Berlin, Germany Summer 2019 (History Repeats itself: Uneasy feeling in Germany).

Sorry Germany lovers, the Caylor-Browns will not be returning to Germany.   If you would like to recall our first unpleasant experience with Germany or read for the first time what happened to us in Munich in 2012,  please read:

Don’t Eat at Woerner’s 

In 2012, I honestly thought it was the warm weather and hundreds of extra tourists that made the Germans edgy: There are other turbulent currents under the sea of migratory change in Germany.

The pleasant photos you will view were the onset of our arrival and the celebratory feeling of returning to Europe on Friday June 21. Three weeks later we returned to the Berlin travel hub to fly back to the United States after a wonderful and engaging Central European vacation. On Tuesday July 9 around 10 AM, Berlin Train Nazis entered the train we were on, violated us, and made us pay 120 Euros for not having inner-city train tickets. We asked the “train police” to escort us off the train and help us buy a ticket. They refused! They told us they would call the police and turn us in at the Train Station stop. Carter and Ammon were SCARED TO DEATH especially after studying then visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau and seeing what Germans did to Europeans nearly 100 years ago. The train Nazis first told us that it was 60 Euros each (240) we did not have that much! We did not have a ticket because no one else bought a ticket all morning on neither the bus nor the train. We asked them to 1) Please escort us to an ATM, or 2) Escort us to the Ticket kiosk and explain what we needed to do. “No, it’s either 120 Euros for you two adults or we call the police!”  Earlier in the morning we had tried to read the kiosk, and it was very confusing. Three weeks earlier we had walked everywhere without the train/bus system. Thanks be to God, combined, Sean and I had EXACTLY 120 Euros!!  We will not travel to Germany again. The whole time in Berlin we felt oppressed and troubled spiritually… much like foreign travelers felt traveling in Germany in the late 1920s and 1930s. The German authority figures are bullies using “terrorist tactics” (we are calling the police, they said) to manhandle their citizens and foreign travelers.

So, we finally “shook off” the scare of the Berlin police imprisoning Daddy H and Daddy S (what would have happened to Carter & Ammon!!), finished the day, and prepared to go home. The following day at the Berlin , Tegel, Airport was horrific. We were there 2 hours ahead of time, but there was AWFUL and EXTENDED bag check in and security check lines.

As soon as we stepped up to the passport counter Sean and I were targeted. The “gentleman” scowled at us. Hours before, all our liquids had been placed in zip-bags and the beverage bottles had been thrown away. All my pockets had been cleaned out and the items placed in my backpack, but at one point in the security line Sean had asked me about the taxi receipt we had just gotten from our ride from the Novotel Tiergarten to the airport. I took the wallet out of my backpack and read the time we had arrived at the airport.  In haste and out of habit, I placed my wallet back in my pants pocket. So, in the security line, I went last in our family of four. Sean had gone through the bag search with Carter, and I had helped Ammon who went into a panic when she thought she might have food in her backpack. The little, middle-aged, militant (short haircut and uniform) security lady said in English with her militant, German accent, “Any food?” “No, I hope not”, I said in an exasperated tone. “Anything in your pockets. Everything out of your pockets!” My verbal reaction was “No!” She looked at my pocket and saw my wallet that I had absentmindedly placed back in my front pocket. In an elevated voice she repeated, “Everything out of your pockets!”, I was more mad at myself than her. With a look of disgust, I took out my wallet and tossed it in the bin. THAT WAS IT for the little security Nazi. She immediately lifted her hand to a female protégée on the other side of the X-ray machine, and I knew I was “in for it” … As I walked through the metal detector (stripped of everything metal and had CLEANLY passed through ALL the airports from Atlanta to Berlin, to Budapest, to Krakow) I began walking to the protégée, and I did, indeed, beep. The male security man began man-handling me. I did not know that they had done the exact thing to Sean who had also “argued about some food”. Carter went to the woman and said, “I would like to complain that you all are searching my dads’ private parts, and that isn’t right.” Another Nazi lady said, “This is the security check. We can!” …. It was awful, folks.

