Netherlands to Berlin 23 to 26 May 2013

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May 26th 2013
Published: May 28th 2013
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Netherlands to Berlin 23 to 26 May 2013

We have now had our Fiat Hymer Motor home for 4 days and it is working out really well. Both Tom & I are enjoying driving it and have got used to its size. It drives really well, with good steering and turning circle. Despite being 20 years old, you can see by the photos it has been looked after well. The last owner had it for 7 years and even replaced the front seats. They are very comfortable. There is more than enough room for the 2 of us.

We have now got it kitted out with blow heater (it has been really cold and wet since being in Germany), jug, toaster, wine glasses and enough cutlery and crockery. The fridge is not as cold as we think it should be but it’s OK. We haven’t used the shower or toilet yet.

Our bed is a good size, with the mattress a little firm. We bought new bedding which is very toasty. Two of the seats at the table have seat belts so when Kerrie & Gemma travel with us from Paris to Venice in September, they will be safe.

We haven’t worked out all the bits and pieces on it yet but Tom is working through that. And with all the rain we are experiencing, there are no leaks. It’s got a couple of furniture-squeaking sounds when we are in motion but it’s not too bad.

For those of you who are wondering how we (I) am coping with the van-life – so far so good. We have quickly settled into a routine on who does what re preparing the motor home for being stationary and mobile (eg when to use the 12 volt and 240 volt power etc) and not to forget to disconnect the power cord before moving and put the steps up!! This will be good experience to find out what we like as a good floor plan for a van that works for us. You never know, we might get a van when we come home!!!!!

Our trip from the Netherlands border to Berlin went smoothly. We haven’t made as rapid a progress as we (I) have hoped so we have decided not to visit Poland this trip. We are coming back to use the motor home again next year to see the Scandinavian countries, Russia etc and we will add Poland to the list.

From Berlin we are going to head south to the Czech Republic and move south from there.

The Campingplatz which we are staying at presently is about 25 kms from Berlin central. We drove to a train station, parked the motor home and trained it into the city. All train systems in Germany are fantastic.

Berlin is a beautiful city (despite the rain) and as you all know, with a very interesting history. There are plenty of museums to tell the stories. One in particular is the Check Point Charlie Information Centre. They had part of the wall on display. On a Hop-on-hop-off bus tour we did around the city, we saw the remainder of the wall. The most significant dates were 1953 and when the wall came down in 1989. The end of the Cold War between east and west.

While we were looking around we noticed police vehicles and squads of police closing off roads. We then heard lots of loud voices and drums. Along came a big demonstration. They were handing out pamphlets so we found out they were all campaigning against racial prejudice and the German policy for the treatment of refugees. This issue seems world-wide in the developed countries. That reminds me, how the election campaign is going in Australia – we are certainly not missing that news!!##!

We saw the American Checkpoint. Now there is a sign that marks the spot as well as 2 uniformed soldiers (not sure if they are really soldiers) who charge 2 euro to have your photo taken with them.

On the bus trip as well as our walk around the city, we saw the Brandenburg Gates (Platz) which is the quintessential symbol of Berlin. This magnificent neoclassical structure was designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans and modeled on the Acropolis in Athens. It was erected between 1788 and 1791. These Gates have witnessed many historical events. Military parades and demonstrating workers have marched under the arches. The Soviet flag was raised here in 1945. It was restored between 1956 and 1958 and for the next 30 years the Gates stood watch over the divided city until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. It was renovated once again in 2002.

We also saw the Reichstag, built to house the German Parliament. We didn’t get a good photo of this because of the rain. We saw places such as Potsdamer Platz which was one of the busiest, most built up areas of Berlin before the War but was very badly bombed in 1945 and then burnt. Many of the buildings were pulled down to build the Berlin Wall. Now it is a very attractive group of modern high-rise buildings (offices & departmental stores).

We also drove through Tiergarten which is the largest park in Berlin occupying 210 ha. It used to be a hunting reserve was transformed into a garden in the 1830s. It was badly damaged during the war but has now been replanted and we can imagine it would be beautiful on a worm dry day!!!

We saw Berlin’s massive Fernsehturm television mast which at 368m tall, towers over the city and the 3rd tallest structure in Germany. It has a revolving restaurant and a viewing platform, both of which were closed when we were there due to the weather.

The next major site to visit was the massive Berliner Dom, the protestant cathedral which was built in 1747. It was severely damaged in the War but has been fully restored.

We went back to our camping grounds for dinner as they had a restaurant there. They had plenty of tables and chairs for outside dining so that one could gaze over the large lake that the Park was next to….but not today! There were a number of boats moored at the little jetty. I had a local pork wiener schnitzel with large white asparagus with white sauce and salad. The white asparagus is in season at the moment and Kevin & Julia introduced it to us in Frankfurt.

We are now off to Leipzig which is south of Berlin.

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