Week in Review: Week 2
It was a busy week, we had 7 straight days of activities and plans, so as we reflected on this week it was hard to pick our highlights! In this last week we explored Prague, hiked in northwestern Czech, made our way to the town of Wittbrietzen, explored Berlin, spent a few days in Potsdam, and were lucky enough to be in the spargel (white asparagus) capital of Germany during the spargel season to enjoy some tasty meals.
We are now in northern Germany, in a town called Oldenburg in Holstein, and we have no activities planned for the next few days. It’s nice to have a bit of a break, especially since our next week will be very busy. Starting Monday we head to Scandinavia, and a week from today we will be in Norway. So we have some busy travel days ahead of us!
Before heading north, we wanted to reflect on some of our highlights, and lowlights, from this past week.
Highlight of the week
Sharleen: I loved the balance we had between exploring large cities and getting out of town to hike and walk through parks. My highlight of the week would be either one of our outdoor adventures - hiking to Pravcicka Brana or Rakotzbrucke - and if I had to choose one, it would be Rakotzbrucke. The visit to Rakotzbrucke was a two hour detour on our way from the Czech Republic to Berlin, but it was definitely worth it! It's a popular tourist destination, but even with all of the visitors, it was such a peaceful and calming place. The bridge is so interesting, and was built by one individual over a 10 year period in the 19th century. We went pretty early in the season, so the water level was not very high, but you could still see the circle that is created in the reflection of the water. I'd highly recommend a visit if you are anywhere near the area. Try to go as early as possible to beat the tourist rush, and I imagine the fall colours would be beautiful if you could go in the autumn months.
Darrell: We saw so many places and things this past week, but I would say the Berlin Wall Memorial was the highlight for me. Being able to stand on what used to be West Germany, East Germany, and the "Death Strip" really forced me to reflect on what the people of East & West Germany lived through, and how fortunate I am to have grown up in Canada. The memorial was very well done. There are a bunch of different exhibits that take you on a journey from pre-1961 and through the entire process of the wall being built and then eventually being taken down. It was an extremely memorable experience.
Least favourite part of the week
Sharleen: Driving around to find change for parking. After two weeks we have finally learned that we need to carry at least 10-15 euro in coins for parking. A few times this week we've had to make detours to stop at gas stations, coffee shops, ask strangers, etc for change. This was particularly frustrating when we went to Rakotzbrucke, as we arrived with only about 10 other cars in the parking lot, but when we realized we didn't have 2 euro in coins for parking, we had to take a 45 minute detour to find a gas station to get some change. When we returned to the parking lot, there were easily over a hundred cars, and two tour buses. Even thinking back to my favourite highlight of the week, I almost couldn't chose Rakotzbrucke because of how annoying it was to take the change detour.
Darrell: Stinging Nettle. I first encountered this garbage plant on the first day of our adventure, when we went to take some pictures of a castle after hours. I stepped into some greenery off the path, and immediately felt this irritating, itchy, and stinging sensation - kind of like I'd touched a thistle repeatedly. There was nothing on my skin, but the irritation continued until I rinsed off my leg with some water. I encountered the same sensation again this week, and I took a guess at which plant had grazed my leg and took its picture. After a quick google search, I discovered this menace of a plant was called stinging nettle. At least now I know what it looks like and can watch out for it the next time I stray off the path.
Favourite city/town/village visited
Sharleen: Potsdam. This city really surprised me. It was a beautiful city, with interesting buildings, architecture, and picturesque parks. In two days we walked over 20km across this city, most of that time was spent exploring the palaces and castles within Sanssourci Park and Babelsberg Park. It would be a beautiful city to bike through, and mid-way through the second day we wished we had rented bikes to explore more of the city. One thing that worked out quite well for us was that both of the Sanssourci and Babelsberg castles were closed on the day we visited the parks. It's too bad we were not able to go inside of these beautiful building, but it did leave the parks realitively peaceful with not many tourists. This was especially the case with Babelsberg Park, where we saw maybe 6 other people over our 4 hour walk. It gave us some time to experiment taking pictures with different styles, timers, and our tripod.
Darrell: Berlin. I don't think saying Berlin was AWESOME would really surprise anyone. It has an insane amount of history dating back over 600 years. From the Kingdom of Prussia, the Empire of Germany, The Third Reich, then the Cold War, the global impact that this city has had has always been very interesting to me! I love learning about history and especially World War I and II, so I do not think I could have been more of a nerd walking through these streets. We were only in Berlin for one day, but seeing the Reichstag building, Check Point Charlie, and the Berlin Wall remnants were all very exciting. If you have the chance to see Berlin, take a day (or a week) and see everything that this place has to offer.
Sharleen and Darrell: While staying in Wittbrietzen, we were so fortunate to stay at an Airbnb hosted by Hella. It was our first time staying in a shared accommodation set up, we usually book entire apartments with no shared rooms. However, our experience with Hella was the best you could hope for. Communication was a little tricky, as we definitely do not speak German, and Hella spoke few words in English, however Google translate helped us communicate very well over our four night stay. On our last night, Hella offered to make us dinner, featuring local spargel, and it was amazing! It was quite the feast, and we were very fortunate to have such an amazing meal. She made 6 dishes, featuring local ingredients - the potatoes and parsley were even from her own garden! Needless to say, we went to bed with very full bellies, and such appreciation for the time and effort she put in to make us a great meal. We truly felt like we were eating with a family member, and we will always remember the special time we had during that stay.
The amazing experiences continued this week, and we are looking forward to what next week brings as we start our journey to Scandinavia.