Today was our last day in Wittenberg (which is the town where Martin Luther built the first Lutheran Church) and we made a trip to Torgau – a little town on the banks of the Elbe River in Saxony north western Germany. This little town is known as the place where on 25 April 1945, at the end of the Second World War, Russian and USA forces first met. It is Sunday here and we got to the town square at 10 am and not one single soul was there. There were no cars on the roads, no people to be seen, no shops open and only the Church bells ringing in the distance. This is unusual – even in Pauanui in winter there are people buzzing around on a Sunday morning but in this sleepy little town no one is awake! It is cold today – 21 degrees but a cold wind is blowing and the Americans are huddled together – the two Kiwis aren’t!
To our great relief we have had no dramas today – no need to try to explain ze problems to ze people in white coats who speak no English. We leave this boat that went nowhere tomorrow morning so the one in charge of the B’s has just packed up the cases for early departure. All good until he found some of my clothes still in ze wardrobe which did not make ‘im too ‘appy! Well, I can’t remember everyzing because I am trying to work out ze papervork for ze next few days and complete ze Viking appraisal form which is asking everything from what we thought of the Maître D to what we thought of the guide four days ago and I am having trouble remembering what we did yesterday! Heaven forbid!
It is lovely being on this boat that has gone nowhere and there is a wonderful chef who gives a little dissertation each evening on what is going to be on the menu. The trouble is you get three courses and if you decide you only want one or two they look at you as if you have gone completely mad! I can tell you for sure if they don’t start offering three courses of carrot sticks we will have the same trouble we have had on every other trip with the clothes shrinking so much that we need to buy a whole new wardrobe!
So we made our way to Berlin by car actually because we had to check out the hospital system here – say no more other than we can report from the research we did that it is excellent when they can speak your language – unlike in Wittenberg on Saturday when a guy in the queue for the ED jumped out to interpret ze problem to ze nurse for me because no one – and I mean no one spoke English! Anyway – enough said on that subject. Our journey was interesting – especially when the lady driver was going at 140 km/h on the autobahn whilst driving with one hand and using her phone to Google the right word in English for something she wanted to tell Vern (whom, I might add, she insisted sit next to her in ze front!) At times she also grabbed a little piece of paper to write something on it like the year that something happened here in Germany whilst we raced on at lightning speed past wheat fields (which are not growing because there has been a drought here for 18 months) and villages. I was sitting in the back thinking my heart my also need to be checked in ze hospital when we get there!
Today we went out on a four hour sightseeing tour around Berlin which was madness in itself because we had to constantly dodge the e-scooters (which just landed here about two weeks ago and are causing almost the entire population to scream loudly in protest) and also the bikes which are zooming around at a great rate of knots. I am thinking if we make it through this day without needing another visit to ze ‘ospital it will be a cause for celebration! What a great cultural and vibrant city with such an interesting history with a population of 3.2m. The reunification of east and west is evident in the number of new and architecturally different buildings from apartments to performing arts centres to office buildings. Of course we went to what remains of the Wall which is the East Side Gallery built by the Russians to keep their own people on their side. In 1990 this was painted by 118 artists from all over the world, Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate, the seat of Parliament, the Palaces, Opera House, Memorial to the Holocaust victims and saw where Angela works etc. Then in the afternoon we did a taste of Berlin with a local guide where we caught two buses and two trains to get to and from little chocolate shops, a brewery where we had the largest sausage I have seen in all my life, beer, coffee and cake, mustards, vinegars, oils, honeys and a shop selling “sweet mice” – an entire little shop just selling bags of lollies shaped like mice. The guide kept announcing “now ve vill just float over here to zis little shop and if you all just float in zis vay it should verk vell” so we just kept on floating! Vunderful! The day was rounded off wonderfully with our new American friends who were meeting another friend from their hometown of Muncie in Indianna for a meal at the Orange Katz and it was a very special farewell meal with them all. So now it is on to Gay Paree which is my favourite city and……. I am in charge of the P’s BUT the one in charge of the B’s is also in charge of ze bank so ‘e tells me so ve will see ‘ow zis goes! To my great stress he wants to write an instalment so I am guessing ‘e will tell you! Heaven forbid!