our target on the eve of the 23rd. The distance was a bit much for us and we
pulled up short at a truck stop about 170km north. Again, a stunner of a day.
The Baltic sea, or a very small part of it, was like a billiard table. We stood
out on the deck for some of the time but that was a bit much in a cotton shirt,
even on a very mild day! Everything in Denmark just seems to happen with a
minimum of fuss. Loading the ferry was like clockwork. The Greeks could learn.
Last time we crossed from Patras to Bari it took them hours to load! We managed
to spend every last kroner on the boat. How clever of us! Usually we have
assorted bits left over that we remember just after we've crossed the border!
the ferry terminal on the German side was in the old East Germany. Much seems to
have changed in this the northern door to the 'new Germany'. Old autobahns,
probably constructed in the 30s, have been ripped up and replaced by the
standard German engineering marvel.
dream of driving alone on a smooth super highway with no traffic in sight?
Northern Germany is the place, except in the dream it wasn't a 2500cc diesel
northern plains of Germany are far less densely populated than one might
imagine. Unlike the 'Dutch veldt', this is true 'open country'. Although it is
fairly heavily cultivated and grazed, it has open vistas more familiar to us.
into Berlin on a Sunday afternoon was relatively easy. For once we drove almost
directly to the camping ground, which wasn't bad as Janita had to follow
directions in German, the language of the Camping Grounds book supplied with the
van. Not our best foreign language!
suburban Berlin on the old eastern side is rather pleasant. At fifteen or so kms
from the city centre we are in a cluster of villages, only slightly spoilt by
new industry that is the obvious result of reunification. However, as we
travelled into the city by train the decayed remnants of GDR were all around.
Derelict factories lined the track for miles. We also suspect that the current
line was simply built beside the old, as there are five or six huge, deserted,
rusted marshalling yards adjacent to the main S-bahn line. The overall
impression that we were left with was that the rebuilding of Berlin is a bit
bigger task than the German government first envisaged. Even central Berlin is
upside, we visited the Pergamon Museum. Whole ancient buildings have been
reconstructed, shipped (looted!) from Turkey and the Middle East in the early
part of the 20th century and painstakingly assembled in the purpose-built
a haze of snow (electronic!) we watched Cathy Freeman win the 400m this morning
(25/9). Even if the call was in German, the excitement of the race and the
adulation accorded transcended language. The games have put Australia well and
truly on the map, if only for a few weeks. Every radio station we scan past is
Sydney, Australia, Cathy Freeman... and bloody Marion Jones (US)!!! What the
hell did she do? We figure she won the 100m, but what else has got them all
worked up? Every thing that is not Australia is Odl.. doo .delee.. Marion Jones!
Men at Work's, 'Land Downunder' is even played on the muzac in the toilets!
Savage (bloody) Garden, and even Olivia Neutron Bomb flood the airwaves. McD's
promotion that was on at home, 'If Australia wins ... you win!" is also on
in Germany - and it is just that - If Australia wins they get a free
A quiet day today (25/9).
Cleaned up a bit. Went shopping at a nearby village supermarket. Terrorised the
locals with our 'German' and came home. Nice park. by the sea. If it was a
little warmer (22C today) I'm sure we would have seen some crazy Germans
September - 3 October
badly, this morning! Woke at 9.00am, having to catch the bus at 10.05. Now that
might sound like plenty of time BUT we are on holidays and we don't move that
fast. However we made it in time and made our three other connections to get to
the city at a civilised hour, about 11.30am.
everywhere attest to the creation of the new Germany. But as mentioned before,
this is a huge task and the end product may not be evident for another decade.
about in big cities - and Berlin is a very big city! can be daunting but also
fun and part of the challenge of travel. We seem to get lost less frequently,
but walking into a station ten times the size of Brisbane Central with thousands
of people who DO know where they are going is not easy. On the way home the
trains were packed. Hands on cameras, wallets and passports.
have been blockading the city for weeks now over fuel taxes. We are not sure but
today seems to have been more full-on than anything so far. There were literally
thousands of trucks. The news tonight said seven thousand! That's a lot of
trucks. The politzei were every where but there were no real problems. All
seemed peaceful. From the Column of Victory which stands on the Strasse de 17
Juni, we could see trucks to the Reichstag at one end and out to the distance
beyond our sight the other way.
Ono has committed an 'act d'art' on the Unter den Linden (the place to see and
be seen!). A standard railway wagon stands on a small length of track in a very
sedate square which is actually the site of the old Palace of Berlin which the
East German government decided was beyond help following war damage. It was
destroyed in 1950. The wagon has been raked with gun fire from inside and out..
