cruise.  Talk about golden handcuffs!!!

Berlin.  A big city and capital of Germany.  Filled with history, of course.  Being the first of our group to arrive, we went on a boat tour down the Spree River.  

They served beer and German food onboard this three hour tour.  YUMMMMY!!!

Berlin has an old church that was heavily bombed in World War II.  It still remains as a reminder.  

Hanging in a portion of that church is a charcoal painting done by a German prisoner of war of the Soviets.  

KaDeWa is a huge department store in Berlin.  It has absolutely everything in six-plus floors.  After taking a walk around this monstrous place, we ran into three fellows from the Netherlands.  

Leaving Berlin, we travel through the Potsdam area.  Remember the movie "Bridge of Spies?"  Here's the bridge. 

And the famous Brandenburg Gate.... 

And, the now very touristy CheckPoint Charlie...  

The old border between East and West Berlin is marked on the ground by a line of bricks two bricks wide.  Here's a spot near CheckPoint Charlie.  

Our guide who lived in East Berlin said when they turned 18 they went to a government office and registered to get a Trabant car.  Then they were told they could come back in 15 years to pick it up.  They were awful cars, but it's what communism had for them.  Now the Trabant is a collectors item.  

Potsdam is a suburb of Berlin.  When you mention Potsdam, most think of the Potsdam Conference at the end of World War II.  Stalin was the host as Potsdam was in their zone of influence.  

Note the big red star in the image above.  That's Stalin saying hello.

Before we leave Berlin, we went to the former East Berlin to visit the old Stasi headquarters.  The communists spied on EVERYBODY, as records showed after the downfall of the communist state.  The head of this nonsense was Erich Mielke.  Mielke was very particular as to how breakfast would be served to him, shown in the image below.  Kinda creepy, actually.  

Wittenburg, Germany is perhaps best known as Martin Luther's home.  In fact, they changed the name of Wittenberg by adding "Lutherstadt" in front of it.  This is the new reformed bible from Luther.

After walking up and down on cobblestone streets, it was time to have a beer.  

After visiting Lutherstadt Wittenberg, we hit Torgau.  Torgau is where American and Soviet troops linked up in April of 1945.  The image to the left shows what the Soviets left to commemorate the event.  Across the street is another monument to also remember the event.

Back to our ship in Wittenburg, and then in the morning leave for (eventually) Dresden.  Goodbye Wittenburg!

The next destination is Meissen and the famous porcelain factory.  

And then on to our next ship docked on the Elbe River in Dresden.  

On board in Dresden, we were visited by two ladies who were experts at lace making.  

That night featured German food!  So here I am posing with the chef.  

In Dresden we visited the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Museum.  By the way, if you didn't know, Europe is filled with museums, churches, clock towers, and town squares along with up and down cobblestone streets.  

Another stop in German, this time to the Saxony Switzerland National Park.  It's not in Switzerland.  It's called that because a few visiting Swiss artists thought it reminded them of Switzerland.  

Then on to our last stop, Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.  The Charles Bridge was packed with tourists.  Another way to see it is from a boat ride along the Vltava River.  

We also visited the President's Palace.  Here are the friendly guards.  

Gee, I have time.  One final visit to a brewery!  

Until My Next Adventure,

See You On Down the Road!

Jim Patterson

... And here's a slideshow from my trip!

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