Toady, we visited Potsdam, Germany, which is just outside of Berlin. It is probably most famous for the Potsdam Conference, which occurred towards the end of World War II. It is a beautiful town, with palaces and a very quaint Dutch quarter. However, I had two separate incidents today that I will share as my Potsdam blog post.
The first place we visited was the palace of Sans Souci. Our wonderful, funny, and incredibly knowledgeable guide, Arja, was efficiently leading us around the palace gardens. We were wearing listening devices, called Vox or, informally, "Whispers," that allowed our guide to talk to us without having to raise her voice and disturb other visitors to the site. She gave us time to stop every once and awhile to take pictures, and I could always hear her voice on the Vox. Well, as I was taking a few pictures of a garden area, her voice started to crackle and then I lost her completely. Two of my fellow travelers were nearby, so I joined them, but we could not find our group! In a slight panic, we began wandering through the labyrinth of paths that were beautifully lined with trees and bushes, making it impossible to see very far ahead of us. At one point we found a road, and took that route, hoping to at least find the bus if we could not find the group. Suddenly, Ariel, one of the young women with me, saw Jürgen, our Go Ahead tour director. We caught up with him and learned that, at some point he realized he was missing three people, and he had begun to look for us. I was quite embarrassed, but that would not be the worst thing that happened to me today. The pictures directly below are of Sans Souci, and the flowers in the pictures below are the reason I became lost.
After visiting Sans Souci, we boarded the bus and rode into the Dutch Quarter I mentioned earlier. Here we were given an hour and a half to explore, shop, and eat lunch. If we sat down at a cafe to eat, we were warned to tell the waiter or waitress that we did not have a lot of time because service is extremely slow. Well, I joined our two Go Ahead representatives from the main office. They are taking the tour to experience first-hand what their travelers experience, so that they can better help people who call to book a tour. We were all thirsty, so we stopped at a little cafe called Cafe Rothenburg, took a seat outside, in the shade, and ordered. It is no exaggeration that service is slow in Potsdam. By the time we received our drinks, a good chunk of our hour and a half had passed, so we ordered a light lunch. We sat there and waited and waited for our food. Finally, I went into the cafe and told our waitress, "wenig Zeit!" (little time). When she brought our food, we had three minutes to make it to the meeting spot for the bus.
We paid, I got a piece of aluminum foil so that I could take my chicken salad with me (they did not have containers for taking food), and we literally ran to the meeting place. We were in such a hurry that, at one point, we thought we were lost, but I spotted the church bell tower. Needless to say, we were ten minutes late. I don't think I have ever been so embarrassed. For any of you who know me well, you know that my idea of being on time Is actually being early, and if I am on time, I feel that I am late. I did have a chance to explain our tardiness to both guides, but I am afraid I now have a reputation for not following directions or, at the very least, being late and getting lost. In the picture below, you will see a shot of a quaint residence across from the cafe.
I will finish this post with a few pictures of Cecilienhof Palace, where the Potsdam Conference took place. On a side note, I stuck very close to our tour guide the entire time we were at Cecilienhof. The tallest chair on the left side of one of the pictures is where President Truman sat during the Conference.