I’m hoping that I can keep up to date with our plans as they fall into place, but here I am, already behind! We have now heard from our friends Henry and Val, who say we can stay at their London apartment for as long as we like. We will be in London 4 September-15 September. Other than visit the Tate Modern, which I have yet to see, I don’t have any idea what we will want to see or do in London. All suggestions and recommendations welcome! Having learned that the apartment is very near Euston Station, I have just researched a little to discover that Euston was the very first railway station in England, built in 1837. The famous Euston Arch, which used to mark the entrance to the station, was demolished in the 1960s. There have been efforts to rebuild it ever since.
On 15 September, we’ll fly to Berlin, where we will stay for two weeks. I have yet to book a flight, primarily because I can’t figure out the baggage limitations on these discount airlines. Ryanair seems out of the question, since we’ll be travelling with all the baggage we need for nine months away from home, and their checked baggage fees are brutal. I think we’ll be OK with Germanwings (yes, the airlines that had the crazy pilot fly into an Alp!), which (I think) allow one bag each up to 23 kilos. That should be more than enough for us!
We have now booked via AirBnB an actual HOUSE near the middle of Berlin!
It appears to be a little summer house, of which the owners are quite proud of the garden. I have now realized that it’s located near the Volkspark Prenzlauer Berg , which is one of the green areas landscaped on the enormous hills created by the debris of Berlin piled there after World War II. Here’s what it looks like today:
And here’s what this area looked like in 1966, when I first was in Berlin, on the 5th anniversary of the Berlin Wall:
At the time, I remember shuddering at the realization of what this meant: the thousands of buildings, the thousands of lives lost, represented by these huge mounds now covered in greenery.
I am now contemplating what we’ll do in Berlin. Aside from visiting the East, which I haven’t done since the spooky old days of East Germany, and visiting the great Berlin museums, I’m contemplating whether I should do some family geneaological research–my grandfather Esau’s family came to Berlin from the area around Danzig after World War I. It would even be intriguing to see if we could visit the now-Polish little village where he was born! It was in the farm land outside Danzig, now Gdansk, where many Mennonites settled. I’ll have to figure out where and how to look for Prussian archival records. We’ll see if we have enough time.
Our plan then is to travel by train through East Germany–all those places I wasn’t allowed to go to when I had a Fulbright in 1974: Dresden, Dessau, Weimar. The train also goes through Prague, then onto Vienna, where we’ll stay for three months or so.
That brings us up to date at this point! More to come!