My previous episode of the blog ended just short of Berlin, we hadn’t yet arrived in the city proper. That was almost the end of May and since then we have spent a couple of weeks in the centre of Berlin, travelled south to its southern lake area, back to the centre and then north-east to within 10k of the Polish border and back again.
Our first 24 free mooring on the Spree, Berlin. From here we visited the lovely Charlottenburg Schloss just a short cycle away
From a bridge just near our city centre mooring, Reichstag to the left with the glass viewing dome which you have to book in advance to ascend.
Protected part of a section of wall that remains
I’m typing this in Bolton but by the time many (or maybe any) of you read this I will be back in Germany. I’ve come home for a few days to attend the funeral of a well loved boating friend but have also taken the opportunity to visit my family and catch up with some friends. Nigel has stayed on the boat with the dogs and has kept himself busy completing some jobs that needed doing.
Floating marble sphere
It was very special to arrive in Berlin by boat, we got to within about 5k of the city centre and chose a sunny morning to finally do the last few kilometres, setting off at 9ish to make sure of a mooring. The river around the city has a number of free moorings, there are no facilities (e.g.water or electricity) but you can stay for 24 hours and then you need to move on. This has resulted in the “Berlin shuffle” as it is called with boats moving short distances backwards and forwards giving their crew a chance to explore the centre. There are no rules about not moving back to a spot you have already moored at after 24 hours have elapsed so this is what we did. The river is shared at this point by many trip boats and river taxis so one gets a fair amount of wash.
Iconic TV tower, formally East Berlin
Berlin is still undergoing much building work and there are road works, scaffolding and cranes all over the place. I don’t know how the picturesque views on some of the postcards I’ve bought have been taken. However, despite that, it’s a vibrant ever varied cityscape with some wonderful architecture. We haven’t yet been able to get anywhere near the Brandenburg Gate for instance, one time we tried it was cordoned off by police because the Egyptian Prime minister was visiting and on another occasion, the weekend of the UEFA Cup, the whole area was taken up with some kind of football extravaganza!
We did two open bus city tours with English commentary, something I never imagined I’d get my husband agreeing to I might add, which enabled us to see far more of the outlying parts than we otherwise would have done. We’ve also cycled quite a bit and I, of course have been walking the dogs, sometimes for hours because I usually want to see just around the next corner!
Our Reichstag mooring
Commercial pusher and two laden dumb barges just about to pass us
Mind your head……some very low bridges on the Landwehr canal!
So eventually when we fancied some peace and quiet we headed away from the city and had a few quieter moorings a bit further away in more rural areas. This included the “almost to Poland “ trip when we negotiated a small, weedy, water lily lined canal which is solely for pleasure craft now…the Finow canal, in order to sample the delights of the Niederfinow Ship Lift. This wonderful piece of engineering lifts your boat 36 metres in about 5 minutes and replaces 6 locks which would take hours to lock through, thus reducing the bottleneck from the Oder river to the canal. We returned via the commercial canal which the big boys use and thus we reached Oranienburg again where the boat, Nigel and the dogs now are. Here when we stayed on the way out we found the staff very welcoming and helpful and we decided it would be a good base for him to be to wait for me to return. It was an hour and a quarter on the train to the airport for me but the German public transport system is efficient and cheap and the only trouble I had on my early morning departure was finding out at 6.00 am that the marina was locked with gates neither of us had previously noticed and I had to scramble over the fence to get out! Luckily I managed to “get a leg over” or I would have missed my flight. I think it’ll be an early night tonight…..have to be at the airport at 5am tomorrow for my flight at 7.
Even though it was for a sad reason, I’ve enjoyed my few days at home and it was lovely to see my boys and their partners and little Hattie who will have turned 3 next time I see her. She proudly told me, “Grandma, I’m going to nursery school in September.” Even all those years as an Early Years teacher didn’t prepare me for how much that little sentence meant to me.