Tag Archives: Berlin

#TBT: July abroad

I realized the other day that I have spent quite a few days of July abroad in recent years.  Here are a few photos from July excursions to Europe.

Scenes from Montreal, Vienna, London and every one of the countries in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Stockholm, Antwerp, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, Florence, other points in Austria, and Paris.  I think that’s it.

Travel was by jet, plane, car, bus, train, and bicycle!

Many of these adventures were with my friend Kevin Cherry, or with the choir from Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City.  I’m grateful to Webster University for the Messing Award that allowed me to spend three weeks in Vienna in July 2018 for curriculum development.


In these darkest days of the year, we are surrounded by clouds of evil and forces of hatred.

Aleppo.  Darfur. Mosul. 

Zealots abound, both at home and abroad.  

When those zealots strike at someplace I’ve actually walked, where I have dined and drank, suddenly the hatred seems all the closer.

The site of last evening’s attack in Berlin is one that I know, and in fact a place I visited on several occasion while staying in Berlin last year.  

And again, as I’ve written before in these pages, this prayer is on my mind:

E’en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come.  We need no light, nor lamp, nor sun, for Christ shall be our all.

For some context, read this column from today’s paper:

And on to Prague

From a website I consulted today:

Berlin and Prague represent two very different aspects of Europe: the former is the capital of revolution and youth, bursting at the seams with artistic innovation and a fiery, rebellious spirit. The latter is the epitome of classic, elegant Europe, with its steepled architecture and quiet afternoons along the river.

While Berlin’s physical appearance has changed drastically in the decades since WWII, Prague has remained relatively untouched, meaning that between these two historic cities lies a four hour, forty minute trip that spans centuries, wars and cultures. Whether you’re going from the “City of Golden Spires” to the “Millennium City” or back in the other direction, there is much to absorb on this eastern European journey.

You’ll pass through Dresden, now a bucolic place of parks, gardens, and majestic views. You’ll wind through the northern Czech Republic, right along the Elbe River. You’ll discover a region lined with pristine lakes and giant pines, with palaces nestled in between each stretch of wilderness. Make sure to have your camera ready for the large sweeping vistas of unspoiled, mountainous landscape, where life seems to stand unchanged between these thriving metropolises.

And now imagine yourself sitting by the train’s window, a member of royalty surveying the land, in complete speedy comfort. This is the joy of rail travel. The modern meets the timeless.




So after our aborted Friday attempt to find the ‘Berlin Museum,’ we walked to and through the Brandenburg Gate, and then on over to the Reichstag.

To ascend to the Reichstag dome, one either waits in line for timed-admission tickets that may be as much as two days later, or one emails and asks for a specific time.  My email attempt received a standard ‘not available’ reply. So we went to stand in line.

And so it was that after about 30 minutes this very nice young man walks up and starts pulling people from the line, and handing the immediate entry cards. I don’t know why, but he did.

At about 7.15 p.m. Friday, after pictures on the front drive, I ascended to the roof of the Reichstag, and toured this stunning dome designed by Norman Foster.

The video has the collection of photos I took, most of them looking outward toward the city of Berlin.

I’ll also post another video from YouTube, looking inward.

For both of us, this was the highlight of the trip so far!


Morning in Berlin

At 8.35 a.m., the sun has just broken through the clouds.  We had rain overnight, pleting against the garret window in my top-floor bedroom.  I’ve not heard that sound since I lived in Lawrence, Kansas.

The clouds are moving rapidly from the west now, and we have promise of a somewhat sunny, but chilly, day here in Berlin.  The plan for the day: collect our Berlin cards and use the hop-on, hop-off bus to become oriented; take the cruise on the River Spree; and go see things.  Our bike tour of Berlin is set for Saturday.

Dinner last evening was schweinebraten.  I cleaned my plate.

Home for the next few days is a market square in the old East Berlin. Here is Hackescher Markt from our 7th-floor balcony, and two shots looking further afield:

Transit to Berlin

Having arrived now safely in Berlin, here is an account of the day.


1 p.m. Wednesday.

We are in transit through Germany. First class on this train comes with a quiet cabin for four. We’re the only ones here, so we have spread out. K is napping across two seats. I am at the window seat on the other side of the cabin, watching the countryside whip by as the sky gradually lightens from the rain we saw leaving The Netherlands.

Germany is green and healthy. Corn, not nearly as high here as back home, stands in small plots next to wheat fields. Green alternates with golden yellow. Little hedgerows set of expanses of land with houses on them. The train line is sided by tiny streams of water. Occasionally, off in the distance, a town is evident, marked almost always by a church steeple. Tall wind turbines are all about, but not in wind farms; rather, they pop up like sentries on the landscape, perhaps a kilometer or more apart. One thinks of Chinese watchtowers spaced in regular intervals on the Great Wall.

Hanover must be near. I just caught enough of the German-language announcement to understand that the train is not stopping at Hanover Hauptbanhof, but at another station where those disembarking must take an S-Bahn (trolley, or overland light rail) to the main station.

A poor American kid was terrifically lost in the cafe car today. He wanted a slice of pizza, and when he saw what the waiter pulled out of the freezer, he decided he didn’t want it. So . . . I hopped up and helped him order what he wanted, and while the pizza was in the super-oven, we chatted a bit. His father is an administrator at Pepperdine . . . they left California just after the school year ended . . . they are on a traditional grand tour with stops yet to go in Berlin and Prague and Vienna before Italy. I did my good deed for the day.

But this trip has been filled with good deeds. I did another one this morning. Witness:

And now, drama over, I shall relate a tiny story. Apparently the train is not stopping at Hanover because of an accident in Hanover that has caused the power lines (that power these electric trains) to fall. So we are taking a detour around Hanover, but not before a long, 30-minute stop outside of town. Suddenly the S-Bahn arrived from Hanover, and out emerged all of these excited Germans trying to figure out where they were going and how to get there. First Class was momentarily full until an announcement that a faster train was heading to Berlin at 2:18. And off they all went.

K and I have stayed on this train, since we are on a ticket type that requires us to be on a particular line at a particular time. From what I can tell, we will arrive Berlin late, but still arrive! The train is re-routing through a different city, and onto tracks that also carry freight trains instead of dedicated passenger lines. We are moving with less speed, that much is certain. [Update: we are going to be more than one hour late to Berlin. I’ve called our AirBnB host and told him of the delay.]

I’m switching now from trying to understand Dutch to trying to understand Deutsch. All will be well.

And the grand adventure continues!! #euroadventure2015

Preparing for a trip

JC straddling what was West Berlin and East Berlin.
JC straddling what was West Berlin and East Berlin.

I leave one month from today for this summer’s vacation in Europe.  In prep for that trip, I have been re-reading blog entries and journals from my 2008 trip to Berlin, Potsdam, Wittenberg, Weimar, Dresden,and Prague.

Here are some entries worth reading again: