July 20, Berlin to Krakow
This morning our plan was to finish up Berlin before heading to Krakow Poland. We first walked back to Zoologischer Garten where the bakery was and got some scones before walking back to see the 220 foot tall Victory Column in the daylight. The column sits on a large base of red granite with reliefs of war scenes emblazoned on metal melted down from captured canons and is topped with a golden statue of Victoria, goddess of victory. There are some pieces of these reliefs that are missing. After World War II, France had control of the area where the column was located and they took the reliefs to Paris so that the Germans would not be reminded of their previous war victories. Eventually, most of the reliefs were returned in 1987, Berlins 750th anniversary. There are numerous pock marks in the granite which I'm guessing is damage from the war. That it survived the war intact was actually lucky on a couple of accounts. Firstly, the column had been relocated to its current site by the Nazis in 1939 from its original site near the Reichstag which was destroyed in the WWII air raids. Secondly, when the French had control of the area after the war, they wanted to destroy the column with dynamite but the Americans and British would not let that happen. Once again we walked through Tiergarten Park back to the Reichstag to see if we could get a reservation. It would have taken an hour to get through the line for a ticket then a 2 hour wait before your reservation time. That probably would not have left us enough time to make it back to the hotel to get our bags and get to the airport for the flight to Krakow so we had to miss that. It would have been interesting. On our way back to the hotel to get our baggage we stopped for a curry sausage (a yummy Berlin favorite) then we were off to the airport. Reflecting on our stop in Berlin, two things stand out. A lot of the most important and significant parts of German history (at least in my opinion) have occurred only in the last 100 years going back to World War I. The other is that unlike London and especially Paris, most buildings here are fairly new because 80-90 percent of the area we visited in Berlin was destroyed in WWII. Our flight to Krakow was 1 hour on a Dash 8 propeller plane. Upon descent once under the clouds, you could see the farm fields below. Each field appears to be only a few hundred feet wide but about a mile long and the farms houses are all lined up along the roads. I am guessing under communism each farmer must have been given a stretch of land to work but maybe I am wrong. It did make for a very interesting pattern unlike the mile wide blocks we see in our farmlands. Upon arrival we got outside the airport, purchased our bus tickets from an automated dispenser and asked the bus driver if we were getting on the correct bus. He said yes but didn't take our ticket stubs which I was holding out. After 30 minutes we arrived at the station a short way from our hostel. A transit officer boarded and asked for our tickets which I gave to him. He said ``these are not validated``, apparently you are supposed to stick them in a machine on the bus to time stamp them and the bus driver never said anything to us about that as we got on. So we ended up having to pay a fine of $35 CAD each. Welcome to Krakow stupid tourists hahaha. That kinda put a damper on the evening, I hate giving away money for nothing, Grrrrrrr. Our hostel is located right in the town square. It is almost like a carnival or party atmosphere. There are cafe`s and restaurants lining the square, a music concert going on, marketers selling items and lots of people milling about. We sat and each ordered a plate of pierogy (they were really good) I had a beer and Brenna had a green mint girly drink. Afterwards we called it an evening, retired to the hostel room, made some calls, and I wrote the blog for today and part of yesterday and holy cow look at the time, 2:00 am!!! Good night.