September 18 & 19

See pictures below the day's summary

L - O - N - G day(s) today! We stayed at the Hampton Inn at the Portland Airport Friday night. Our wakeup call was at 3:15am on Saturday morning. We wanted to catch the shuttle at 4am since our flight wa at 6:05am. The shuttle ended up not being ready until about 4:15am, but we still made it.   

We flew to JFK Airport in New York. It was supposed to be a 5½ hour flight, but it ended up being around 4½ hours instead. Must have had a nice tailwind.      We were supposed to have a 5 hour layover, so it ended up being close to 6 hours. I mentioned to Dad that I had looked into getting a temporary pass to the Delta Sky Club, but it was too expensive. In the Sky Club, you get free drinks & snacks and more comfortable chairs than the gates. Dad and I went in to one of the Sky Clubs at JFK and he was asking the lady some questions and then all of a sudden, decided we'd get a 30-day membership. Wow! But, okay, we got to hang out in the Delta Sky Club for our 5 hours. We got to charge our phones and we had lunch in their new restaurant inside. I had a chicken salad sandwich and Dad had a grilled cheese. It was $22 for those! They weren't bad, but weren't worth $22. Oh, well. We're on vacation. And, as Dad likes to say: "You can't take it with you".   

So our flight to Berlin left at 7:05pm or something like that. It loaded up pretty easy and we were on our way. The plane wasn't the best though. A 767, which doesn't have the individual screens on the seat back in front of you. That was a big bummer! Not much legroom either. In fact, my Southwest flight to Portland had GREAT legroom compared to this 767's. The overhead bins were really small too. Even our backpacks barely fit. The flight was also quite bumpy at times. At one point, I was chuckling to myself (and saying a prayer that we wouldn't die!!) because looking ahead you see all the people in their seats bouncing and swaying back & forth - just like you see in a bad horror movie! Only this was real. It cracked me up.   

Okay, so we land in Berlin and go through their passport check. They checked us directly when we got off the plane and we picked up our luggage right there. We didn't have to walk anywhere. It took quite a while for our luggage to come around, but we weren't the last ones waiting, so it was okay.

After we got our luggage, we went out and met our guide. A lady named Karin. She has a German accent (we found out that she lives in Berlin), but is pretty easy to understand her English (by the end of the tour, we were experts at understanding her!). All of the people were due to arrive by 11:40am, so we expected to load into the bus around noon or 12:15. She had us take our luggage to the bus and then we could walk around the airport or wait on the bus. It was a little after 9am (on Sunday), so we decided to go back to the airport. We found an ATM and got 50€ each. I had to give Dad a lesson in ATM's and keeping track of Euros vs. USD. I think I was kind of bitchy, but we eventually got through.   

Eventually, all 17 people on the tour showed up and we were off on our brief tour of Berlin. We crossed between East & West Berlin several times. We saw where "The Berlin Wall" used to be. It is now marked with cobblestones in the street. It was very narrow at the point we saw. We also saw th Brandenburg Gate. Took some pictures. It was quite huge and impressive. Lots of government parliament buildings around - including the US Embassy. The main parliament building we saw was The Reichstag (Reich = Empire). It was big & beautiful. Had a glass dome behind it - apparently the view from the dome is fantastic.

We stopped for a quick lunch near a Holocaust Memorial. Very impressive. It was 2,711 blocks of concrete of various sizes arranged in dips & peaks. Check out the pictures - it was really neat.      We ended up eating at Subway because we walked to a fair to get some food (about 4 blocks away) and we only saw one food tent and the line was quite long. And by the time we got there, we only had about 20 minutes. We had seen the Subway on the walk there, so just stopped on our way back to the bus.

Speaking of bus - it's nice. There are only 17 people on the tour (plus the guide & the driver) and it's a full size bus. So most people are in their own seats and there's plenty of room for our carry-on bags.

The 17 people are all from the US, except one lady from Brisbane, Australia. We had met most of them "unofficially" just from being on the bus, but had our official introductions at dinner at the hotel. The hotel is the Ramada in Leipzig. Nice hotel. Very tall shower though - it's a little scary getting in & out. But, I hung on to the counter and did just fine.   

Dinner was a buffet at the hotel restaurant. Very good. I mostly ate some sort of pork roll - maybe cheese & spinach on the inside? We ended up having to sit separately because the tables were only for 4 people and we had several groups of 3.

Hoping for a good night's sleep tonight. We have breakfast at 8am tomorrow, then at 9am we are heading to Wittenberg. Looking forward to seeing the Castle Church where Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door. Then another night at the Ramada in Leipzig.


Angie at the Boise airport Bruce & Angie at the New York JFK airport Bruce & Angie on the bus in Berlin (at last!)
Enjoying a cup of Starbucks at the Berlin airport I don't drink coffee, but a juice at Starbucks tastes pretty good to me Berlin Reichstag Parliament building
Heading toward the Brandenburg Gate A row of bricks has been placed where the Berlin Wall once stood We're behind the Brandenburg Gate now - it is a highly developed area
Angie in front of the Brandenburg Gate A self-portrait at the Brandenburg Gate (I'm famous for taking them!) Bruce in front of the Brandenburg Gate
Close-up of the horses on top of the Brandenburg Gate Dad in front of the Berlin Reichstag Parliament building Berlin Reichstag Parliament building
These slate slabs are a memorial to the 96 politicians who were murdered because their politics didn't agree with Hitler's. Their names are engraved on each stone Another shot of the slate slabs Berlin Cathedral
This building is called The French Dome. I don't know if it's a church or what? I'm not sure what this building is - it looks like some sort of government building The poster at Checkpoint Charlie
The Berlin Wall A portion of the Berlin Wall is missing Berlin Holocaust Memorial
Berlin Holocaust Memorial Angie at the Berlin Holocaust Memorial Bruce at the Berlin Holocaust Memorial
Looking straight down one of the paths at the Berlin Holocaust Memorial Back on the bus on the way to our hotel. It's been a LONG day!