We've had family here for the last three weeks so we've been showing them around Germany, doing a few festivals and just having a lot of great fun. So I haven't had much time for blogging. I'll get to all the highlights but for now I wanted to show you the awesome weekend we had in Berlin to watch Kelly run in the marathon.
Friday, 28 September 2012
It's a six hour drive from our place to Berlin. As you enter the city there's still a few relics of the Cold War when Berlin was divided into East and West, Communist and Free World. Here's one of them Check Point Bravo. Most people have heard of Check Point Charlie, the entry/exit point between East and West Berlin. During the Cold War there was just one road that allowed people to drive from West Germany to West Berlin. That old autobahn began in the West Germany town of Helmstedt where Check Point Alpha was located. After checking in with the US Army SP's and getting your book of instructions, in the event your car broke down enroute, you could drive into East Germany. The drive took you through two Russian check points before coming the Check Point Bravo where you once again checked in with US Army SP's and turned over your instruction book. Then you'd drove into West Berlin.
Well, today the trip to Berlin is much more leisurely and less stressful and once in the city we checked into our hotel and took the U-Bahn to Templehof airfield where Kelly would check in for the marathon and get her bib number for the race. And so, here's Kelly at Templehof.
An interesting map of the Berlin marathon with what Adidas, one of the big sponsors of the race, says are the five stages of a marathon race.
Templehof was an airfield that was built by the Nazi's prior to WW II to be their huge, showcase air base in Berlin.
Once completed, which it never was, Templehof, from the air, was to have the look of a large eagle with huge spread wings. Here's the arc of the huge hangers which was to be the top of the eagle's swept wings. Templehof was also the destination for the American cargo pilots that flew in supplies for the city of Berlin during the Berlin airlift.
Here's a strange, old jet airline with these lollipop kind of engines. The jet engines are placed on pylons that come straight out of the top of the wings. Jeff didn't know what it was and he wasn't sure if it was in flying condition or not.
The Berlin Airlift Memorial at Templehof. It faces to the west and is an exact replica of a memorial that is at the former Rhein-Main air base, now Frankfurt International, which faces to the east. Together the two memorials symbolize a completed air bridge that saved the city of Berlin.
Marathon business done we went for some Berlin sightseeing. The is the East Side Gallery. It's a third of a mile of the original Berlin wall. Various artists from around the world were invited to paint sections of the wall. Below are some of those parts of the wall.
136 people lost their lives while trying to escape East Berlin between the time the wall was first put up in 1961 until it fell in 1989.
Our last stop of the day was Zur Letzten Instanz, the oldest gasthaus in Berlin, established in 1621. Napoleon ate here while passing through Berlin as did Mikhail Gorbachev during one of his visits.
Kelly and I at the table where all special guests sit when visiting Zur Letzten Instanz.
Jeff and Kelly. The porcelain seat where Kelly is sitting is an old room heating apparatus that was very comon in Germany not all that long ago. See the little Napoleon above them.
The Stammtisch (local's table) sign for our table.
Oh my mistake, not our last stop of the day. When we got off the U-Bahn there was the KaDeWe, Berlin's equivalent of London's Harrod's department store. Kelly and I voted yes, so in spite of Jeff's no vote, we did some evening shopping.
Saturday, 29 September 2012
On Saturday we filled the day with more Berlin sightseeing. Behind us is the Brandenburg gate. At our feet is a line of double bricks which shows were the Berlin Wall separated the city.
Kelly in front of the Brandenburg Gate which she will run through just a short distance from the finish line at the end of the Berlin Marathon the next day.
The Reichstag with its new glass dome.
Kelly getting psyched for the next day.
Berlin's rather strange Holocaust Memorial.
An interesting culmination of sites in Berlin. Over the top of the Holocaust Memorial you can see the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate and the American flag over the US Embassy.
The site of the former SS and Gestapo headquarters in Berlin. An outdoor museum called the Topography of Terror.
The site of Check Point Charlie with a McDonald's in the background. Quite an amazing change since 1989.
These next two images were taken from an outdoor museum next to Check Point Charlie. This is the East German side of Check Point Charlie in 1989.
Check Point Charlie on the morning of 13 August 1961. Russian tanks facing American tanks.
Trabant cars coming down the street. These cheap little cars with the notorious blue exhaust were built in East Germany. You can rent these and follow a lead Trabant around the city for an different sort of tour.
An interesting potato soup complete with weiner.
Here we're at what will be the half way point the next day during the marathon. We're there to see how Kelly can find us in the crowd as she runs by. These multiple, colored satellite dishes should help Kelly see that she's coming up to where we'll be.
Sunday, 30 September 2012
It's Sunday morning, 30 September 2012, 41°, no wind, about 0730 for a 0900 race start time, just leaving the hotel for a walk to the start line area. Kelly has on her new Addidas, BMW Berlin Marathon shirt.
We're walking down Straße des 17. Juni, named after a peoples uprising that took place 17 June 1953 against the government of East Germany and put down by Russian forces. Here the German Victory Column is silhouetted by the rising sun along with the Berlin TV tower. The start/finish line for the marathon is just a quarter mile beyond the column, to the east.
The Victory Column with the sun to our back. This column was built to commemorate the Prussian victory over Denmark in 1864. By the time the column was completed in 1873 Prussia had also defeated Austria and France and, for the first time, all of Germany was united as one single country.
The statue Victoria at the top of the column.
OK, back to the race. It's 0830 and Kelly is near the start line and entering an area for runners only. So we say goodbye and good luck. See you in about four hours. We're going to get a spot just west of the Victory Column where Kelly will pass just after the start of the marathon.
Lots of Danish fans getting ready to cheer on their friends.
The balloon runners. If you want to run a 3:30 marathon then run with the person attached to the 3:30 balloon.
First starters in the Berlin marathon were the disabled wheel chair racers.
Next came the elite, world class runners.
At 0910 Kelly ran by and we all yelled at each other. This is the best picture we could get. Kelly in the circle.
After a bit of a walk and an underground ride followed by another short walk we're at the halfway point for the race. The day prior we figured Kelly would run by at around 1050. At 1048 there she suddenly was running out of the pack of runners right at us on the side of the street. After handing off her long sleeve shirt and a quick kiss for Jeff she's off again. This video is quick but all we could get as Kelly continued on. She's the first runner in black top and shorts on the right of the video.
Now Jeff and I are back near the Brandenburg Gate watching some of the top runners finish. The winners have finished even much earlier than these runners. The Brandenburg Gate was built from 1788-1791 as a sign of peace by the Prussian king Frederick Wilhelm II. It was a gate to the city which led directly to the city palace of the Prussian kings. It was heavily damaged in WW II and during the era of the Berlin Wall it was completely isolated standing within the no-man's land between East and West Berlin.
The finish line from near the Brandenburg Gate.
A huge TV near the Brandenburg Gate shows the top women finishers. The top two women were from Ethopia.
We're watching the runners come through the Brandenburg Gate. From here they're only a couple hundred meters from the finish.
There's Kelly. We're so excited!!! There can't be a better finish to any marathon than runner through the Brandenburg Gate.
A very proud dad and Kelly after the race. Kelly said that was the best beer she'd ever had.
Later that day at a German gasthaus/biergarten, Prater, we celebrated the race and Kelly's great finishing time of 3:26. Perfect time for a little Moet Chandon champagne.
Well, it was wonderful to be there and watch Kelly in the Berlin Marathon. We're so proud of her!! A fantastic experience, in an amazing city.