I will repeat, we will not be returning to Germany. HOWEVER, I did want to share these photos from our pleasant days.

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Brandenburg Gate (Happy Beginnings June 21, 2019: The dark cloud of the day was a Palestinian parade near Alexanderplatz shouting about racist Jews )

 

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Ruins of the Berlin Wall near Checkpoint Charlie.

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The Berlin Cathedral.

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day 2015

My 1st 4 Leaf Clover of 2015 was found on St. Patrick's Day!!

My 1st 4 Leaf Clover of 2015 was found on St. Patrick’s Day!!

St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin, Ireland: June 13, 2011 I’ve always enjoyed all the “wearing of the green” and the leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day. However, it wasn’t until our day in Dublin, Ireland June of 2011, that I felt a “spiritual conncetion” with Saint Patrick.  I had even read several times yet without absorbing much history of Saint Patrick to really know his story.

St. Patrick

He had been taken from  homeland in Wales (Great Britain) to be a slave in Ireland. He was approximately 16, and by his early 20s he had made it back to Wales. He then became a minister and returned to Ireland. He writes that he “baptized thousands of people”. He ordained priests to lead the new Christian communities. He converted wealthy women, some of whom became nuns in the face of family opposition. He also dealt with the sons of kings, converting them too.

Carter, Nana, Haven, & Ammon (admiring the vaulted ceilings)
June 13, 2011: St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin, Ireland

My favorite building in Dublin, Ireland was St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It had such a warmth and “spirit” about it. It wasn’t like other cathedrals I have been in where it was like a museum instead of a place of worship. St. Patrick’s work was filled with love and giving, and his spirit seems to permeate his cathedral.

St. Patrick’s Day 2015

St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin, Ireland: June 13, 2011 I’ve always enjoyed all the “wearing of the green” and the leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day. However, it wasn’t until our day in Dublin, Ireland June of 2011, that I felt a “spiritual conncetion” with Saint Patrick.  I had even read several times yet without absorbing much history of Saint Patrick to really know his story.

St. Patrick

He had been taken from  homeland in Wales (Great Britain) to be a slave in Ireland. He was approximately 16, and by his early 20s he had made it back to Wales. He then became a minister and returned to Ireland. He writes that he “baptized thousands of people”. He ordained priests to lead the new Christian communities. He converted wealthy women, some of whom became nuns in the face of family opposition. He also dealt with the sons of kings, converting them too.

Carter, Nana, Haven, & Ammon (admiring the vaulted ceilings)
June 13, 2011: St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin, Ireland

My favorite building in Dublin, Ireland was St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It had such a warmth and “spirit” about it. It wasn’t like other cathedrals I have been in where it was like a museum instead of a place of worship. St. Patrick’s work was filled with love and giving, and his spirit seems to permeate his cathedral.

Annette & Frank Margo/Schwerin, Germany

Open Seas and Open Minds

Annette & Frank Margo with Ammon and Carter: June 28, 2012

Astronomical Clock: Rostock Cathedral: Rostock, Germany

Outside Schwerin Castle

Schwerin Castle: June 28, 2012

When we started taking cruises in 2008, we had no idea we would meet such wonderful people. I am going to post my “Open Seas and Open Minds” article with this blog in case you all would like to read about some excellent people from around the world who really mean or have meant a lot to Carter, Ammon, Sean, and to me.

On our port-of-call in Warnemunde, Germany we found ourselves conversing and bonding with a couple from Texas named Annette and Frank Margo. They became new, honorary grandparentsfor Ammon and Carter, and, once again, our children and we have been blessed. After the cruise, we exchanged emails, and we have corresponded frequently since the cruise. Frank and Annette, we love you!!

In addition, we saw three different cities this day: Warnemunde, Schwerin, and Rostock. We spent most of time in Schwerin. It is a quaint city, but Schwerin Castle is the only “real” thing to see there. It was definitely not a place to buy souvenirs because, frankly, there is very little artisanship there.

