Sunday, the 16th of September, 2012.
On that day we were travelling by public transport to Borgsdorf visiting Ingrid and Erhard at their summer place. Ingrid is related to Peter’s family. Over the years we were always happy to visit Ingrid and Erhard whenever we happened to be in Berlin. On the phone Ingrid wanted to make sure we would come on Sunday. When I mentioned I still had a bit of a cold she said, not to worry, it was going to be a lovely, sunny day. I could just sit outside in the sun and this would do me good. I didn’t have to do anything. She was going to cook lunch for us, she said.
She did serve us a wonderful lunch. She loves to cook with healthy ingredients and lots of herbs and vegetables from her garden. I really felt all right sitting in the autumn sun for hours and hours, being served a lovely meal and later on coffee and cakes. Before the coffee break we all went for a walk to the close by river. Borgsdorf is a very secluded little village. In people’s gardens we could see fruit trees with hundreds of red apples on them.
This is an extract from a blog I wrote after our visit to Berlin in 2012:
My brother Peter Uwe had dropped us off at Berlin Tegel Airport. It was already afternoon, so he wanted to drive back straight away to his place in Mecklenburg/Vorpommern, where we had stayed with him and Astrid for the last few days of our holiday.
We checked in and then had plenty of time to have a drink with the six family members who had come to see us off:
Peter’s cousin Ingrid, Peter’s nephew Daniel, Peter’s sister Ilse, and all their partners, all had come to farewell us.
It turned out, the flight to Amsterdam was delayed. Because of this, we got into trouble with our connecting flight in Amsterdam. We had in Amsterdam actually less than one hour to get to our connecting flight. When I pointed this out to a cabin crew member he inquired about my age and whether I could walk all right. I told him I couldn’t walk as fast as younger people. Voila, a drive on a buggy was arranged for Peter and me.
Being driven through the immense airport with passengers roaming about and making way for the buggy, we felt like in a movie. It was a long, long drive to the departure point for our connecting flight. I doubt I could have made it in time by walking. We were extremely grateful for the lift and were able to board on time on the long stretch to Kuala Lumpur.
At Kuala Lumpur Airport we had a seven hour rest. From there we took off on a seven hour flight to Sydney. The longest non-stop stretch was from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, namely eleven hours! During this long flight Peter got sick. After that he had hardly anything to eat anymore.
I got distracted again. Searching for some pictures of Ingrid and Erhard, I finally found the departure pictures that Peter took at Berlin Tegel Airport. You can look at them here:
All the above happened in 2012. The wall had come down already in 1989. We were still thinking about it and all the changes it had brought. Berlin was an undivided city again, East- and West-Germany were one country. But we could still remember what it was like before the Fall of the Wall.
BACK IN AUSTRALIA
I wrote the following on the 19th of November 2012:
Peter and I landed safely back in Australia. Yesterday morning our daughter Caroline picked us up from Sydney airport and drove us to our home (100 km south of Sydney). So we’ve been back home now for nearly thirty hours and are gradually getting rid of our jet legs. Everything is fine at our place. Our lovely daughter is going to stay with us till tomorrow (Tuesday).
Six people had come to Berlin Tegel airport on Friday to see us off. We found the perfect place to have a drink with them. This was very relaxing for us. We knew already that our plane to Amsterdam was going to leave somewhat later than originally planned. My brother had driven us to the airport from his place in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. He had only dropped us off, for he wanted to be back home before it got too dark.
In Amsterdam we had scarce time to catch the connecting flight to Kuala Lumpur. We made sure we’d get some help by the airport people. Just as well! It turned out we had to go right to the other end of the airport. This would have meant a tremendous walk for us. We were very grateful for being driven to our departure point. I doubt that we could have made it on time by walking.
In Kuala Lumpur we had close to seven hours to catch our Malaysian connecting flight to Sydney. This meant we had no problem with being on time for boarding at the departure gate. It also gave us the opportunity to stretch our legs a bit and then take a break in a beautifully furnished cafe with French songs playing in the background. The toilet facilities were also very welcome. We couldn’t take a walk through the airport’s beautiful open air jungle walk since it was closed for renovations. What a pity!
Near our departure gate we found some stretch-out chairs. To be able to stretch out on these chairs we welcomed very much.
Some pictures of these stretch out chairs you can actually find in this blog:
I wrote in this blog further on:
We were grateful for the long break at Kuala Lumpur Airport. It gave us ample time to recover a bit from the previous eleven hour non-stop flight. In Kuala Lumpur Peter even enjoyed the coffee and cake we had at one of the airport’s coffee-shops. At some other establishment we had a large glass of iced Chi tea. This tasted very good and was very refreshing. On the next seven hour stretch to Sydney Peter refused food again. However he had lots of drinks all the time: Mainly water, but also some juice and coffee. He just didn’t feel like eating.
My main purpose of looking up all these posts was actually that I wanted to be reminded what experiences we had on previous visits to Berlin when the city was divided by that Wall. There was a lot of confusion going on about currencies in East and West, lifestyle changes dividing East and West, crippling shortages in the East. a lot of spying going on in the East, West-Berliners making nasty remarks about the “poor” East-Berliners and so on.
And after the Fall of the Wall? To this day these parts of Germany that had previously been GDR territory are still a bit less prosperous than their cousins in the other parts of Germany. Yes, it is one country again, but you do find differences. People in the East seem to be somewhat different from people in the West. The unemployment rate is much higher in the eastern parts of Germany. West-German companies seem to prefer to go to a neighbouring Eastern country where they can pay lower wages.
For some time low cost housing was available in East-Germany. In areas where there is work or tourism, housing prices are on the up. In some remote areas, where there is no work, low cost housing is of no use to the people. It is unbelievable, but people who cannot afford any more to pay for housing and live on the streets for most of the year, these people are on the increase, while other people gentrify their places, and they invest in places they can let for more and more rent. How about this attitude that “the Market” regulates all?