Tuesday 5th May.
After an uneventful drive along the secondary roads past small villages and farms we arrived at the Netzers home in the north of Berlin. We were greeted by Ann who was an exchange student with my sister Debbie in country Victoria about 10 years ago. A short time later her in-laws to be Jorg and Regina Netzer arrive home from work. We are then led out to their back yard to open champagne to celebrate their new cars. Two beautiful late model Mercedes cars that they were very proud to show off to us. We have a lovely evening catching up and having good food and drink. There seems to be an idea here in Europe that we like to drink a lot and it is hard to resist the hospitality that is offered to us.
Wednesday we were driven into Berlin by Ann taken to Jorg's workshop where he works as a mechanic/ restorer for a man who has an unique collection of rare cars mainly Mercedes. We were very impressed with the vehicles that have been lovingly restored and kept in tip top condition. He explained about his work and told us many stories of his exploits travelling the world looking for parts and taking the cars to racing and rally events.
After leaving the workshop Ann took us further into the city where we caught a tourist hop on - hop off bus and we had the chance to sight see and learn about much of the highlights of the area. We learnt much of the history of Berlin and we enjoyed seeing the sights and the people going about the town. That evening we were taken by the Netzers to a typical Berlin pub for a schnitzel night. We were joined there by their friends Little Mick, his wife Claudia their son Hendric, the Netzer's son Sebastian, his girlfriend Tabia, Anne and later by her fiancé Fabian. It was very good value with a two for one deal and much beer and wine to drink. Schnitzels ranged from normal to extra, extra large which 2 of the young boys ate with a bit of help. (see photo must be seen to be believed).
The next day we were on our own, catching the bus to the train station and then getting off at the Brandenburg Gate. We were going on a Bear hunt. ( The bear is the mascot of Berlin and many are to be seen colourfully decorated all over the city)
We tried to visit the Reichstag, but found that unlike last time when we could just line up, we had to book three days in advance on the internet and so we admired it from the outside before walking off to the Holocaust memorial. This we found quite interesting and we sat for a bit reflecting on the possible meaning and symbolism of the blocks of concrete of all different heights that covered a large area of prime city real estate.
From the memorial we walked up the road towards the Sony centre stopping on the way at a Starbucks for a coffee frappe. (yum) Then it was back on the tourist bus which is a convenient way to get around to all the more interesting tourist spots. We got off the bus at Check point Charlie, spent some time reading about the history of the Berlin Wall and doing a bit of people watching as the area was pretty crowded with people from all over the world.
After another short ride on the bus we then stopped at a large shopping area and went in to look at a department store. We were quite impressed with the large food department and after having a look around decided to ride up the escalators to see what else they had.
We decided then to have lunch at the cafeteria on the top floor which ended up being a very pleasant meal.
Back on the bus for the long windy route back to the meeting place for our ride back with Jorg and Regina. It ended up being much longer than we had planned due to road works and closures for the European Cup football championship. All around Brandenburg Gate and the Tier garden was fenced off in preparation for a huge outdoor football viewing area.
That evening was spent with Jorg, Regina, Ann, Big Mick and the three of us outside on the terrace enjoying a bbq and the usual drinks.
We had a lovely time in Berlin, it is a very good city to sightsee and hospitality of the Netzers was truly generous. ( Our motto is: Fish and friends go off in 3 days ) So we don't like to outstay our welcome and we have another date with some lovely people in Poznan, Poland so it was time to say our goodbyes and leave for the next Country on our tour.
Till next time..