Thursday, December 1, 2011


Today is our LAST day in Switzerland, after an AMAZING four and a half months...  I will happily go  down memory lane to share the last two weeks of our Eurail Pass adventure.  I left off in Helsinki, where there are more hair salons per capita than in southern California...  They also translate "pull" on doors to "drag" so let me drag you back in time...

November 17, 2011
We got up at 3:30 am Helsinki time, which is 2:30 am for “most of Europe time” where we are heading back now!  After a quick cup of coffee we caught a bus to the airport to catch a flight to Berlin.  From the Berlin airport we caught another bus to the Hauptbahnof (main train station) where we began to play tourist.

Or, I should say, we tried to play tourist – but it was soooooo cold!  There was a bone-chilling fog, complete with a breeze, and it was definitely below freezing.  We shivered our way on a brief walking tour to the amazingly awesome and incredibly depressing Holocaust Memorial.  It is impossible to contemplate the relentless killing of Jews, Romas, homosexuals, people with disabilities, and any sympathizers...

Holocaust Memorial
The Holocaust is clearly enough to cause enough angst for a lifetime; but Berlin also has the Cold War “thing”, aka the Iron Curtain embodied in the concrete and wire of the Berlin Wall.  The wall went down in 1989, as some of you joyfully remember.  Just a bit remained in 1990 and was preserved as a wall for artists.  We took the S-bahn farther east.  I was happy to find a vendor selling Glühwein or Grog – so for just 1.5 euros (about $2) we were able to hold a cup of hot, spiced wine and walk along the entire remnant section known as the “East Side Gallery”.  Here is just a small sampling of that art.

Darrell at the East Side Gallery
Famous and Controversial!
The Power of Art...
I love this one!
The wine ran out, the gallery ended, and at this point we were human popsicles.  We shuffled into the train station and thawed out – deciding to take in one more cold war attraction before we called it a day.  Checkpoint Charlie.

Checkpoint Charlie preserved
 Then we literally ran, not to catch the train, but just to stay warm, and got back to the main train station for the next stage of our adventure.  I’d love to see more of Berlin in the summer…  though at least we don’t have to elbow other tourists out of the way in November.  And there is something to be said for seeing these grim reminders of awful times on a frigid blustery day when it is hard enough being an American tourist – not a soldier, or a refugee, or an innocent person being “transported”…

Let's leave on a sweeter note, though...
Darrell's reaction to German sweets!

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