September 22, 2005

Eastern Europe Journal #2 - 8/3 and 8/4

August 3rd, 2005 - Berlin

Another long day in Berlin. If it weren't for all the food I've been eating, all this walking would be a good calorie burn. Today we saw Checkpoint Charlie and the old Gestapo headquarters with 200 meters of the original wall left standing. Unfortunately, it rained all day long. Germany is known for a few things, and one of them is lousy weather.

Another thing is rude customer service. Waiters, fast food workers, and store clerks are awfully rude. There are a few reasons for this. First, they get paid the same no matter what, as there is little tipping in Germany. Second, that's just the way Germans are in public. The Germans I actually know are pretty pleasant, but the ones I don't need to learn a little bit about service. I'm paying to eat her. Serving me is not a favor you're doing, it's an expectation that comes with me paying your inflated German price.

Oh, and then we drove to Poland. The bus driver hit the sights pretty hard as well today, which must have worn him out since we drove for about two hours and then stopped at a restaurant in the middle of nowhere Poland for three hours in the middle of the night so he could take a rest. There was no warning that this would be a three hour stop, and sleeping on the bus is not my idea of a good time. I'm either too tall or too short to get comfortable. I haven't decided which.

August 4th, 2005 - Poznan

It's a city of 590,000, and we must have seen most of it in our search for lunch. We walked to a place that was described as "10 minutes away." Half an hour later, we arrived to find it closed. Thirty minutes after that, we had hopped a street car and ended up at a Polish restaurant where the pierogis were good but not worth an hour trip. Especially considering the fact that the "leader" had no thoughts of keeping the group together.

Previously, we had seen the mechanical goats at noon in the town square. Leaving there, we thought we might get some lunch soon. Three hours and some sore feet later, we sat down to the aforementioned pierogis.

The sights in Poznan were good, however. We saw a Polish cathedral, underneath which were the ruins of the oldest cathedral in Poland, built in the tenth century. The main square of Poznan is still very much intact, as the city escaped major damage during World War II. Additionally, we saw a castle being power washed. The difference, as seen in the accompanying photo, was striking. According to the Polish coach traveling with us, Hitler lived in that castle for a while during WWII. According to my research, that's not exactly accurate. The castle built in 1913, and prepared for Hitler in case he ever came to Poznan, but he never visited the city.

Tomorrow, we finally wrestle.