Berlin Journal August 2009 – Barbara Joy Cooley          Home:

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On Wednesday, we took the subway and then a Regional Express train to Pottsdam, where we took a hot, jam-packed bus ride from hell to Sanssouci, Kaiser Friedrich der Grosse’s getaway chateau and country estate.  After visiting the chateau and grounds, we had tea at a lovely place near the chateau.  During tea, Tom called Ana in New York; the package had arrived safely.  Whew.

We walked into the charming town and found a place for dinner called the Wiener restaurant.  That inelegant sounding name actually means Vienna –er, so it isn’t so bad.  We dined on the patio.  Inside was elegant, and the staff was preparing for a fancy buffet dinner.  Suddenly, as we ate, we heard lovely piano music.  The pianist, an aging Hans Kunze, also goes by Joe Conners and plays all the jazz standards that we love.  Arnold bought two CDs from him – one for us, and one for Arnold.  As we were leaving, Joe played the jaunty “America” from West Side Story in our honor.  Joe was the musical highlight of the week.

After dinner we went to an organ concert at the Friedenkirche (Freedom Church).  The organist was a young woman, and the music was all modern.  The organ sounded good, but I’ve heard better.

We took the S-bahn train back into Berlin.  Generally, the S-bahn in the Berlin region is not working.  All the cars need important maintenance.  But occasionally, one of the trains will run, using cars that have been imported from other cities.

Back at the hotel in the evening, the staff had moved us into a room on the back side, away from the street.  It was, however, next to the stairway and elevator.  The biggest problem with the hotel was lack of ventilation.  It is okay, I think, not to have air conditioning.  But there needs to be at least a fan to provide air and white noise.  At least on the back of the hotel it was possible to have the window open at night without raging street noise.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009