My parents left this morning after having spent a week with us. It was great to see them, to catch up on stories, to play Pinochle with them, and to get their help carrying things back to the States. While they were here, we showed them three cities: Hamburg, Berlin, and Bremen.
It’s just a co-incidence that the cities that they visited are the three city-states in Germany. We saw Hamburg because we live here, Berlin because my parents really wanted to visit the flashpoint of the Cold War, and Bremen to see the Freimarkt, the closest equivalent to a big Oktoberfest in northern Germany.
We spent almost half their time here in Berlin. It was a great visit that meant a lot to both of my parents. My Dad was most moved by the Checkpoint Charlie museum, with the memories of the Cold War and the fight for freedom hitting home. For my Mom, the biggest thrill was probably seeing a Giant Panda at the zoo. She’s a huge fanatic for pandas (there are hundreds of stuffed Pandas in one room of the house), and we spent a lot of time looking at one of the Panda’s at Berlin’s zoo.
We went to Bremen to see the Freimarkt, but that turned out to be the least interesting part of the trip. Essentially, the Freimarkt is like the midway of any large American fair, with a lot more sausage, beer, and Döner Kebabs.
Fortunately, the Freimarkt brought along with it the Historischer Markt, a smaller gathering of more traditional food and crafts in the main town square (the Freimarkt was in a big parking lot on the other side of the train station). We really enjoyed the Historischer Markt, with the woodworking, metalworking, food, and mulled wine. Especially the mulled wine. We had lots of mulled wine. Especially with added Amaretto.
Other than that, we walked around the old city quite a bit. This was really nice for my parents, because they’d never been to Germany before, and Hamburg and Berlin don’t have much of the “cute half-timbered houses surrounding a brick Gothic church” feel that is so common in the rest of Germany.