Day 10 Berlin not divided, but not the same.
Using our trusty map, we head off to find Templehof airport. As we know from history, this is the site of the Berlin airlift in 1948-49. My dad was here with the Air Force in 1961 during the construction of the wall. They were preparing for another 'Berlin Airlift' it didn't happen
We first come on the control tower where my dad worked. After a few photos, we went looking for the location of my dad's old office. The airport, built by Hitler in the '30s is enormous! It's horseshoe shaped and goes on forever or so it seemed as we drove around.
We hear a voice from the side "Where ya'll from?" A large guy comes over and tells us that he too is ex-Air Force and stayed in Berlin. And, under the title of "you never know where you're going to meet someone from home", he says he is from near New Orleans, my hometown!
He further tells us some of the history of the airport, including the secret underground area where the SS stored records and information. The troops arriving in Berlin at the end of the war discovered the facility and confiscated the data in storage. We stop at the airlift memorial, just like the one at the other end at Frankfurt airport, for a quick photo before we leave the airport.
As we were in 'history' mode, we went to find "Checkpoint Charlie". It was one of the best known "border points" between the US and Russian sectors. There is a museum where you can buy a piece of the wall (I did), which my dad was certain was just "any piece of concrete". There is a complete section of the wall on display, but not in it's original location. We were told that there is only one section of the wall in the original location and that is in a park nearby. A few more photo's and it was time to find the old main drag of the western section where my dad spend much time 'researching' the 'local color'.
But, what do we encounter but a Sunday 'in-line skating' race! So, we attempt to navigate around the race in our search for the Reichstag, Hitler's 'office' near the Brandenburg gate. I'm beginning to feel like the Russian troops arriving in 1945 looking for Hitler we know he's here somewhere, but how do you get there from here? Finally, we arrive and take the necessary photos, impressed by the size of the building. There's a large empty area in front of the main entrance I could imagine Hitler, delivering a speech to the believers, eagle holding a swastika high above.
For our next event we seek the Kaiser-Wilheim-Gedächtniskireche . It was mostly destroyed during the bombing and rather than being rebuild, was left as a reminder of the destruction of war. But, attached to the old church is the new, very modern, chapel. An interesting juxtaposition of old and new!
Time to head out of downtown in search of Spandau prison But first, we have to get around another race, this one a foot race somehow weaving around the very streets we needed to get past in order to reach our destination. Another 20 minutes and we were on the way.
The prison is quite old, the second half of the 16thc, large and surrounded by a moat. Most of the war criminals were held here, the most infamous being Rudolf Hess who died within its walls. Our departure form the area was, this time, uneventful as we headed toward Köln.
Even after a quick stop in Brandenburg for a quick lunch and a Schöfferhofer Weizen at the Dom café, we were moving along quick nicely. Not so fast! Approaching Hanover, we encounter one of those Autobahn traffic jams we hear about. A dead stop for nearly two hours. The locals make a social event of it chatting, snacking, over the rails to 'relieve' themselves. I took this opportunity to try to organize the trunk of the car that by now was overflowing with beer, glasses and other trip collectibles.
Along the way we note the large number of windmills. We've been seeing them all through Germany, mostly the new kind. But here we encounter so me interesting old ones in very good and still working condition more photos.
As it was getting late, we randomly picked a town for the night; Bielefeld. As luck would have it, there was a brewpub only two blocks from the hotel. The Brahaus Joh. Albrecht was quite nice with an attractive brewing area within the restaurant. I got a quick tour and noted fermenting tanks with water flowing from the top on the outside and interesting way to cool the lager. While having the Kristal and Heffe dark, we notice that the standard in Germany is that the places are not set with silverware and napkins, but those items are delivered to the table on a plate. Not a bad idea!
Note: This link, German Beer Photo Tour,
is the same tour referenced in Days 8, 9 and 10.
Back to Belgium 2001