Last time we were in Berlin, Ale recommended Sanssouci, the former palace of Frederick the Great. However, it was winter and we got there just as the heavens opened, and ended up taking refuge in a nearby cafe.
This time was the polar opposite. Berlin had already blessed us with soaring temperatures and today was easily 35° or more. The park was full of people although it’s absolutely huge so it still felt very spacious and relaxed.
We set off quite early, after another spectacular German breakfast full of breads, pretzels, fruit and yogurt – how I miss it now!
Sanssouci is located in Potsdam, just outside Berlin. It’s generally considered Germany’s rival to Versailles which I had the pleasure of visiting back in 2011. It wasn’t just a rival to Versailles, it seemed to me like a carbon copy, that is until you look closer and find the German quirks amidst the Rococo French architecture and flower gardens.
We strolled through the area by the palace and down towards the terraced gardens. Vines from Portugal, France and Italy were brought to the palace on the order of Frederick and, until this day, the palace produces wine. Apparently the wine is “not bad” which can be expected from a Northern European vineyard…
I was actually impressed by this use of space, it’s not something I’ve seen before. However, upon reading, Frederick was apparently quite stubborn about his ideas and ignored the architect, Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, by placing the main floor of the palace on the ground floor which means the views from the window are limited by the terraces and appears as an orangery rather than a palace when viewed from the bottom.
This is us at the bottom of the steps, seems I was in full-blown lecture mode already!
I found it quite surreal to wander through the gardens and had to remind myself that I was still in Germany. Although it’s always relaxing to wander around such places, I always find myself a bit overwhelmed by the history which Germany already has an abundance of. Plus the whole concept of a palace, especially when considering the hierarchies and economical differences of the nobles and everyday people back in the 18th century. The sheer scale of it seems extreme today, let alone 300 years ago!
I loved the flowerbeds, and the fact they looked wild rather than uniform.
The gardens were endless with all sorts of nooks to discover/ get lost in. These kind of maze-like gardens always remind me of The Secret Garden!
Eager to get out of the heat, we made our way to the Bildergalerie im Park Sanssouci, also known as the Picture Gallery. Although small, the gallery had an abundance of paintings, most notably by Rubens, and a audio guide available for the main paintings in the collection. The guide takes about 40 minutes so expect to be in there for about an hour if you’re interested in art history.
Photos weren’t allowed but I sneaked some anyway!
We relaxed then for a while in the park (not on the grass, that’s forbidden) before slowly heading back to the car. It felt like we’d spent hours walking and we barely saw even a quarter of the park, you could really take a day or even a week to really get lost there!
On the way we found the Chinesisches Haus but didn’t go inside. The outside was pretty breathtaking on it’s own.
A Mövenpick pistachio icecream for the road and we were off, but first a quick drive through Potsdam.
I expected a much smaller place, although was surprised to see that Potsdam also had an abundance of cafes and restaurants. Ale explained to us that Potsdam is popular amongst richer people who work in Berlin, who travel from Potsdam each day. Not that Berlin is so stressful, but to be surrounded by even more nature and with a smaller community is always nice.
Of course I appreciate the buildings and seeing the streets of Potsdam, but what struck me the most was Glienicke Bridge which was used by the Americans and Soviets to exchange captured spies during the Cold War.
We got back to Berlin and soon went out with a large group on the prowl for what was apparently a really good Greek restaurant. Turns out it was closed, so we made our way to another one, which was also closed. We couldn’t work out if it was because of a religious holiday or if Merkel is really upsetting Greece that much. We ended up at a place called Promo where we sat inside because it was so busy (it’s advisable to always book in advance in Berlin, especially on weekends) but all suitably hungry by this point.
Ewa recommended Flammkuchen (tarte flambée) and some salad to share between me and Shota and it was huge. I couldn’t finish it, and I never leave food! I always underestimate German portions, not that I’m complaining. Washed down with Weinschorle which is basically a spritzer.
Stuffed and exhausted, we headed home to get an early(ish) night. The rest of the group went out salsa dancing I believe but we were preparing to leave for Poland the following day so wanted to get as much sleep as possible!
Stay tuned for our first day in Poland!