Monday, September 1, 2008

Potsdam: 2 weddings, castles and a wailing toddler

After hearing much about a common day trip from Berlin called Potsdam, we decided to go visit the Palace Sanssoucci given that the Scientist only had a few more days until he actually had to start work.

Potsdam was really very close to Berlin. We used our same train ticket and just bought an extension. Transportation there cost only an extra 2 Euros! Even better, the train only took about 30 min to get there.

When we arrived, there was this very large cheesy gate. It is obviously very touristy but since we were tourists, I guess we can't mind that much!
We then took a trolley to bypass some of the town and get to the palace. B of course was very excited about this and now has his public transportation dream fulfilled of riding a train, bus, plane, ferry and now finally trolley.
Palace Sansoucci or Palace carefree translated from French, was built by Fredrick the Great, King of Prussia as an escape from the court life of Berlin. Unlike most other castles in Germany, it survived the bombing raids fairly well. It was really a very beautiful, elegant castle. We decided just to walk around the park. It was very big and there are numerous other towers, buildings, monuments and fountains to be seen.

I have heard the inside of Palais Sansoucci is absolutely remarkable but with a cranky 2-year-old and very old, very expensive decor, we decided to forgo the indoor tour until my P's visit in December and can help me handle my little knucklehead...(Hurry Mom!)
It was really a very beautiful, simple and elegant castle. This is the view of the front.
This is the view from the front of the castle looking down on the grounds. Yes we trudged up all of those stairs!
Here is Baby Bird and me in front of the castle. I wonder why Fredrick the Great decided it should be yellow? (My Dad hates yellow and would never build a castle in yellow!)

In the interest of not posting 1 million beautiful castle/garden pictures, I have decided to give you an "Off the Beaten Track in Potsdam post."

Here is the most beautiful set of shelf fungi. You can see they go all the way up and down the tree.
Here is a fountain with a flounder or halibut at the Roman baths! I love it! Who ever designs an elegant fountain and thinks a flounder should be the main fish?
Here is the Scientist doing his best Jcrew catalog impression at one of the many terraces.
Here is "How to change a diaper at a Palace when there are only 2 bathrooms in the entire park 101."This delightful gazebo with grape vines and hibiscus flower is where we decided to eat lunch. There are probably still raisins on the ground from where B dropped them. Since there were grapes hanging all around us, we told B that the raisins were just shriveled up grapes. He looked very confused.

There was also another old windmill, although not as evasive as the last Windmill, I was still feeling rather disgusted by windmills at this point. This windmill unfortunately must be a recreation as the original did not survive the bombing raids of WWI.

Here is a delightful wall that appeared to have icicles embedded in it.

There is another palace on the grounds called Neues Palais or New Palace. This was also commissioned by Fredrick the Great around 1769. This was built to commemorate the victory of the Seven Years' War. This castle stood in stark contrast to the simple but elegant Sansoucci. It is considered to be a masterpiece of Baroque architecture.
Do you see all of the statues? I renamed it Schloss Too Many Scary Statues.

In typical 2-year old fashion, while being surrounded by masterpieces that are hundreds of years old, he decided to play peek a boo in his stroller.
Guess he won't be a history buff!

At the park this day, were 2 weddings or at least wedding pictures.
I don't know if you can see this but the bride below has all sorts of crazy white flowers in her hair that hung very far down.
I love watching weddings. Our wedding was such a wonderful day not because it went smoothly but because so many of our close family and friends were there to support us. You don't need a wedding to have that feeling but it sure is an easy way to get a bunch of people together! (I know know this is a lame excuse to post wedding pics but I couldn't resist!)

After the tour of the park, we headed back to the town for a quick snack. We also wanted to see the Brandenburger Tor in Potsdam. This structure was completed in 1770 by Frederick II.
Upon leaving we happened to run into this sculpture.
This was a Prussian War Memorial in the center of town to the last of the free Rhinos that roamed in Germany. They went extinct there in Germany during their reign. This was also commissioned by Frederick II.

One of the most interesting aspects of this trip was that I realized I knew very little of Germany's history before the Nazis came to power. For instance, there was obviously a monarchy-what happened to them? Where they related to the other monarchies in Europe? What influences did the Ottoman or Prussian empire have over Germany today ? My next step is reading some German history books so if anyone has suggestions-feel free to let me know in the comments!

Of course for B-he will remember the rocks which is what he was the most interested in during our visit!


Anonymous said...

Sanssouci is really my favourite German palace, much more interesting than e.g. Neuschwanstein.
If you're interested in German history and castles you should check out the Wartburg in Eisenach (about 350 km from Berlin) if you get the chance. It's where Luther translated the New Testament and the Wartburg festival was held ( ).

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brook said...

wow, you got the weddings on your visit. Rike and I while wondering up toward the Roman Baths, glanced a naked butt rising and plunging into the grass near a copse of trees. thankfully, to our relief, there was another human underneath and not just bare ground. humourous.