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Getting out of Brussels is not easy! This is more so if the weather is not great. The journey starts overcast but by the time I get to the border with Germany it’s positively chucking with rain. I’m wearing the overall but there is a limit beyond which any weather gear cannot go and around lunch time I need to stop just to dry up a bit.

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This part of the trip is just a getting from A to B as I am leaving Fabrizia in Brussels and visiting Leticia, another good friend from the past, in Berlin. The distance between the two places is however too big to be covered in one day and, despite using mainly motorways I have to pause mid journey in Hanover.

Germany is not a country in which I have spent a lot of time. I’m familiar with the Colone, Düsseldorf area, and I’ve been to Berlin and Chemnitz, when it was still called Karlmarxstad, but I have always landed there without seeing what is in between. Now I know, the biggest piece of flat land I’ve ever seen.

The Hanover stopover is really badly needed, luckily there are radiators in the room so I manage to dry most of my stuff. It’s only six in the afternoon when I check into the City Hotel Garni, a rather starless establishment that, as well as rest, will provide me with the most synthetic breakfast I ever had. Given the early time and the fact that it’s not raining anymore, I decide to go for a wonder and see if I can find something to eat.

Walking around Hanover at night
Lots of it looks post war, I can only assume that it was comprehensively bombed during the war.
Traditional German centre of town as I would expect.
With statue to the pater patriae

The walk through town is really enjoyable and, knowing there is a large Turkish presence in Germany, I settle on a donner kebab which proves to be a good choice.

On the way to Berlin I find my helmet factory.

I leave relatively early in the morning as I know Leticia will be home and plan to make the most of our time together. This section of road is easy and, aside from admiring the remarkable fortification that was the old East/West Germany border, with little to see.

To make things easier I switch on the phone sat nav as I get close to Berlin and putting my earbuds on I listen to her voice directing me right where I need to go.

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And so I get there and I’m met by Leticia. We take a few minutes to think about the best place where I can park the motorbike and, after a coffee and a chat we go and pick up Claudia, Leticia’s daughter, from school and we take her to the swimming club.

As all people in a “normal” life, Leticia has got things to do and among them there is a parent night at school. We leave Claudia in the swimming pool watched over by Lutz, Leticia’s husband, who has now joined us, and while Leticia goes to her school night I take a stroll down to Alexanderplatz and along towards the Pergamonmuseum.

Walk in East Berlin
Don’t walk in East Berlin
Always impressive
Always depressing
Somebody will look a this and thing: we were here.
Tempting but I will resist.

I get back to the flat and they are all home, Lutz’s english is basic but between it, and a bit of translation we have a good conversation. After dinner Leticia and I go out for a drink and both discover how much an impact ageing has had on our capacity to drink. I think we had two beers each but they felt more like ten.

Of all the things I could take a picture of…

The following day I am largely taken around by Leticia who, as a  true Berliner, is a perfect guide. I will let the pictures speak fro themselves. On the way home we have a spicy sausage and chips, WOW!!!!

These packs are almost everywhere and they signpost the houses where Jew that died in concentration camps lived.
Berlin synagogue, impressive.
I quite like the juxtaposition of old and new
by no mean the only ones taking this picture.
And next to the Raichstag

Of course in the afternoon we go to get Claudia and after getting her to try the bike I get a lesson at cards. We hit it off well the two of us, I tech her a bit of Italian and in exchange she teaches me a little Spanish.

Might be a bit too high.
She was better than me

The last day consists of a failed attempt to go on the dome of the Reichstad, and a trip to Potsdam. The weather is really good and even if the autumn is drawing nearer the temperature is still good. Leticia tells me I’ve been really lucky with the weather.

No can do, queue too long
Super new station just by the Reichstad.
Some cool building in the centre of Postdam
The building next to it.
Of course the old soviet style is still to be seen
And it’s less than impressive.

Other than Potsdam town the two destinations that Leticia takes me to are Schloss Cecilienhof and Sanssouci Palace.

The first is now a museum, dedicated to the event that took place there at the end of the second world war, namely the third and final conference of WW2 victors in which they decided the distribution of spheres of influence over the world, eventually leading to the cold war.

Cecilienhof entrance
Great garden and gray hair.

Next, a ticketless bus ride away,  and we’re at Sanssouci, the summer palace of the Kaiser. It’s rather impressive and the scatter cloud cover offers added dramatic value.

Gazebo with the famous sun emblem.
Classical folly at the end of the vista
In detail
The south facing side
With the central fountain
Portico and church in the grounds
Impressive neoclassic order
in detail
And then the gate.

Great day and great stay in Berlin. Another meal with the family and I’m ready to take the route south towards Italy.

It was great to see Leticia, I had not seen her since our wedding, and to meet her husband and daughter. I really need to try and stay much in touch with friends.

A serious portrait.
And a fun one.

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