I think we walked our legs off today. A little too enthusiastic about the exercise, we jogged for about six km in the morning and then found that Raf — the tour guide who will need to be introduced later — had a similar approach to sightseeing as us. By the end of the day we had walked at least twenty km, so I think it was great preparation for the camino, but thank heavens tomorrow is the train trip to Warsaw. We didn’t join the younger members of the party in their jäger bombing, so we will have to save that up for another night!

So, to the comrades in arms: I think we have got lucky! I think both Paula and I had been wondering about what sharing a tour would be like, and finding that we have a mix of Canadians and Australians, with a lone American, has been really pleasant. We have a mix of ages and backgrounds, so it is good fun.

Rafal is the tour leader and is a young doctoral student from Krakow, very knowledgeable and good fun. We found out that he has just got married and just submitted his thesis, so he has had an adventurous year. Everything is well-organised and the restaurants he has chosen have all turned out well so far.

Beverley and Bruce, and Barry and Gail, are two couples travelling together from Alberta, Canada. I think Bruce has and Bev are retired and they seem to do a lot of travelling — great fun and lots of laughter, particularly now that Bruce has beaten his jet lag. Leigh is from Melbourne and travelling solo, and she seems to have been on the road for months, travelling in some exotic places. Kimberley is the red-haired speech path from Melbourne, on her way to working in England for a year — her backpack is bigger than she is! Sohaila is from San Francisco and quite exotic, as she is originally from Iran. Dale and Rachel have been travelling for months but got engaged on the trip. Both have a basketball background, Dale as a first grade coach in Brisbane and Rachel — well, when she stands up you can see that she was a college and professional basketball player! Daniel and Caroline are a young Canadian couple, much quieter than the older four! Finally, there’s Crystal, who is from small-town Alberta and Laura, who is training as a psych nurse in Edmonton.

The four young ones are making the going as the party animals, but I think Rachel and Dale will not be far behind when the time comes. So far, we have gone quietly, but I think the beer will get even better as we go east and Raf has promised an introduction to Polish vodka. Estupendo! Or if you’re Polish …

Today was bucket list stuff, the wall, Checkpoint Charlie, back to the holocaust memorial and the Bundestag. The photos tell is best, particularly the checkpoint itself, which was a tourist trap. However, some of the historical information was great and there is a real effort to remember the appalling social cost of the wall as well as the lives lost.

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Because it is eighty years since the Nazis seized power, there are street installations everywhere commemorating those who suffer persecution or death at the hands of the Nazis, with a particular emphasis on intellectuals, politicians and unionists. I think that, as the last of the scars of both the DDR and the Reich are swept away, there is a sense that commemoration is important.

I would come back here, because there were museums galore and some beautiful buildings we never saw, as well as trips to Wannsee, Potsdam and the Zoo district. Oh well, you can’t do it all, and finishing the day with a drink and pub meal with a pretty riotous group was good fun. Enough, onward to Poland.

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