Day 20: Prague, Czech Republic to Berlin, Germany via Dresden, Germany
Another day of driving and another day of sitting on the bus either napping, reading or just staring out of the window. I was reading the “The Wise Man’s Fear” by Patrick Rothfuss. We were well on our way to Dresden to visit the most famous landmark that was bombed during the World War II – Frauenkirche, which is also known as Church of our Lady. The building now mimics what it was before the bomb hit the building.
After visiting the Church of our Lady, we had an hour of free time to get lunch and explore Dresden. I had other plan, as I needed to go to the bank to exchange the ripped Euro notes for a new Euro notes. At the tram crossing, I saw Ampleman and ample-girl walking traffic girls. First time I ever saw this, as it is usually ampleman that is shown around the world. Wow! I felt surprised and proud to see an ample-girl.
I explored the Dresden and the town square was extracted for artifacts from the buildings that were bombed during World War II. Sorry I can’t elaborate further as the information is in Germany.
Once the free time was over, we were on our way to Berlin. Once we arrived in Berlin, we started the driving tour. We stopped at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park. Interesting and I am surprised that Germans hasn’t removed it after what has happened. It’s a good reminder.
We drove through Berlin to better understand the city itself. Eventually, we arrived at our hostel, which was not far from arts wall of Berlin Wall. We stayed at Plus Hostel Berlin. The room was small however we got our hot water shower!! Dinner was ok and eventually a quiet night.
Day 21: Berlin, Germany
Early start this morning as some of us has chosen to do Third Reich Walking tour which is a 3 hours walking tour starting from Palace of Republic and we made our way to Sinti and Roma Memorial. In each stone, the name of the concentration camp is engraved into it to show respect to Jews and non-Jews.
We then walked to Brandenburg Gate, which was built in 18th Century, as a gate to Berlin City. Then we made our way through a building, I cannot remember and the tour guide talked about one of the statue and I missed the information about this one.
After the talk about the statue, we walked to Soviet War Memorial Tiergarten for soldiers that were killed fighting the Germans.
We made our way to Jewish Memorial. This is a 19 square meter pillar-like concrete monuments to represent the people died during the holocaust.
Followed by walking to parliament house and eventually the Berlin Wall – the two walls that is still standing. We did stop at few places in between the main points like where the bunkhouse used to be, the women who entertains the soldiers, where Hilter’s family died and so forth. I zoned out toward the end because I was tired from lipreading and trying to concentrate on what the tour guide was saying with heavy accent.
Germany has a very interesting history especially with the building of Reich regime (2nd and 3rd) of over 100 years to establish Aryan population by means of eliminating people that does not match the Aryan criteria. Just wow.
After the walk, one of the Topdeck crew and I hit the shopping strip and to visit the Charlie Checkpoint. We had an interesting afternoon exploring Berlin.
Quiet night, as we have to get up early for a long drive to Amsterdam.
Day 22: Berlin Germany to Amsterdam, Netherlands
I wasn’t kidding when I said we had a long drive. Almost 10 hours on the road with a stopover at a Clog and Cheese Farm just outside of Amsterdam. Most of the time, I was reading on the bus.
With the stop over in at the Farm, it was short. We learnt how to make cheddar cheese and then watched the demo of how to make a wooden clog. Eventually, we made our way to Amsterdam, as we had to get ready for the Moulin Rogue Sex Show. We stayed at Hans Brinker Hotel (It is a cross between hostel and hotel). Nice and simple, and I would recommend staying at this place as it is in between East and West of Amsterdam.
We all got ready and we walked through Amsterdam learning the place before we went the red light town. To say the least, it is a very enthralling place and its not something that you normally see in other cities across the globe. We eventually arrived at the Moulin Rogue for our sex show.
I really have to say that, it is awkward and at the same time bizarre and interesting. I won’t elaborate further so you just have to get the full story out of me when you ask me.
Day 23: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Today we spend the day in Amsterdam. For most of us, we had a 1 and half hour bike ride through the western part of Amsterdam so we get to visit the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, where the icon of I amsterdam is demonstrated. Then we ride through the park, through the street exploring each other of the West Amsterdam and then eventually we arrived opposite of Anne Frank’s House, across the canal to view the Westerkerk that is next to Anne Frank’s House. We continued to ride until we were back to the bicycle hire shop which is opposite our hostel.
The rest of the day was our time until dinner on the Floating Boat, the Sea Palace (Chinese food) and a canal cruise afterward.
I chose to visit Anne Frank’s House for an a hour and half. I told the ticket-seller that I was Deaf and she told me to wait with the guy so the person would get the transcript for me. That was lovely service at Anne Frank’s House so I took my time to watch the video and read the transcript and wandered through the house.
What really impacted me at first was how small the rooms were for two families, I suddenly felt how Anne felt, being cooped up when she wants to get out on the street to ride the bike and breathe fresh air. The deportation section has me in tears as Anne gave up hope, as she didn’t know what happened to her own family. She died one month before the liberation. That really impacted me a lot.
After visiting Anne Frank’s house, I went window-shopping before heading back to hostel to get ready for dinner and cruise. Lovely dinner and yes I ate the chili that was in sweet and sour pork … wow. And the canal cruise was nice and cruisey, although I was quiet for the most of the night.
Day 24: Amsterdam, Netherlands to London, England via Brugge, Belgium
Today is another early start to head back to London … Yay, although we are stopping in Brugge, Belgium to have the opportunity to explore the old city and trial the Belgian chocolates. An interesting city and I didn’t really explore the city of it own history. I just went into the Belgian chocolate shops to have a look around and found a café to have lunch. I was feeling a bit sick with motion sickness, as I have forgotten to take my medication. Not good really.
Eventually we made our way to Calais to catch the ferry back to Dover and head back into London.
Experience on Topdeck Tour – Tuesday 14 January 2014
I was bus-lagged for two days … I caught up on my sleep and not feeling like I have to get up and get ready to get on the bus to the next location or to be on time for walking tour or whatever optional activities we were doing. At least this will prep me for any theatre tour I might do in the near future.
I wasn’t sure how I could explain my experience on Topdeck Tour until I spoke to someone today about sleeping together (not in that sense), eating together, being on bus together and doing the activities together … It felt like we were “family” for 24 days and toward the end of this trip, everyone’s patience was starting to wear thin because we were in each other’s hair for so long – we haven’t really had time away from each other. Some people were ready to get their dagger out and kill their “in-laws”. Thank goodness, we did not get to that point. Phew!
One thing I really have to say this, half of the people could not accept other people’s flaws nor did they have the respect for other people on the bus. Technically, no-one is perfect and people need to stop making themselves center of the attention and ignoring other people’s need. Again, at some point, I felt like we were on a school bus because some people were acting like children and getting their own way without realizing the effect it would have on other people.
Overall, I did really enjoy the Topdeck Tour and next time, I will take a shorter tour instead of 21 to 24 days tour, as that was too long. And with my fiancé!!
The countries that I would like to visit again in the future are: