Wendy and I are waking at 6 and talking so much we are always in a rush just before Katharina is due. Can you believe it? Me talk too much, never. Katharina is always prompt too. Katharina arrived at 10 as arranged to take us into Berlin but she said there was a major demonstration by cyclists ( 90,000!) and all the roads are blocked so we decide to visit the Glienicker Schloss and gardens and Peacock Island. This is where Prince Carl of Prussia spent his summer and the castle was built in the manner of a Roman villa with lovely views over the lake.
Peacock island is where a white Castle was built by King Willhelm the II for his mistress, who was reputed to be only 13! The strange thing is it looks like white marble but is actually painted wood! It doesn’t seem very solid, more like a movie set. The mistress liked peacocks so there are many and they wander freely. They actually keep water buffalo here in the summer to keep the grass down in the wetlands.
There is also a miniature frigate donated by the English King George to Willhelm which is housed in a boat shed that has an immaculate thatched roof. The first frigate was let to rot! I can’t imagine why he was given another after that. One upmanship perhaps as it was a replica of the ship that won a battle against Napoleon.
The grounds are so extensive on the island and around the Schloss that it is really hard to grasp such wild woods so close to Berlin. Katharina says there are wild boar in the parks and they have chased her little dog Theo. In the park while we were walking to the Peacock island we heard the most musical bells from the little church that is hidden in the forest. The bells sounded like a music box. Katharina said the little church only takes about 100 people and at Christmas you have to book a seat! We also saw across the lake the Sacrow church. The tower was part of the Berlin Wall.
We decided to catch the bus back to the car and Katharina was going to take us to Sansouci, another summer palace in Potsdam for another King, Friedrich who never went to Berlin where his wife lived. He stayed in the summer palace or in winter at his Potsdam palace. Apparently his father had locked him up until he consented to marry. Needless to say he had no children! As the bus zoomed along Wendy said isn’t that were we left the car? Katharina replied no further, then as we were about to head over the bridge we realised Wendy was correct. It was the same mistake Wendy and I made the previous day! Katharina was a bit embarrassed but we though it was a huge joke.
Katharina dropped us near Sansouci because she hates to leave her dog Theo for too long. He goes everywhere with her and frets when she is away. Katharina rescued him from Greece after we walked the Via de la Plata in 2014 and it was love at first site on her part. He has returned her devotion in bucket loads and is such a quiet little fellow.
Sansouci has the most exotic rooms with much baroque decoration. Friedrich was a great lover of art and nature and all the decorations and paintings reflect this theme. The grounds are tiered with grapevines and fig trees in glass cabinets. He had so many parties he had to build another place to house his guests! The area had 40 windmills to grind grain for the king’s army but there is only one left now. After we had strolled around the gardens we caught the bus into Potsdam itself and then the tram back home. While we had time we crossed the little bridge near our place and went up to look at Schloss Babelsberg. We see the machine building( power plant for the castle) from our window and it looks like a mini castle too.
Then it was a scramble for us to get refreshed (I have hardly any clothes) before we went off to Wannsee and the Boothaus, a casual eatery right on the water where Katharina has a berth for the boat she is restoring and where she cleans the sailing school. It is like being on Sydney harbour in one of the little coves. Boat berths are at such a premium she was offered €10,000 for hers. While her boat is out of the water having its hull repaired she is letting the space. I was a bit surprised to see water lilies around the boats. I keep thinking it is salt water. On the opposite bank of the lake is a beach and beach Pavillion. It is huge and has been there for a very long time.
Theo comes to the restaurant( dogs are allowed inside too) and sits at our feet. When we finish our very delicious meal we realise he has disappeared. Everyone knows him and nobody seems concerned except for Wendy and I. It turns out he got sick of waiting and took off to the car! Katharina was so impressed he knew which car. She lives near here so it is his ‘patch’. Another big day. Wendy leaves tomorrow so we need to be up early as Katharina is kindly taking her to Tegal Airport.
I am going to miss Wendy. We had a lot of fun together and really got to know each other better.