Soviet War Memorial Tiergarten

Our first full day in Berlin was a busy one. Me being the task master I was when planning our German trip, I had intended to start earlier than we actually did. And like other times during our trip, things didn't quite work out. We made our way from our home base at Frankfurter Tor to the station at Alexanderplatz, where I was promptly and thoroughly confused when we couldn't find the platform to the train for our final station, Hauptbahnnof. But what a beautiful station:

So my plans to tour the Reichstag were foiled by my poor planning, even poorer execution, and overall confusion about the Berlin public transportation system. The Reichstag has a reservation system, so you can't just wander on in, and there were no times that were going to work out for us the rest of the day. But we got really close to the building.

Distraught at this missed opportunity, we wandered through the Tiergarten (literally "Animal Park"), and using my handy dandy "Rick Steves Germany" book, came across the Soviet War Memorial.

I was quite familiar with the Soviet occupation on Berlin (not personal experience, though), and the Soviet domination of East Germany for decades afterwards, but it was still a little jarring to see this huge monument with Cyrillic. Having a huge enemy solider looming over the West German citizens during the Cold War couldn't have been very pleasant, either. Yep, the monument was built in British-controller Berlin during the four power period.

The monument reads: "Eternal glory to heroes who fell in the struggle against the German fascist invaders for the freedom and independence of the Soviet Union." 80,000 Soviet soldiers died in the assault on Berlin in 1945, with about 2,000 of them buried at the memorial site.

Also on the site are a howitzer and two T-34 tanks, some of the many weapons used during the battle. The fences aren't from 1945, but they were a theme of our day touring Berlin.

We only touched on the Tiergarten, but this is one of the interesting monuments in and near the park. It's only minutes away from the Brandenburg Gate, and worth a look if you're in the area.

In the middle of it all - Burgbernheim, Germany

Bavaria was a large part of our trip to Germany, though honestly, more of it should have been spent there instead of driving five hours from Berlin to Germany's southernmost state. But now I know.

Our second stay (after Berlin) in Germany was in central Bavaria. The main sites of this three-night stay were Bamberg, Wurzburg, and Rothenberg, so we needed a spot central to these places so the drive wouldn't be too overwhelming. After all, I didn't want to spend all day in the car, no matter how much fun it is driving on the Autobahn. (Hint: It gets old. It's a freeway, after all.)

My lovely and talented wife was in charge of finding places to stay once I had determined the itinerary. For this section of our adventure in the Fatherland, she chose Burgbernheim, a place I had never heard of, but was glad to have visited.

We approached Burgbernheim on B470 coming from the northeast, a road I drove several times during our multi-night stay in the area, and one I found myself enjoying quite a bit. It went through small town and a good pace, but more leisurely and less stressful than my cruise speed of 170 KPH on the Autobahn. As our GPS system showed us we were getting blessedly close, a town arose from the gently rolling hills of the Bavarian countryside. And after over five hours in the car, I was more than happy to be done driving for the day.