Day #26 of our road trip is spent driving about four hours back to London stopping for breaks every hour or so. One long stop was in Taunton where Sandy did some shopping and Jim relaxed at an outdoor cafe. Upon arrival back in London we stayed in Richmond which is a suburban town in southwest London on a meander of the river Thames. Our friends Sigi and Paul live there and had insisted that we spend our last night at their home despite the fact that they were away in Scotland. It was such a kind gesture and made it so convenient as they even provided parking and we were only 20 minutes from Heathrow where we departed for Berlin. The two hour flight to Berlin was uneventful, so uneventful that they did not even offer us a drink of water in business class. We were happy to see our good friend Dick waiting for us after coming through passport control. Oh but wait, where is baggage claim. Oh no, we messed up and did not pick up our baggage. You would think that with being experienced world travelers we would not make this mistake, but we did and they would not even consider letting us back into the gate area. We had to stand outside the exit from the gate looking for a stranger to stop before exiting and have them go back and find our three pieces of luggage. Fortunately we connected with a driver waiting for a passenger and he asked her to go back in and fetch our luggage which she did. We then found out that this driver worked for Cher and it was Cher’s wardrobe assistant who ended up retrieving our bags. Cher is performing in Berlin on her “Here we go again” tour which falls on the one year anniversary of Mama Mia 2 in which she starred along with our actress friend Amanda Seyfried who lived in Dick’s unit upstairs from us in Boston when she filmed Ted 2. We left the airport feeling very blessed and also happy that we can now stalk our stalkers Dick and Andrew.
We came to Berlin to support our running friends Gayle Oulighan and Deb Camara who are running the Berlin Marathon in pursuit of completing the six major world marathons: Boston, New York, Chicago, London, Berlin and Tokyo. The world major classification is based on size and renown. The Berlin marathon was founded in 1974 by a Berlin baker. There were 244 finishers including ten woman. Now, 45 years later it is one of the largest most prestigious marathons in the world and boasts the fastest times due to a very flat circuit, cool conditions, well maintained roads and Germanic efficiency. On Sunday 29 September over 61,000 runners will participate in the BMW Berlin Marathon. Marjy, Deb, Gayle and family arrived Wednesday September 25. We hosted a pizza party at Dick and Andrew’s condo.
On Thursday we said goodby to Dick, Andrew and Henry. They are returning to Sitges Spain to oversee the final stages of renovations of their new home there.
We then met up with our running friends and had a wonderful “Get your guide” tour with Carlo. We spent three hours on a walking tour to see the top 20 sights in Berlin. Carlo was very engaging and the three hours went by quickly. He gave us extra time to enjoy a nice coffee break rest halfway through the tour. Aside from seeing the attractions, we especially enjoyed hearing stories of what it was like for Carlo living in the American sector of West Berlin. He was 15 years old when the wall came down.
After the tour we all headed over to the marathon expo which took place in Berlin’s Tempelhof airport buildings. The airport was built in the 1920’s and it ceased operating in 2008 and is now used as a recreational space. In September 2015 it was announced that it would also become an emergency refugee camp. The expo was very big and was housed in two hangars of the former airport. We spent several hours there as this is a favorite traditional thing for marathon runners to do.
Friday we took a six hour tour by train to Potsdam. The guide, Julian, was very tall and handsome and spoke perfect English as he was from Toronto. Potsdam is a world heritage sight. It is very picturesque and brimming with fascinating history. We learned too much about Prussian kings and walked a mile through the Never Garten. We saw the Sans Souci palace. This was the home of Frederick the Great. As you can see from the pictures we did not enjoy the weather and returned home very wet, tired and hungry after covering 8 miles.