We arrived in Germany on Friday, September 1st and spent our evening at Mike’s Aunt and Uncles’ house celebrating our arrival with dinner and wine. Mike’s Aunt Raja made dinner, a German dish called Schmorgurken Hackfleisch Pfanne/ German Cucumber Ground Beef Stir Fry. The dish is made with large cucumbers that we don’t have in the United States, mixed with ground beef, creme fraiche, and fresh dill.
She served it with mashed potatoes and it was a wonderful meal for our first night. We stayed up pretty late considering we hadn’t slept on the plane .
On Saturday morning we got up, put on our running clothes and found a short 3-mile run around the neighborhood. We were so amazed at the beauty of the two parks we ran through considering we were in the middle of Berlin.
After the run we were ready to head to the Farmer’s Market in Berlin. We were on a quest for some cheese, eggs and a little produce for a salad. Plus Mike’s Aunt wanted to go to the butcher to pick up some fresh veal for dinner. We got to the market pretty late but there was still plenty of things available. Mike even picked up a few avocados, because we miss them so much when we don’t have them.
That evening we spent catching up and enjoying another home cooked meal. We had Veal Saltimbocca from the meat Mike’s aunt picked up fresh at the market. We stayed up late waiting to ring in Mike’s 60th birthday at midnight, so we could toast Mike with a glass of Champagne.
Sunday morning we didn’t get up particularly early for a run because it was Mike’s official 60th birthday and everyone one deserves a day of rest on their birthday. Instead we enjoyed a German breakfast which consists of brotchen, a traditional breakfast bread, with cold cuts and cheese and a soft-boiled egg.
After breakfast we left by car to Worlitz for what we were told was Mike’s birthday surprise, providing everything went as planned. The Autobahn had a bad accident causing the entire freeway to close and sent us off onto side roads to get to our destination. Unfortunately we also got stopped on one of the side roads because of construction. How is it we’re in Germany but it somehow feels a bit like Southern California?
All of it was worth it once we arrived in the charming little German town of Worlitz. The park has a history of over 1,000 years and is used as a vacation resort for recreation and education. The park is beautifully planned with views of a small lake and several lovely buildings. We soon learned that the Mike’s birthday surprise was dependent on the weather. Thankfully even though the day was filled with cloudy skies it never opened up to rain, which meant the surprise Gondola Dinner Boat Ride on the lake would go on as planned. We boarded a gondola with eight other people and enjoyed antipasti followed by a nice chicken dinner and dessert. The wine flowed for the entire ride and our tour guide explained the history of the the park. Unfortunately it was completely in German, so I have no idea what he said, but the wine was good.
The rain started just as we ended our boat ride so we opened our umbrellas to protect us from downpour but it in no way took a thing away from the amazing night.
Monday we had planned to wake up early and go for a run but we just couldn’t get ourselves up early enough to make that happen. Instead we enjoyed breakfast together and headed out for a walking tour of the park and the buildings. We soon discovered that everything is closed on Monday in Worlitz, so none of the buildings were available for tours. To be honest it was no problem for me because I’m not a big fan of tours plus I wouldn’t be able to understand the tour guide anyway. So instead we walked through the entire park and just enjoyed the beautiful views and the ancient architecture.
After walking all day we stopped and enjoyed some snacks and drinks. My stomach wasn’t feeling well since eating far too much bread for the last several days. All I really wanted was a salad. I ordered one with some smoked trout that we watched being prepared from the deck of the restaurant. It was the best decision possible, seriously one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten in my life.
We enjoyed dinner later that evening at a restaurant that was opened on Monday, it was good but honestly it would have been difficult for that dinner to be better then that Smoked Trout Salad. I could eat that everyday.
Tuesday morning Mike and I set our sights on getting up early enough to get in that run around the lake. We wanted to run between 6 to 8 miles, we planned to run around the outermost path of the park. We weren’t sure how far it was or how many times around the park it would take, but we were totally up for the adventure. It was quite cold in the morning, no more then 50 degrees which makes for the best run. We both felt great and we got to see beautiful scenery, incredibly different then when we run at home. It took two trips around the park and we ended up getting in 7 miles. Perfect start to the day. Nothing makes me feel better then exercise in the morning, it’s like all the food and drink for the rest of the day doesn’t count.
Our first stop after breakfast was to climb to the top of the cathedral in Worlitz for a 360 degree view of the city. It was around 160 steps to the top and it was worth every step, even after running 7 miles.
The interesting part about Worlitz is from the street the homes are nothing special to look at, just big stone buildings built right up to the street and they look a bit institional. However from atop the cathedral you could see what lies behind all those walls, beautiful courtyards filled with lush lawns and gardens.
Next we thought of going into the museum but once again luck was on my side as the next tour wasn’t for another two hours. Plus everyone sort of realized it would not be very interesting to me because it would be in German and they would have to translate the entire time. So instead we decided to leave Worlitz for the town of Wittenberg. Wittenberg is the city in which Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the cathedral, challenging the tenants of Catholicism and angering the pope. It was from this action that the Reformation occurred and the Lutheran Church eventually became a religion.
We ended our travels for the day with a glass of dry German white wine on the banks of the Elbe.
Tomorrow we get up and head to the train station for the net part of our trip. Four nights in Steinhude a Meer to visit Mike’s life -long friend, Volker.