Operation Eurotrip Part 1: Getting there and Berlin Day 1

Welcome to Operation Eurotrip Part 1.

The day started a 7am cst as we rose to get ready and catch our flight originally scheduled for 9:27am. One of our wonderful neighbors was kind enough to take us to the airport so we don’t have to pay for parking. Get to the airport and through security without getting nude-o-scoped only to find out our flight had been delayed. How delayed nobody seems to know. Thank goodness we had a 5 hour layover in Washington Dulles.

I manage to track down our plane between the United Airlines app and flight track. It’s stuck in the weather snarl around Houston. 3 hours later it shows up and we’re on our way to Dulles. Incidentally Embraer ERJ-145s are not what I’d call comfortable but at least they’re not CRJ-200s.

2 hours later we find ourselves in Dulles. As we are taxing in what do I the aviation geek spot but a monster A380. Had to get a closer look and thankfully it was on the way to our next gate. Also got a close up look at a brand new Lufthansa B747-8 but no picture of it.

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monster plane

So we load up to head to Geneva on a nice new configuration B767. The first class is down right awesome from seat to service. Big comfy lie flat seat and a banging in flight entertainment system with new release movies music games and even audio books.

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nice big lay flat seat

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in flight entertainment system

There we sit on the plane sipping on welcome drinks and we wait and wait and wait some more. Delayed again due to a faulty navigation system control panel. Tack on another hour and then finally we’re in the air to Europe. Fantastic dinner service, a couple movies and a few hours sleep later and hello Geneva. As luck would have it we got a fantastic view of lake Geneva and the Alps as we came in to land.

Through passport control we go, back through security and on to a Lufthansa flight to Berlin. Couple hours later we are in Berlin.

Adventure #1 is just getting away from the airport. Originally we were supposed to fly in to Berlin Brandenburg which has a nice express rail link to downtown near the Berlin Hilton where we are staying. Well that airport opening was delayed so we end up going in to Berlin Tegal which has no rail links only buses.

Berlin transit kiosks don’t take visa cards, I have no cash and can’t find an atm that will take my check card. On top of that the line to the transit office is a mile long. We’ve had enough of his nonsense so we hop a cab and off to the Hilton we go.

20 minutes and 20 eur later we’re at the hotel. Beautiful hotel and check in is a breeze at the executive desk, one of the perks of Hilton hhonors gold status. Got a very nice room although no view of the Gendarmarket.

Now we’re off for our first sight seeing event, the Sauchenhausen concentration camp. Look at the map it looks simple enough to get there no problem. Hit the hotel atm and get 100 eur, go down into the u-bahn (subway) and hit our next obstacle. The atm gave me two 50 eur notes and Berlin transit kiosks won’t take them either. 3 vendors in the station and nobody will give us change unless we buy something. If that’s how you want to be guess who I won’t buy anything from. Back to the atm another 20 eur, and we have transit tickets.

Out to orianenburg we go. 45 minutes later we’re there and now for adventure 3. If you go to Berlin be aware that bathrooms can be few and far between especially when the only pay toilet is broken. Most restaurants are small enough they don’t have a public bathroom.

Clear that issue after 30 minutes and hop a cab to the camp.

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I won’t go into all the history of sachenhausen but suffice to say it was the first concentration camp. It is now a very large museum and memorial. We didn’t see the whole thing because by the time we got there there were only a couple hours till close and we had hit a fatigue wall and were ready to collapse.

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camp model

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message for help in a bottle

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prisoner's bowl and spoon

Above is a message in a bottle hidden in a wall with calls for help by one of the poor souls kept here. Also is a prisoner’s bowl and spoon one of the few possessions they were allowed.

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SS mess hall

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camp commandant's house

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You can tell this spent time as a Soviet/GDR memorial and musum.

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chemical corps door

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work makes you free. The big lie

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Soviet monument to prisoners

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Not sure where my external picture of the barracks went.

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bathroom

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arson damage from attack by right wing extremists in 92

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common area

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bunks

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wash room

As many as 400 people would have to use the wash room above in only 30 minutes and SS guards were known to drown people in the foot basins to the right for taking too long.

We only saw maybe 20 percent of the memorial before fatigue overtook us. All in all its a sad somber place made all the more so by the cold dreary rainy weather that is covering most of Europe including Berlin.

Finally we trudged back to the Hilton for a nap followed by room service now here I sitting blogging at about midnight local time.

My initial impressions of Berlin or honestly not all that good. The city that I’ve seen thus far is rather dirty unkempt and covered in graffiti. Hopefully this impression will change as we visit more places in the coming days.

I also hope the weather clears up but the forecast doesn’t support that hope. It looks to be cold cloudy and rainy everywhere through next week. Mid-60s cold and a nasty drizzly rain. So much for July. Oh well it is what it is.

Installment #2 tomorrow.

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