And that's it!
Charlie was a bit of a non-event - a little sentry box twice the size of a
"dunny" - sandbagged, and with a mini-billboard featuring a US soldier
in front of it. We missed the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie as we were anxious to
catch the train to link us with the tram which would enable us to catch the last
bus home. But, as we remember the way it was in 1987, it tugged at the
seems so odd to be in a strange country with a strange language and come across
"familiar "sights. The TV tower as we passed it struck a chord. We
remember seeing it last time - even the side of the street we were on - also the
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - there was a baby East German soldier there whom we
photographed with James last time. Most of it however is new and unusual - the
language especially - What the hell are they saying over the
microphones/TV/radio? Should we
evacuate? Or celebrate???? People seem to be willing to help us poor Philistines -
especially kids who have learned English in school. When we jabber away to each
other, they ask if they can help or speak to us in English -- so comforting to
those of us who struggle with menus, directions and S-Bahn lines.
we move on to Dresden and then to Poland. More reconstructed Eastern countryside
and cities await. We suspect that what we have seen in the old GDR will be far
better progress than in the rest of the old Soviet empire. But that's what we
came to see.......
"short" drive down the highway, with bits of 'unreconstructed' East
German road to forewarn us of what we can expect in Poland. On to Dresden or
thereabouts. Stopped near Moritzberg - Camping am Sonnenland - about 20 minutes
by bus outside Dresden. The drive here was just long enough to dry our
"smalls" over the heater vents. Perfect.
is amazing! It was re-constructed after the 1945 fire-bombing. You can
understand why the Germans were so 'issed off with the bombing. What a beautiful
city it must have been.
has continued since the end of the war. The Russians did pretty well it seemed
to us - although we could see the newer bits among the old. However, it seems it
was not good enough for the "New Germany" - they're re-constructing the re-constructions - roads,
schlosses. bridges - you name it! The old (original?) bits lie in piles beside
the re-constructions - carefully numbered of course - but .... if they're going
to re-build the Frauenkirche, they're going to need more "bits".
Is this a way of honouring the long-since past or simply eradicating the
last forty years of Russian rule?? All
in all, an interesting city, with its Neustadt and Altstadt clearly delineated
by the Augustusbrucke (bridge). We are 20 minutes outside the centre of town and
we're in the middle of farming land. Imagine Holland Park as the centre of a
are so-o-o-o obedient!! If the speed limit is 80 that's what we go - if there is
a little red man we 'nein walk' - passing lanes are just that!!
Makes life easier for us dumb tourists.
five km to the Polish border tomorrow. I suppose we expect much the same as we
encountered 12 years ago going into East Germany. We suspect things might be a
little less formal. But with visas to inspect and car papers to scrutinise there
is still ample opportunity for a 'non-reconstructed' Polish border guard to
'make our day!'........
Turned away from the Polish border! After a wait of no more than 20 mins -
surprising after all the horror stories we have read - we were waved into a
holding bay. Seems our visas are effective from 2 October,-
three days away! A very apologetic border guard (obviously
reconstructed!) explained the problem and was very clear that if we came back in
three days there would be 'no problem'. Rather than cruise around rural East
Germany for another three days, we elected to return to Dresden (about 80km) and
set off tomorrow for Prague. We will go back north into Poland later. At least
we fared better than the several kms of trucks and Polish-registered vehicles
towing cars (wonder why?) who are probably still there!
motorway from Dresden to the Polish border is probably the best of the best we
have driven on to date, and we should know - we drove it twice today! One can't
help wondering whether if the Germans are hedging their bets in case they ever
need to invade Poland AGAIN! - History would say that there is always a good
chance someone will want to invade Poland.
countryside is still very open and lightly populated. Weather still great, warm,
22C+, some haze? We are not sure whether it is pollution (doubt it) or a normal
seasonal phenomenon. Except for a few light drops last night we still have seen
no rain! Strange thunder too. It seemed as if a rogue thundercloud rumbled past
- much like every car on the autobahn - Brrroooom!
- on its way somewhere else!
A Greek ferry sank somewhere yesterday - we think - saw it on TV last night (part of our mobile telecommunications set-up) - but we're not sure when or why and Lizzie has, so far, been unable to enlighten us, although she is keeping us up to date with the medal tally via SMS messages. This modern technology is so-o-o-o-o cool!