Ich bin ein Berliner!

Saturday, July 16:  Hallo everyone!  Now, I know I promised that I wasn’t going to do any more double posts, but I feel like this time is a reasonable exception because Friday was so boring that I pretty much don’t remember a single thing about it.

 

I know it was a long day.  Out of the 11 hours it took to get to Berlin, I’m pretty sure the only occurrence of note was the flat tire on the Model A.

I took 5 pictures on Friday and 4 of them were of this flat tire.

This is his third of the trip, so with all his practice, we were back on the road in 15 minutes.  That’s seriously the only thing that happened.  Now you know why I didn’t write a blog post.

 

 

Yesterday was an improvement over it’s predecessor.  Thanks to Tatiana, we had an early appointment with a local Ford dealer to go and use his service center to prepare our car for the final push.  So, even though I would have enjoyed a morning to sleep in, we got up at 6 and drove over to the dealership along with the Model A and the Corvette.  The only problem was that we went to the wrong Ford dealer.  In the end we finally made it to the correct location and quicker than you can say thecarwasuponthelift the car was… up on the lift.  We had several items on our agenda; check out the leaky water pump, check out the squeaky wheel, change the oil, change the oil filter, adjust the clutch, and adjust the brakes.

Our talented mechanic did all his work with a tire balanced on his head!

We got around to most of these objectives, but in the end it was decided that there was nothing we could really do about the pump and the wheel at this point and all we could do was hope they held together long enough for us to make it to Paris.  The wheel got a good load of grease and we’ve been keeping extra water close at all times.  It was a quick visit for everyone and we made it back to the hotel for a quick bite to eat before the afternoon tour of Berlin.

 

The tour was only about two hours, but in my humble opinion, it was one of the most enjoyable on the trip so far.  I think this city was a bit more personal than most others for both of us in Car 54.  Grampa, in his previous travels, had visited Germany many times and I could tell that he was quite fond of the German people and the culture.  I’ve had a connection to Germany all my life because it’s the homeland of my Gramma, and it is the only country on this trip that I have previously visited.  So it was a nice visit for both of us and it gave me a chance to put my mediocre (at best) German skills to the test.  Mostly this just meant reading signs and maybe a couple foods on a menu, but still… it was better than being in China.

Our guide was a bit on the eccentric side, but his enthusiasm was captivating.

Anyway, the tour.  Berlin is a really interesting city and it’s been very relevant to more recent history – both in WWII and in the Cold War.  So we did the rounds of monuments and stuff like that.  We saw the Parliamentary building, we saw Brandenburg Gate, we saw Checkpoint Charlie (which, by the way, is not some dude with an awesome nick-name).

Brandenburg Gate.

But the thing that I was most pumped about was… The Wall.  That’s right, the Berlin Wall.  There actually isn’t very much of it left; Reagan must’ve inspired a lot of people (we’ll see how many of you get that reference) because that wall was straight up torn down.  I wish I could’ve stayed and checked out the museum, but as I’m about to reveal, we had other plans.

This brick line runs through the entire city and marks where the wall once stood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the wall first came down, people started chipping away at and this stretch is all that remains.

 

 

The other plans that I am revealing were the best part of the day.  We met up with a family that Grampa had known since the early 90s.  And when I say family, it was a little more than that; the kids that Grampa knew in the early 90s were now grown and had kids of their own.  But father was named Ulrich, and he had his own locksmith shop back when East Berlin was under Soviet control.  We also met his wife, Angalic (I hope I spelled it correctly) and two of his children – Berit and Eric.  Berit was already a teenager back when Grampa last saw her, and as of right now she is married to a nice fellow named Derk and we met their two children, Ben and Ava, who were totally hilarious.  After a joyous reunion, we sat down for a quick chat about the race and how that was going, etc. etc. followed by a pleasant walk to a restaurant for dinner.  Once again dinner was delicious and I was lucky enough to enjoy conversation with someone closer to my own age.  Eric is 17 and luckily his English is much better than my German.  We talked about cars and school and sports and it was all very nice.

From left to right: Kert, Ben, and Eric.

 

 

Our hosts were very gracious and we would like to thank them for their hospitality.

 

To kind of stray off topic, I think it’s important for Americans to know that we don’t have the best international reputation.  I had suspected that this might be the case before I came on this trip and so far the people I’ve met and the conversations I’ve had have only confirmed this suspicion.  So that’s kind of been my personal mission; to be a good example and a good representative for America.  And I feel like I’ve been doing pretty well so far.  But anyway, it’s just something all Americans should be aware of I think.  So, we had a great time with our very friendly and gracious hosts, but with an early start in the morning, we were forced to retire much too soon.

 

Today we cross into the Czech Republic and head for Prague.  Five days to Paris.

 

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