Caitlin and I are very good travel partners BUT even great partners can miss interacting with other people. Lucky for us, my parents had already booked a road trip with friends throughout Germany so we crashed in on their trip for a few days. As an added bonus, my sister and her friend Christina also decided to join in on the fun so in total we had 8 of us. But before we talk about those adventures, we had one other stop.
Hanover for 2 days - I still don’t know whether it’s spelled Hanover or Hannover? Anyways, we had a couple of days to kill between Amsterdam and meeting my parents so we decided to visit Hanover because it was on the way to our next destination. It was perfect for us because we had just spent time with Jessica’s family in Amsterdam and were about to spend 4 days with my family so it was good to have a couple of days to ourselves to relax. In regards to the city, Hanover was a pleasant surprise.
On day one we went to the Herrenhausen Gardens. The gardens are made up of the Great Garden (where Barak was greeted by Angela Merkel), the Berggarten, the Georgengarten and the Welfengarten. Our bar for great gardens is set at Versailles and these are right up there on that level. We spent an entire day just walking around and looking at all of the greenhouses, statues, flowers, and fountains. Following the gardens we scootered down to the main area and wandered around their “old town” and found an awesome craft beer spot that we went to both nights.
On day 2 we went to the Eilenriede Forest. I think it is technically a forest, but it sometimes is referred to as a park. Regardless, it’s two times the size of Central Park in NYC. In Central Park you usually always have a view of the skyscrapers at all times and rarely can find yourself “alone”. That was not the case here. We truly felt alone in this massive forest right in the middle of a city. The highlight of the forest had to have been the Tiergarten, which might technically be a different park but it was connected so I am lumping them in together. In the largely wooded terrain, deer were scattered everywhere and wild boars were in a massive enclosed area in the middle of the woods.
I don’t think we needed any more time in Hanover, but the time we did have was very enjoyable.
Goslar for 2 Days - After Hanover we made our way to Goslar to see my family! We met up with my sister and her friend from home first. A lot of people have asked us when do we get most irritated with each other? And usually it just revolves around indecision (i.e. What should we eat? Should we go in this church or not?). If you are like us, then all you need is my sister and your problems will be solved. She has/had everything planned and if you found yourself in a part of town and happened to be hungry or thirsty then she knew somewhere to go. We told her afterwards that we may just call her from time to time to make a decision for us.
On our first day in Goslar we strolled around the Old Town, went to the Imperial Palace, and drank a lot of German beer while catching up. Later that evening we met up with the rest of our crew which included my parents and their longtime friends who had previously lived in Germany for some time.
On our second day we hopped on a couple of trains to check out the surrounding areas and towns. Our first stop was to Wernigerode. The castle in Wernigerode was incredible. It doesn’t receive as much attention as other castles in Germany (i.e. Neuschwanstein) but it should. It was originally designed as a fortress on top of a hill overlooking the city, but later was converted to a residential palace/castle. After the castle we just strolled around their town square which is exactly what you picture when you think of a typical small German town.
Our second stop was in Quedlinburg and we simply did more walking around this picturesque medieval town.
Potsdam for a Day - For our last two nights we would be staying in Potsdam so that’s where we spent our 3rd day. More specifically we spent it at Sanssouci Palace (not to be confused with Sushi Palace which we all thought my sister was saying for a good 30 minutes). Sanssouci was the summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, and is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles (one of our favorites). It is much smaller than Versailles having only 10 rooms, but the grounds seemed to be just as large and with other incredible structures and palaces. Among them were the Chinese House, New Palace, Charlottenhof, and City Palace. It really did seem like everywhere we wandered there was something new to see. Definitely worth a day visit.
Berlin for a Day - On our last day together we all set out for Berlin which is only about a 30 minute train ride from where we were staying in Potsdam. As everyone reading this knows, Berlin has quite the complicated past so there’s no shortage of places to go and things to see. Every stop we’ve had since London was affected in one way or another by WWII, but Berlin was the culmination. We visited one of the more moving and informational museums we’ve ever been to called the Topography of Terror which is located at the site of the former headquarters for the SS and Gestapo. Close by the museum is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe which we visited as well.
The other stops on our day trip revolved around the Berlin Wall. Self admittedly this is another part of history that we needed a bit of a refresher on. All throughout the city are metal posts that show where the wall stood from 1961-1989 with some areas doing a great job at telling different parts of its history. The most interesting section of the wall with a memorial had to have been on Bernauer St. where people would often times attempt escape. The other highlight was Checkpoint Charlie which was the gate separating West Germany from East Germany. We didn’t really see Berlin’s “fun” side, but in terms of sightseeing and learning, it’s hard to beat.
Other sites and buildings around Berlin.
Being able to explore with friends and family we haven’t seen for a few months made Germany so special for us. And while we are excited for the places and months to come, it was a good reminder of all the things at home that we miss. Having your parents pay for a couple of meals also doesn’t hurt either :). ON TO POLAND!