The Family Letter Blog

Connecting Generations

Day Two in Berlin – Summer of 1914

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July 30, 1914

Woke at 9:30, feeling fine. Breakfast in our hotel – rolls, chocolate, butter and two kinds of preserves. You can guess by this time that we like chocolate. It is much better than we get at home, or else they know how to make it. Butter is a part of the menu just as much as bread, and breakfast is the only meal where you get it without paying extra. They don’t salt their butter and it is delicious. That is the regular breakfast, sometimes honey instead of jam, and after I got used to it, I liked it much. That morning we walked around town and looked at the stores which are one of the most attractive things about Germany. I can imagine a woman would not want to do anything but shop when she went abroad. Everything I can think of is now cheaper in Germany than it is here except fruit, post cards and chewing gum. At noon we saw them change the guard in front of the Emperor’s palace, a little exhibition of German soldiery which always attracts a crowd. Afterward there was a band concert by a military band, and I never heard a band play in such perfect time or tune. We took a few pictures around the palace, visited the Royal Stables, (which looks like a palace) where the Kaiser keeps his 300 horses and as many carriages and sleighs, and then went down to Bruce’s boarding house for dinner. There were two American girls, Misses Tillett from Texas, studying piano, Mr. Kramer from Cedar Falls, studying violin along with Bruce, Mr. Ferguson, a Yale PhD who was studying a few weeks in the University of Berlin, a young Englishman, two young Germans, and Frau Klein and her daughter, and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Frau Klein had a fine dinner and she kept the whole table in good humor with her pleasant way of talking. She speaks the most perfect German I have ever listened to, and it would be a great place to learn German, I should think, but Bruce says whenever there are two or three Americans together they can’t learn German rapidly, because they will talk English to each other.

After dinner Bruce and Kramer and we three took the suburban train for Potsdam, about 15 miles away, where the Emperors have had their residences since Frederick the Great. Frederick built Sans Souci – the original palace with the grounds around it, and it is still what he intended it to be, – a place where you can forget every care. I still think it is the most beautiful place of the kind I have seen. I don’t know how many miles the grounds extend but they are all kept in the most perfect condition; forests of these big trees and thick, velvety grass underneath, wonderful flower gardens, fountains, grape vines, fruit trees, etc. We took a dozen pictures but never have found the roll since. We three who had never been there, went through the old palace with its reminders of Frederick the Great and Voltaire, whom he admired so much that he invited him to come and live there, but they soon got enough of each other and couldn’t live together. Just as we were leaving we heard aeroplanes overhead, and five of them passed over on their daily trials. They seem to be farther advanced in flying that we are in the US, airships are much more common. The next day we saw a big Zeppelin flying over Berlin. We saw all of Potsdam, which takes most tourist a day, between four and seven. The way Bruce led us around from one place to another reminded me of Forrest. We had a lunch on the bank of the river Harvel while we were waiting for the boat to take us back to Berlin. Just about sunset it came along and I don’t think I ever enjoyed a ride as much as that one. The Harvel is the prettiest little river imaginable. That exaggeratedly green grass grew right down to the water’s edge, so you could hardly tell where it left off and the water began. All along the shores are pretty little forests, with a spire or tower rising out of them. Everything along the river was ideally beautiful, although there is quite a bit of commerce. Nearer to Berlin are the handsomest houses by far that I have ever seen; white stone or marble, half hidden by trees, with green velvety lawns sloping down to the river, and artistic little boat houses along the bank.

We reached Berlin about 10 p.m. rather cold and hungry, so we told Bruce and Kramer to take us to the best eating place they knew of. They led us to the largest and finest restaurant in Germany, if not the world. “Das Rheingold” which seats 4,000 people, has 450 servants and 150 waiters. It is not expensive but the cooking is the best in the city so Kramer said. The interior is divided into a number of large rooms, all mahogany walls, plush chairs etc. You felt as though you didn’t belong there unless you were dressed for the occasion, but we saw poorly dressed and working people come in as though they were perfectly at home. That is one of the beauties of Germany, – you don’t have to dress up to go anywhere. The well-dressed man is conspicuous in Berlin. We had a fine dinner, with as good beefsteak as I’ve ever tasted in America, for 75 cents apiece.

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Author: kakingsbury

I finally took the leap and started a blog in mid-March 2014. I currently maintain three blogs "All Things Kalen" "The Family Letter Blog" and "Trovando Famiglia." Trovando Famiglia is about my husband's family, particularly the original four Giorgio brothers who immigrated to western Pennsylvania from San Vito Chietino, Italy in the late 1800s. The Giorgio boys and their descendants have been the focus of my genealogical research over the past two years. The blog allows me to share family stories and photographs. Thanks for checking me out!

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