Copenhagen

The Little Mermaid, Ammon, & Haven: Copenhagen July 6, 2012

The Little Mermaid, Sean, & Carter: Copenhagen July 6, 2012

Tivoli Carousel

Tivoli Carousel: July 2, 2012

Early spring of 2012, Sean and I debated on several days in Copenhagen with a horrible itinerary flying back to the United States to home or making it to London, England with a very comfortable and accommodating itinerary home. Since we (Carter and Ammon included) enjoy London, we chose a one day tour in Copenhagen. Like several other places, guess what we’ve decided? You got it! We want to return to Copenhagen.

The Baltic Cruise was round trip out of Copenhagen. Both the embarkation and disembarkation days were cool and rainy: quite depressing. It was a shame that this lovely, seaside city looked so gray and dreary. However, like I said it is a pretty city.

Both Ammon and Carter thought it was cool to see the “original” Little Mermaid from Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale. We also visited a quaint cathedral, but the highlight of the excursion was Copenhagen’s famous Tivoli (a world-renowned amusement park). We did not have much time there, but Carter and Ammon got to ride a carousel (it’s kind of becoming their “thing” to ride carousels from around the world…LOL).
So, too quick of an excursion for such an interesting and pretty city. Lord willing, we will return.

Helsinki, Finland

Sean, Ammon, Haven, & Carter: Near Porvoo, Finland July 3, 2012

Carter inside the Rock Church

Porvoo, Finland

Sibelius monument: July 3, 2012

It was our second time to Helsinki, Finland, and we decided to take a more rural tour of the area. We did not go to the bustling downtown area this time. Our tour guide was EXCELLENT, and she made this experience EXCELLENT (our tour guide from 2010 was a dud).

We started early near the water, traveled to a village named Porvoo, had lunch in a restaurant that had been converted from a dairy barn, saw the Sibelius (music composer) monument of tubes, visited the The Temppeliaukio Kirkko (Rock Church) hewn from inside a huge boulder, then back to the ship.
The day was nice and “laid back”, and it was wonderful to recharge after the intense touring of St. Petersburg the previous two days.

We highly recommend traveling to Helsinki.

St. Petersburg, Russia

The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood : St. Petersburg, Russia

Our Whole Crew: St. Petersburg, Russia outside Church of the Spilled Blood

Inside St. Isaac’s Cathedral: July 2, 2012

The Pine Trees are fountains! Peterhof Palace Gardens

Peterhof Palace: July 2, 2012

Tomb of Peter the Great: Peter and Paul Fortress St. Petersburg

Wax Figures in the Yusupov Palace: Rasputin (Integral part in the downfall of the Royal Romanov Russian Dynasty) is about to murdered with the help of Felix Yusupov

Hermitage Museum of Art: July 1, 2012

I wish I could say “ I’m in love with the city of St. Petersburg!” , but I cannot. I appreciate it, and I THINK, I could like it, but I’m just not there yet. Sean and I have spoken with several fellow travelers these past two years, and they are quite “smitten” with the city. I do think it’s quite pleasing to the eye and loaded with history: to me very sad history.

We have been there twice, and each time there are literally “hoards” of people. There are traffic jams, traffic accidents (our own bus driver hit TWO cars on our 2nd day of touring). We have had two intelligent, informative, and friendly tour guides these past two trips, but the regular people we have encountered have neither been friendly nor enveloping. Both times I have been there I have experienced that “Give me your tourism $$, then get the heck out!”

Russia’s Czar, Peter the Great, created this “young” city (1703) from swamp lands. He dragged his country practically “kicking and screaming” into the modern era of the world. However, he died, Russia couldn’t “keep it together” again. It seemed to almost have it with Alexander II, but he died at the hands of a homicidal maniac.

I wrote this time last year of “Victims of History” such as Mary,Queen of Scots and Czar Nicholas II of Russia. I first heard and read of the Nicolas when I was about 11 years old. He had such deep love and devotion for his wife, son, and daughters, but not the same love for the people of his country…that is the tragic downfall.
Okay, what I do like very much from St.Petersburg…. 1)St. Isaac’s Cathedral, 2)Church of the Spilled Blood and just outside of St. Petersburg…3)Peterhof Palace Gardens.