Sunday, September 20, 2015

Day 38: Schloss Charlottenburg

Well, crap. My throat hurts... a lot. Crap. Crap. Crap. But the show must go on.

Chris and I spent the morning finishing up some plans for our up-comping trip to Munich and Salzburg, Austria. And by this, I mean, I sat on the couch, keeping Chris company as he booked our flights home from Austria. We actually already had tickets, round trip, to Munich, but they were purchased using "miles" and thus, more expensive to change than to just buy single trip tickets from Austria.

Random: We happened to decide (several weeks ago) to got to Oktoberfest this up-coming weekend... turns out, it's the same weekend at the big BMW marathon in Berlin. Bummer to miss it. Or good to miss it? I hear the crowds are crazy big.

Then to buy our train tickets from Munich to Salzburg. Well, this was a crappy experience. When we bought our tickets to Prague, it was no problem, punch in the info, get tickets with proper info. This time, we (Chris) put in 2 adults and 2 children. We verified the info, it was all good. Then, once we confirmed, we got the pdf to print our tickets and... it only had 2 adults on it?!?! So, we panic. Let's try again. But guess what? You can't buy just tickets for kids, as kids need to be accompanied by an adult. So we can't buy two kids tickets. We must buy 1 adult and 1 kid. Ok, the tickets aren't too expensive, so we'll just do it. But, damn it, the pdf says 1 adult, no kids. WTF?

The 80s dork in me is
reminded of Pet Shop Boys'
"West End Girls" song.
Chris (champion that he is) calls the DB (Deutsch Bahn) get someone who speaks English and asks, WTF? Well, turns out, on these "shorter" routes, kids don't really need a ticket, as long as they are accompanied by an adult. And no, we can't cancel the ticket. So, we are not clear if we bought 6 tickets and will only be using 4. Or if we bought 3, when we only needed 2. In either case, how does the train system know not to oversell if kids aren't counted on the tickets? So unclear, so NOT instilling confidence. But it is what it is and we now have tickets (too many). P.S. Chris is not in a good mood as I explain we just paid a "tourist tax"....

By now, half the day is over, so what to do? Let's go see a castle!

We're off to see Schloss Charlottenburg, just on the far west side of town.

The gates surrounding the schloss or "castle" (left), The main building (right).

We paid for a family ticket, which allowed us access to the old wing and the new wing, otherwise, it is two different entrance fees. Both had included audio tours which the kids decided not to use, while Chris and I used them for both wings. Venice opted, instead, to read the plaques placed in each room.

Windows looking out into the garden (top-left). The green mirror room (bottom-left).
The porcelain room (bottom-middle).  Mancala board! (bottom-right)
One of the many ornate ceilings, this one had three dimensional items, such as the cloud (right)

Something you hear a lot during this tour is that "this is just a replica, the original was destroyed during WWII." Or, "Sophie Charlotte saw the plans for this part of the building, but she died before it was finished." I even thought I heard, once, that the parquet floors were installed in 1980 (but I think this was the only "new" thing I remember hearing about). Oh, and it seems that EVERYTHING is gilded. Wow. Very opulent. Still, odd to tour something that was heavily replicated (and not the original).

Windows (but on the second floor) overlooking the gardens (top-left). A seismograph, one of many (top-right).
The gardens (bottom-left). Staircase to the second floor (right).

Something that was original! The Japanese room, however,
I swear the audio tour said they were Chinese tapestries (top-left)
Ballroom (top-right), Port of Venice painting (bottom-left)
Venice with a large book in the library (bottom-middle)
A grandfather clock that reminds me of the Bailey's grandfather clock (bottom-right)

FYI, you can only take photos of the outside, unless you purchase a "one-day permit", which we did.

After seeing both wings, we wandered around back (this part is free and is right up against the river, so many are here jogging, walking with strollers, or just taking a stroll). The grounds were beautiful and we wondered how many gardeners they had on retainer to work here keeping it looking so nice.

The outside grounds.

I missed this (as I was talking with the kids using one ear and listening to the tour with the other), but Chris said he heard that Sophie did not like to use a carriage, and preferred to take a boat anywhere in town. So, they had their own boat launch, river access.

Again, the landscaping was beautiful and gigantic. I can't imagine having such a beautiful garden to wander through whenever one pleases. Idyllic.

You can see from our photos (and the coats that we are wearing along with longer pants... at least some of us) that it is definitely cooler now. Leaves are falling on the ground. Most trees are not showing any signs of changing, but the wind feels brisk and fall is definitely approaching.

Funny story. I went to the bathroom, here at the castle. Venice and I walk into the "ante" room that leads to the women's and men's bathrooms. There is a woman sitting there, who looks at us as soon as we walk in. I figure, we must pay, right? So, I start fishing for my 50 cents, but is it 50 or 10 or 20? I can't figure it out. I don't see a sign indicating how much it is? Venice suggests we just put money into the box on the wall, but I don't see coins in there. 

I look expectantly at the women and ask how much (of course, I'm panicked, so it comes out in English)... she just mumbles something (could have been total gibberish) but I take it to sound like, "I'm just sitting here." OMG, she's NOT an attendant. She's just a lady waiting for her husband who's using the men's room. OMG. I guide Venice into the bathroom saying, "run, run, go, go"... 


The end of our day at Schloss Charlottenburg.

This time of day is always hard to navigate. It is late enough that it's almost time for dinner. But to "find" dinner may take some time. First, we have to think of a place to eat (and try to please four people). Then we have to get there. So, maybe we should stop for a coffee first and get a small snack. BUT, we aren't in the centre of town, so coffee shops aren't really easily found, only restaurants. And if we're going to go to a restaurant, maybe we should just go to the one where we'll eat. Back to square one, where should we eat? And this goes on for about 15 minutes, while Chris and I discuss options, meanwhile time is only ticking by.

Things you see while figuring out dinner.
A painted utility box (left) and another Buddy Bear (right).

Oooh, light bulb! Chris remembers a great restaurant on this side of town, just a few blocks away, that serves all kinds of schnitzel! Perfect! We walk into the restaurant with no reservations. It's 7pm. Can we eat within 1.5 hours? Yes? Then right this way!

Yum, that was a fantastic meal.

On the way home, there was a light rain and we were treated to a beautiful double rainbow and sunset. It was a great afternoon, ticking off one of Chris' "to do" items.

Rain through the tracks (left), Rainbow (middle), Sunset (right)

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