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The Slowhands cruise around Europe ~ Part 6 [Warnemünde/Berlin]

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Slowhand, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. Slowhand
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    Slowhand Cruise Director Forum Host

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    Thursday July 22nd
    General Info.

    Warnemünde, near Rostock is situated on the N. German coast east of the Kiel Canal entrance and west of the Baltic Sea.
    Originally a small fishing village, it was purchased from the Prince of Mecklenburg in 1323 and grew to be Germany`s fifth largest maritime centre for all of Germany`s shipping, shipbuilding and fishing industries.
    During the Russian occupation after WW2, Warnemünde was a summer retreat for the Communist elite and government leaders.
    The port is a gateway to the great city of Berlin.


    Yet again I awoke early as the ship was approaching Warnemünde where we docked at around 6.30 am.
    As we approached the dock, I noticed that the private train arranged by DCL was already in place very close to the ship`s berth.
    We had to grab a quick breakfast at Topsider`s as our tour today was due to depart at 7.15 am. The tour we chose was “Berlin`s Turbulent History Tour” as opposed to the “Berlin Past and Present Tour” selected by our friends from LA, Doug, Michelle & Dani.

    After meeting up at the Walt Disney Theatre we were then taken off the ship in small groups, each group being assigned it`s own lettered carriage on the train which had loads of carriages as it was to carry all of the Berlin tours apart from the one that we had chosen. By chance, our friends were actually given the adjacent carriage to ours.
    The process of getting everyone to the train was a very organised process, top marks to DCL. :thumbsup:
    As we waited on the train waiting for the other passengers to board, I suddenly had a “Schindler`s List moment”, recalling the plight of those unfortunate souls on a similar train 70 or so years ago full of anticipation of being taken to a new location! [Michelle had the same thoughts as she told me later.] :sorry:

    At 8.00 am we were off on the way to Berlin, a journey time of around 3 hours travelling through the countryside of what used to be East Germany….no photos here, when you`ve seen one green field, you`ve seen them all! :lol:
    Several young female attendants were on the train, around one to each pair of carriages, who gave us some information about the country and gave us all a prepared snack in a paper bag along with a bottle of water for the journey.

    As we approached Berlin we spotted a small section of the Wall so I managed to grab a hasty shot.
    At the train station in Berlin, we were met and escorted to where the bus was waiting for us by one of the entrances to begin our tour.
    After a short while we had a brief stop to view the “East Side Gallery” which are the last remains of the Berlin Wall, and these have been decorated by several professional artists, and again the ship`s photographer was at hand if required.
    We had been warned by our guide not to purchase any fragments of the wall from any street vendors as these would inevitably be fakes. She said that if they had all been genuine then the wall would have to have been four times it`s actual length! :lol:
    I have visited Germany numerous times on business trips but I have always wanted to visit Berlin and I could hardly believe that I was actually here standing alongside one of the last remaining relics of the Cold War, totally awe inspiring.
    We were told that although hardly any sections of the Wall remain, two lines of cobbles are laid on the sidewalks in Berlin where the Wall previously stood.
    Yet again, I had to take most my photographs through the window of a moving bus :furious: but I managed to get a reasonable shot of a fabulous sand sculpture as we passed by on the opposite side of the road across from the Wall.

    During the rest of the morning we did in fact make a few stops, visiting the Opernplatz [site of the “book burning” in 1933] and the war memorial along the Unter den Linden, but sadly I had to contend with a view from the bus of the Holocaust Memorial, one of those places that I thought worthy of a least a few minutes of visiting time.
    It was then onto the Brandenburg Gate where we met up with Doug and his family who`s tour coincided with ours at this stage. We had a few minutes here and again the ship`s photographer was in attendance. This was another of my “must see” sights in Berlin, even though our stop was only a short one.

    DCL had arranged for us to all have an excellent lunch at a 5 star hotel in the centre of Berlin :thumbsup:, after which it was back on the bus for our next stop, Checkpoint Charlie, another icon of the cold war and the scene of what could easily been the start of WW3 not too long ago when Russian and Allied tanks faced each other in a "stand off".
    It was then onto a brief photo stop at the Templehof Airlift Memorial commemorating the 1948 airlift of food and medicines etc. by Allied Forces to the people of Berlin.
    From here we had a 40 minute stop at the Allied Museum which is on the site of an Allied Base and houses one of the British Hasting aeroplanes that took part in the airlift. [They had opened the plane up especially for DCL so that we could walk inside the exhibit.]
    Apart from several exhibits inside the buildings, the real Checkpoint Charlie hut is a walk through exhibit…the one at the location we saw earlier being built just for tourists albeit at the correct location, so at least I can say that we saw the real thing! :whistle:

    A short journey then took us to the most famous boulevard in Berlin, Kurfürstendamm, where we stopped for 15 minutes so we could do some shopping or [as we did] visit the adjacent remains of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church which was severely damaged during WW2 and is now restored in part.
    Nearby is the Europa Centre which has a Mercedes Benz revolving emblem on it`s roof. We were told that this emblem is driven by a motor manufactured by VW which I found quite amusing! :point:

    We passed by the Reichstag, and several other places of interest, arriving back at the station at around 5 pm in time for our train`s departure back to Warnemünde at 5.30 pm.
    By now we were all suffering from “information overload”, reflecting on the sites we had seen during this hectic day as we journeyed back to the ship which departed at 8.30 pm.

