train to cottbus
Matt and I decided to take a detour to see another town outside Berlin. Our friend Sophia grew up in Cottbus, Germany. The plan was to meet her grandparents who are non-english speaking Germans, tour a famous park and eat German Schnitzel.
We met Sophia at the Cottbus train station around 11am. We then headed to her grandfather's apartment complex to meet him and his wife. We walked into a beautiful courtyard with vines scaling the walls all around us. Sophia's grandfather was waiting for us at the door. We greeted him with broken German as he smiled and laughed. He then went ahead and rolled out a few sentences in German as Sophia translated. We all laughed as none of us besides Sophia knew what any of us were saying.
The four of us took our shoes off while heading up the stairs to meet Sophia's grandmother. Both of her grandparents are in their mid-70s. Sophia's grandfather reminded me of my grandfather, Don. My grandpa was always smiling and excited to see my brother and I. He'd make us popcorn, scoop us a couple spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream and ask about our day. That's how Sophia's grandfather greeted us, minus the famous popcorn. It brought back good memories.
We all sat down and talked about Sophia, ourselves and the many questions Matt and I had about growing up in Cottbus during WWll. Sophia's grandfather was born in 1940 right before his father went to war in Russia. There he died from starvation in the snowy field of the Russian countryside. I'm almost positive his father was a Nazi soldier during the war. I made a good decision not to ask. Either way, he was one of the nicest people I'd met on my trip. No matter the connection to a forgettable era.
Our next plan was to walk around the town square and eat some lunch. We walked into a beautiful square that reminded me of The Truman Show. It was too perfect. The buildings were picturesque, the people smiling and going about their day, the sun shining with minimal clouds in the sky and the delicious scent of fresh bread in the air. I was pretty content with my day at that point.
The main square in Cottbus. Majority of the people were behind me when I took this photo.
The three of sat down at the Mosquito Restaurant. I had a Ginella's Special that consisted of Spanish ham (jamon) wrapped in honeydew melon, chorizo eggs, green olives, tomatoes and mozzarella, bread and butter and orange juice. It wasn't the most German lunch... But it was delicious.
After lunch, the three of us walked to the old church near the square. From what Sophia said, this was the best viewpoint of the city. We paid 1 Euro each to climb the old church steps to get to the top. What a sight we had of the entire Cottbus area.
I'm not the most religious person. But, I do enjoy seeing the artwork and craftsmanship of each church/old religious building I see on my trip.
Old church bells as we climb the many steps to the top
The view from the top of the church
The last part of our day was exploring Branitz Park with Sophia's grandfather. Branitz Park represents the life work of famous landscaper Herman Prince von Puckler-Muskau (1785-1871). He was one of Europe’s greatest garden artists, a womaniser, a successful travel book author, an enthusiast of fancy food who gave his name for an ice cream.
The land the park lays on was once barren farm land that was undeveloped. This gorgeous park was created from scratch by Prince over many years. It consists of sloping hills, elegant waterways and ponds, giant 200 year old trees and Prince's house and gardens. The property is worldly known for its beautiful landscaping and creative designs. The design of the property is inspired by Prince's trips to England, Egypt and South East Asian countries.
Adolf Hitler used this property during the war as a summer home. There are bunkers underground as well as underground passage ways.
Herman Prince von Puckler-Muskau (1785-1871) is buried in an Egyptian style pyramid
After Branitz Park, Sophia, Matt and I went to dinner at Stadtwachter. This restaurant is well known for it's unique beer combinations and German Schnitzel.
Above is the Schnitzel I had. Delicious!
Dinner was a success. The food was delicious. This was the ending to an educational day. Matt and I said our good byes to Sophia and headed to the train.
Matt, Sophia and I