Day 5  

    September 6  Tuesday 


     We got any early start today and were on the S-bahn (above ground metro) by 9:00AM and headed towards Potsdam. It was a cool but beautiful morning. It was a half hour ride on a fast tram.  Potsdam is a separate city from Berlin. It is a place where the beauty and architecture wasn't destroyed during WW II.  There are a lot of palaces and beautiful homes. We stopped in the info center in the bahnhof (train station) and booked a bus tour for 11:00.  There were a number of tours but we wanted to go inside Sansoucci.  We took a bus tour - a double decker bus.  The guide spoke both German and English. The PA system on the bus wasn’t very good and the young lady guide spoke English very rapidly.  At times it was hard to understand her. The bus went through very interesting parts of town.

    Our first stop was at Cecilienhof  Palace, which had played a special role after the end of WWII as the meeting place of the victorious powers.   On August 8, 1945 at the Potsdam conference basic decisions to settle post-war problems were taken by Truman, Stalin and Churchill.   Schloss Cecilienhof  was built in 1913-17 as the last Prussian palace building.  It was designed as a half timbered complex surrounded by several courtyards.  Today it has become a memorial dedicated to the Potsdam Conference and is used as a hotel.


    We didn't go inside, but spent time outside.  Our guide gave us excellent information about the significance of this beautiful building. There were a number of lovely flower gardens.  I was particularly fascinated by the great variety of chimneys.

    The bus traveled through several very stately neighborhoods with huge houses.

     Our next stop was  Schloss Sanssouci.


    Sanssouci Palace, a masterpiece of Frederician rococo, was built by Frederick the Great as a summer residence based on his own designs and those of architect Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff.  It was completed in 1748 after three years of work.  “Sanssouci”, meaning “free of care”, is a one-story three-wing complex located high up on a vineyard especially created for it.  The palace was the favorite residence of the king, who relaxed there from duties of state by playing music and reading.

    The bus parked in a special tour bus lot and let us off.   We had to walk some distance to the palace, entering from the rear side.  This side is surrounded by a semi-circular colonnade which faced the ruins of another palace at some distance away.  We entered as a group.  Photography was allowed but you had to purchase a tag for your camera.   We first entered the vestibule which had fluted marble Corinthian columns with gold capitals.  The painted ceiling depicted Flora, the Roman deity of flowering and fertility.

    After passing through a long hall known as the Little Gallery because it contained a large collection of Fredericks favorite works of art, we came to Frederick’s bedchamber and study.  On display was the chair in which he died.  We visited several other beautiful rooms before we came to the center of the palace and the Marble Hall. 

    It was a large oval domed hall.  The dome was richly decorated with gold and a series of figures representing architecture, music and poetry, painting and sculpture, astronomy and geography. 

    There were countless number of putti (little angels) around these figures. After passing through several other rooms, we came to the front side of Sansscouci and the view over the vineyard.  The façade contains a large number of statues symbolizing Bacchus, the god of wine, plus more putti and a number of vases.

    We started down the steps, thinking maybe we were just going a level or so for a view…wrong!  We were going to walk all the way to the bottom.   My wife was concerned about her knee, but we made it.  At the bottom was a large fountain and the view back to the palace was spectacular.  We walked through some beautiful gardens, stopping at the exterior of the royal chapel, which was not open. 

    We ended the tour near Potsdam’s own Brandenburg Gate which was in town.  This all was an unexpected walk.  If you take a bus tour of Sanssouci Palace, be sure to ask about way you will get back to town from the Palace. The entire tour lasted four hours.

    In town there were a number of sidewalk cafes.  We stopped at Le Sorelle and split a schnitzel  and potato salad. We took a bus back to the bahnhof and caught the S bahn back to our apartment stop. 

    A travel tip.  We became aware on the train to Potsdam that we did not have a “C” ticket in our Berlin Welcome Card.  Going to Potsdam required that.  Most everyone in Berlin and the other cities that we will visit must have had permanent passes to all the transportation as we rarely saw anyone put a ticket in the toll box. We never saw anyone checking tickets.  To be safe on the way home, we purchased just a “C” in a tobacco shop in the bahnhof.   We will find later that is difficult to find a place that sells metro tickets.

    One thing that my wife wanted to see before leaving Berlin was the Pergamom Altar in the Pergamonmuseum on Museum Island near the Berlinerdom.  We got back to our stop at 4:45 and the museum closed at 6:00. We weren’t that far away and got there in 20 minutes.


    The Pergamonmuseum was built between 1910 and 1930, and was the last of the five museums constructed on what is known as Museum Island.  It was designed with three separate wings, now housing the Collection of Classical Antiquities with the three halls of Greek and Roman architecture, the Museum of the Ancient Near East and the Museum of Islamic Art.  The museum is currently being restored and extended in certain sections.

    The first section that one enters is the Collection of Classical Antiquities which dates back to the time of the Brandenburg electors and was founded in 1830.  The main attraction is the Pergamon Altar (circa 170 BC).   It encompasses the entire wall of this very large room.  The frieze on it and the other walls of this room, is regarded as one of the masterpieces of Hellenistic sculpture and depicts the battle between the gods and giants.  

    In another room is the Market Gate of Miletus which dates back to the early 2nd century.    Going through this gate takes you into the Museum of the Ancient Near East.  The main attractions include the huge architectural reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate with its colorful splendor, and the Processional Way of Babylon  dating back to the time of Nebuchadnezzar II (6th c. BC).  It was a beautiful color of blue with magnificent 3 D lions parading the walls.

    We wanted to see the Museum of the Ancient Near East but time only allowed us a quick glance.   It would be worth a trip back to Berlin just to spend more time in this museum.  Maybe next time we could also visit the other four museums on the island.

    We walked back to the front of the Berlinerdom and took more pictures.

    We stopped at the Radisson hotel where the big fish tank is and had drinks served by the same bartender.  Then we walked a block more toward our hotel and stopped in Block House - steak chain - for dinner. It was very crowded.  It was getting cool out but there were heaters in the outdoor café. It was a rather good steak.

    This is our last night in Berlin.  We catch a 10:30 train to Dresden in the morning.  We really love Berlin.  There is so much to see.  Even though we saw all of the highlights, there is a lot more to see.  We want to come back.

    Next Day

    Day 1 - Berlin

    Day 2 - Berlin

    Day 3 - Berlin

    Day 4 - Berlin

    Day 5 - Berlin - Potsdam

    Day 6 - Dresden

    Day 7 - Dresden

    Day 8 - Prague

    Day 9 - Prague - Kutna Hora

    Day 10 - Prague

    Day 11 - Brno

    Day 12 - Budapest

    Day 13 - Budapest

    Day 14 - Budapest

    Day 15 - Vienna

    Day 16 - Vienna

    Day 17 - Vienna - Melk Abbey

    Day 18 - Vienna

    Day 19 - Salzburg

    Day 20 - Salzburg

    Day 21 - Salzburg