Cycle Tour Around West Berlin
Dag/day 4: Potsdam 2
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Added on 18 Jul 2023
on 14 Aug 2023
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by Ottocolor on 18 Jul 2023
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Potsdam, BB, DE (36 m NHN)
Potsdam, BB, DE (38 m NHN)
09 Jul 2023
Very hot, above 30°C and sunny all day. No wind.
The next morning I planned to get up early and go back into the city early, because I knew that Tanja and her friends had booked an audio guide tour of Sanssouci at 9. And I also wanted to visit the castle myself. But of course I didn't manage to get up that early, so the pretty birds had flown before I arrived. But okay, now I could concentrate better on the art in the castle, which is of exquisite quality.
Frederick the Great was an enlightened monarch who loved art and music. And Sanssouci stands above beautifully landscaped wine terraces. Wine, Woman and Song could have been the king's motto! That he at the same time was so fond of war, just ask the Austrians and Saxons, was no problem for him. But he was also a great reformer of the backward society. Among many other things. he introduced potato farming as a novelty in Prussia, and it was of great benefit to the country. The marble hall with an open dome to Our Lord is more beautiful than most I have seen, including Versailles. But as grand and pompous as this absolute crown of absolutism, it is not at all. After the tour with the audio guide, I went down the stairs, and here in the park grandnesst was back. Especially the central staircase with the wine terraces is both beautiful and stylish.
Cycling is mostly prohibited in the Sanssouci Park, so I sped down to the New Garden instead, which Frederik the Great's grandson Frederik Wilhelm IV had laid out next to lake Jungfernsee.
First it was time for lunch and a real Berlin beer specialty, Berliner Weisse mit Schuss (sour bottom-fermented beer with a splash of fruit syrup). I chose forest sorrel to sweeten the beer, and that sounds contradictory. But it works.
It was really hot today, and it was also the hottest day of the trip. People were merrily bathing in the lake, but I wanted to visit the Cecilienhof manor, because it is the home of one of the decisive conferences after the Second World War, namely the Potsdam Conference in July-August 1945 between the Allied leaders Stalin (who was the host), Truman and Churchill, who had to be to be replaced during the three-week conference by his successor as British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee. At the conference, Germany's enormous loss of land to the east was decided. So Stalin got what he wanted. Poland was moved to the west, so he himself annexed large parts of Eastern Poland. In return, Truman informed him that the United States would drop atomic bombs on Japan until the country capitulated, which it had not yet done. At the conference itself, he had been informed that the bomb had been successfully tested in the New Mexico desert. Stalin had to just accept it. It appeared that he even declared war on Japan without this playing any role, other than he got a piece of the pie in the Far East as well. The man of steel was never cheated!
Cecilienhof as a building is also interesting. It had been built for the German crown prince, Emperor Wilhelm II's son, in English country house style and named after his wife Cecilie. She bore him six children, so she deserves some credit. It was completed in 1913, but he himself did not enjoy life there very long before he moved to the front in France during the First World War, and after the war he went into exile with his father when the German monarchy was abolished.
After Cecilienhof, I cycled uphill to the completely newly renovated viewing palace, I'll call it, Belvedere. It is located on top of Pfingstberg and has two towers from which a fantastic view opens up. You could see far into Berlin, and I saw both the TV tower and the Park Inn hotel again. The Belvedere is very elegant and beautiful with a pond in the center of the facility itself. There was supposed to be a concert and the sound tests had started. So I managed to get it just before closing time. It was lucky, because it was really worth the visit.
The last program item of the day was, as yesterday, dinner. Today it was in Russian in the Russian colony of Alexandrowka, which was established for Prussian Russians, while the Prussian kings and Russian tsars cultivated close ties.
I was glad to see that the restaurant in particular had not fallen victim to the pervasive Russophobia that currently prevails in the EU. I do not share it and enjoyed hearing and speaking Russian to the waiters. I was thirsty and first had a large glass of kvass, which is Russian malt beer. It really quenches one's thirst. Then a German weissbier, i.e. traditional wheat beer, not the Berlin weisse, but the food was still Russian, namely a soljanka with meat. This soup was very popular in the GDR, and in many places, even outside Russian restaurants, it is still on the menu. Probably also because grown-up East Germans are increasingly proud of having been something special, survived the injustices and given the regime a certain covert opposition. Right now, many are directly opposing the federal government and vote for the right-wing populists from the AfD. Not because they believe them and all their farflung promises, but out of sheer protest. I think a certain East German closeness to Russia in these times also has something to do with soljanka's continued popularity.
The day naturally ended again first on the beach and then on the restaurant's terrace and more mosquito bites.