    Of all the cruises I`ve done, the send off we received from the people of Warnemünde during the port departure will stay with me forever, even the various CM`s we later spoke to said that they had never experienced anything like it.
    It seemed like the entire population of the town had turned out to wave us off and they lined the dockside waving to us as we slowly inched our way out of the port.
    Several hundred folk were also in numerous boats who sailed away with us, waving and cheering us on our way.
    These small boats kept sounding their “toot toot” horns and naturally we gave them several “When you wish upon a star” replies, the most frequent use of our ship`s horn ever,and it really brought a tear to your eye, so emotionally charged was the occasion. :crywave:

    After Warnemünde had disappeared from view we returned to our stateroom to get ready for dinner. Tonight was the “show” night for us at Animator`s Palate and it was great to see the expression on the faces of the “cruise newbies” at our table as they saw this for their first time when the restaurant [and the servers] gradually became a riot of colour followed by Sorceror Mickey making an appearance.

    Naturally the evening was rounded off in Sessions with us all finalising our secret plans for what we had in store for Tim Moss [the pianist] the following evening! :evil:
    Back to our rooms around midnight, only to find another of those pesky cards advising us to move our clocks forward by another hour before retiring! :doh:

    At least tomorrow would be a day at sea to help offset the effects of losing an hours sleep!
     
  2. Isafari
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    Isafari Wild Animal Expert

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    Thoroughly enjoyed reading tis trip report Terry :yes:

    Had me in tears reading about it so I can only imagine how it would have been for you guys.

    Can't wait to hear what you have planned for Tim :lol:
     
  3. Slowhand
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    Slowhand Cruise Director Forum Host

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    Thanks Diane. :hug2:
    That departure was highly emotional. I guess that most of the folk on the dockside were taking their last view of the "Magic" as ours was the final of these cruises.
     
  4. uscwest
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    uscwest Senior Cast Member

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    Another great trip report Terry. I haven't been to Berlin since the wall came down and I don't want to steal anything from you in this thread so I'll keep those wonderful memories to myself for know and thank you wholeheartedly for returning them.
     
  5. Slowhand
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    Slowhand Cruise Director Forum Host

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    If only you could have chipped some fragments from the Wall during your visit John [photographing your labours], you would be sitting on a goldmine now! :lol:
     
  6. Tink
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    Tink Cead Mille Failte! Staff Member Administrator

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    What an incredible report, Slowhand. I felt as though I were there with you. I have a hard time with Germany, although my Father (and brother) loved the country. Da traveled there often for work...

    My Aunt was a concentration camp survivor so I grew up with her stories making more of an impression on me than my Father's recounting of the beauty of Germany...

    I fully appreciate your presentation! What a send off you were given. It was moving to read about, so experiencing it must have been pretty dramatic.

    You know? You have the best experiences. I think it's down to your positive outlook on life and your cheerful good nature. :yes:

    Looking forward to more of the report and more of the beautiful photos!
     
  7. Slowhand
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    Thanks for those kind words Tink. :hug2:
    I did observe that when our guide was explaining things to us, she never referred to the word "Germans". Instead it was always the "Nazis" who did one thing or another during WW2.
    Fortunately things have moved on since those days but for certain folk who lived through those awful times, forgiveness is indeed a hard pill to swallow.
     
  8. Tink
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    That is good to know. I know there are fine and decent German folk but it did take me some time to evolve to that level of maturity. When you hear whispers (and Aunt Helen never spoke vehemently, it was always in whispers to the adults, but it made a huge impression... and of course her children shared some of the info...) about the horrors that someone survived it takes a long time to reconcile, eh? She never said Nazi, and always said "The Germans." To this day, she cannot hear a German accent without paling and having a level of fear response. :(

    I think I would like to visit Germany to experience the beauty that my Da spoke of, the wonderful people, the food, and of course the beer! :D (I'd probably like the wine a bit more).

    Your report gave me a feel for the goodness that is Germany and helps to put many things in perspective. Let's face it... the "white man" was no better to the Native American Indians, were they?

    Again, thank you for more than you intended, I'm sure! :hug2:
     
  9. catrancher
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    catrancher Assistant Cruise Director Forum Host

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    Once again, a great report Terry! :thumbsup:

    I can't imagine the overwhelming sense of history being there in Berlin must have provided. I get chills just thinking about it.

    Tom :)macwave:... chilling!)
     
  10. DisneyFreak
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    DisneyFreak Serious Forum Regular

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    I love WWII history and would have enjoyed this day immensely. Thanks for sharing again Terry. SO many people/families sacrificed so much during this time in Human history. What a tremendous generation they were. :worship:


    And it's stories like these that give me hope for the world going forward. I know it's a cliche but really......why can't we all just get along? :yes:
     
  11. Slowhand
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    Slowhand Cruise Director Forum Host

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    Thanks both. :thumbsup:
    Although I`ve been to Germany several times on business, I`ve always wanted to visit Berlin as I too am very interested in the events of WW11.

    To finally make it there was among the highlights of this cruise to me.
    I`d love to return again one day to spend more time there than we were given during our whistle stop tour on the excursion.
     
  12. uscwest
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    uscwest Senior Cast Member

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    If you do get back there keep your DW away from KaDeWe. It is a HUGE department store and is to Berlin, what Harrods is to London.
     
  13. Slowhand
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    Slowhand Cruise Director Forum Host

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    I`ll definately make a note of that John. Thanks for the tip! :lol:
     
  14. Disneybumble
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    Disneybumble The Secret is in the Sauce.

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    Thank you Terry. I can remember watching the wall come down on TV and crying. Seeing the peoples faces full of hope.
    Very interesting that they are referred to as Nazi's. Why should a whole country be lumped into one phrase.
     
  15. Slowhand
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    It was really only our tour guide who made reference to the word "Nazi" when she was explaining a few events of WW2, so as to distance the current German race from the regime during that period in history.
     

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