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Potsdam (Berlin - Day 2)

Potsdam, a short train ride from the centre of Berlin, is where one has one’s summer palace. One being Frederick the Great (Fredrich II). Many Berliners still head there in summer to get away from busy Berlin, and with Potsdam more relaxed feel you can see why.

Potsdam has quite the history. Wars have begun and ended in Potsdam, the centre of which was flattened by the allied forces at the end of WWII. The buildings we see today are faithful reconstructions of the past and many have only recently been rebuilt (recently as in the last couple of years, some not quite done yet).

Potsdam, which is the capital of Brandenburg, also boasts the first Brandenburg gate (upon which the gate in Berlin is based). But it’s the palaces and their gardens tourists come to see. Thankfully, the Sanssouci and Neue palaces were spared the bombing. I wandered the lovely streets of the town and the gardens of the palaces, but unfortunately did not have time to venture inside either (now both museums). Besides, the sun was out (for a change) and though cold, it was delightful!

Frederick the Great built Sanssouci Palace and more or less made it his home in later years, leaving instructions to be buried there along with his 11 beloved greyhounds. He is buried there now, but was originally buried elsewhere by his successor (and nephew) out of spite (families!). Affectionately known as the Potato King, Frederick the Great did much for Germany’s agricultural development which, in turn, ensured his people (including peasants) always had food on the table. There was a lovely little collection of potatoes on his very modest grave.

Frederick the Great was a flautist who loved to perform until he lost all of his teeth ruining his career as a busker (luckily, modern dentistry has him back on the grounds of Sanssouci Palace performing for tourists).

On the subject of music, I raced back to Berlin from Potsdam for the first of my evening concerts - a wonderful performance by a pianist named Alexandre Kantorow (with accompanying violins, viola and cello) at the Pierre Boulez Saal. The Pierre Boulez Saal is a lovely, modern and intimate concert venue with great acoustics where the audience surrounds the performers and everyone (me included) had great seats.

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