The Eurodam arrived at 6 am in the pretty port of Warnemunde, Germany. We again arose early for our room service breakfast. Our comfortable tour bus to Berlin left at 7:45 a.m. We enjoyed the relaxing 3-hour drive through bucolic German countryside as we passed massive green fields of corn, hay and grain accented by thousands of colorful wildflowers. Herds of cattle grazed in the lush grassy fields. Nimble deer jumped the fence to eat the crops. Lars, our excellent bus driver, conversed and joked despite limited English.
After arriving in Berlin, we met our tour guide, Jim, a transplanted Minnesotan, who came to Berlin as a German history graduate student and never left. Because President Obama was due in Berlin later that day, Jim and other tour guides worried about street closures. While workers scrambled to prepare for the Obama entourage, we managed to see the popular World War II memorial sites.
On a hot June day, Jim led us to the 1936, Olympic Stadium, Charlottenburg Palace, Reichstag, the somber Holocaust Memorial and remaining section of Berlin Wall. Along the way, Jim showed us black-and-white photos of what the sites looked like after WW II bombings.
Jim lingered at the Brandenburg Gate, where President Obama was speaking the next day — the same site where President Kennedy delivered a memorable speech 50 years earlier. While walking to Checkpoint Charlie for photos, Jim said nothing about this site is original. It is NOT an Army site, and the uniformed “soldier” is an actor who poses for tips. Our lunch stop at a trendy mall in Potsdam Platz (Berlin’s Times Square) contrasted with the somber war sites. Fashionably dressed women in stiletto heels, the business crowd and Secret Service agents provided interesting people watching.
While returning to the ship, we met the incoming presidential motorcade. Lars, our congenial bus driver, made the return 3-hour return trip pleasant as he talked about passing scenery and told jokes. When we returned to the ship at 6:40 p.m., a gala beer fest was in progress on the Lido deck with a live German band and German food buffet.
Our 10-day Gems of the Baltic voyage called on ports in six countries. Along the way we met and conversed with dozens of people from different cultures and sampled new (to us) food. We left the Eurodam with thousands of digital photos and a treasure trove of experiences for our memory bank. We will renew our passports next year.