2011_germany48 We drove to Berlin to tour for a few days and ate lunch at this rest stop.

2011_germany49 We stayed in this town with old row houses and cobblestone streets.

2011_germany50 Some buildings seemed to be in disrepair on the outside. Others were fixed up.

2011_germany51 But at night, even the old buildings had a romantic look in the yellow streetlamp light.

2011_germany52 After the Berlin wall fell, there was so much effort to obliterate it that not much of it was preserved for future generations. The brass plate on the ground marks the path of the wall.

2011_germany53 And all through the city, a double line of cobblestones marks the wall's path. The wall split the heart of the city.

2011_germany54 The German parliament building was in the Western side.

2011_germany55 The famous Brandenburg gate was on the East side in a prohibited strip of no-man's land. They would shoot you on sight. However, this day, we enjoyed the evening in its plaza: children were making bubbles, musicians were playing, people were sitting on benches around the periphery.

2011_germany56 Nearby is the memorial for the European Jews that died in WWII. You can disappear in the maze of stone columns that can tower over you. However, you can't hide, and the outside can seem distant.

2011_germany57 Checkpoint Charlie was an important interface between the American and Russian controlled sectors of the city.

2011_germany58 We had real Italian pizza the end of the first day.

2011_germany59 Next morning, we had coffee at a local cafe before taking the train into Berlin.

2011_germany60 A good train, a pleasant ride through the countryside.

2011_germany61 We passed through the largest train station in Berlin. It is larger than some airports.

2011_germany62 The updated Olympic stadium where Jesse Owens won a gold medal in 1936 to the frustration of some German leaders.

2011_germany63 The east Germans demolished Berlin castles in their territory, but this is the Charlotteburg castle that was on the western side.

2011_germany64 It had beautiful gardens.

2011_germany65 We got around via the excellent public transport.

2011_germany66 The east German apartment blocks were distinctively boring.

2011_germany67 Utilitarian architecture. The green paint was added for visual interest after the wall came down.

2011_germany68 We visited the GDR prison of the secret police. They were very effective in breaking people down there.

2011_germany69 It was a blank spot on maps. People in that area of the city didn't even know it existed.

2011_germany70 Back to the parliament building for a tour of the dome. Inscription: "For the German People".

2011_germany71 The previous dome was destroyed in war. This one improves on it.

2011_germany72 It has a spiral ramp that affords a good view of the city.

2011_germany73 And is a sky-light for the parliamentary chambers below.

2011_germany74 Berlin on a manhole cover! (No, the Seattle Space Needle wasn't imported to Berlin! The smooth round concrete tower here with a ball near the top was built by the east Germans for TV broadcasting.)

2011_germany75 Next day on our way home, we drove through Leipzig.

2011_germany76 We stopped to tour the Buchenwald concentration camp. The crematorium. It is hard to see the evidence of such suffering caused by humans, but we must remember so as to learn.

2011_germany77 Nobody escaped until the camp was liberated.

2011_germany78 In the north there were many wind turbines. And there were poppy flowers in some fields.

2011_germany79 The country was more hilly in the north, but always there were fields of (mostly) grain or corn, separated by tree lines. And usually the hill tops were wooded. Very beautiful.

2011_germany80 Near Agnes' place is the BASF plant: a city-sized chemical factory.