Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 28, 2011: Berlin - Potsdam, Olive Wood, Caspar David Friedrich, Biergarten

Today I took the train out to the town of Potsdam, which had been recommended to me as a must-see while in Berlin. It has many preserved historic buildings, both palaces and townhouses.

I opted for a guided bus tour of the town, since the major sites were fairly widespread. We had a chance to get out at all the stops and walk around, which was nice, although I didn't really get to see any of the downtown. The train station, unfortunately, is on the outskirts.

Happily, however, I did accomplish a shopping goal while in the train station - I purchased a lovely olive wood salad bowl set. I'd been looking for one for ages, convinced I would find one for sale in France, but never did - any olive wood bowl I found was very small. Somehow Mark and I had gotten fixated on the idea that this would be the perfect wedding gift for friends of ours, but I'd given up hope we would find it. But there, in the station, was exactly what I'd been looking for. Turns out all the big olive trees (or at least the ones being cut down, rather than harvested for olives) are in Africa (Tunisia, if I remember right).

After returning to Berlin I stopped in at the Alte Nationalgalerie, because it has paintings by a favourite artist of mine, Caspar David Friedrich. It was smaller than the museums I'd visited in the days prior, which is probably just as well, as I was starting to get a bit museumed out.

In the evening I met Mark and his colleagues from the university at one of the local Biergartens. There's certainly something a lot less formal about eating out in Germany, compared to France, that reminds me of being home in Toronto. It's just about time to return to Canada...

Sisters (but not, I think, twins) on our tour, dressed identically

Edible chard in the ornamental flower border

A roof with "eye" dormers

One of several palaces that we visited

Potatoes left at the grave of King Frederick II, who persuaded his subjects to eat them by setting up "guards" around his potato patch (making a formerly suspicious new plant suddenly desirable)

 Caspar David Friedrich "The Lone Tree" 1822

A detail of the painting - such a diverse array of colours in the green meadow

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