Normally, vacation photographs only have significance to those who were part of the holiday. Indeed, I am sensitive to the fact that most of us don't want to endure looking at scads of vacation pictures taken by others. Why, it's almost as painful as watching badly edited (or even unedited) video of someone's wedding reception, my own included!
Along these lines, I have a particular memory from 1979 or '80, when my Great Uncle Charlie, a surgeon, who was usually very interesting company, brought over literally HUNDREDS of slides from a trip he and my Great Aunt Lillian took to Iceland and Spitsbergen in 1979. Needless to say, by the twentieth photo taken through a dirty porthole of the jetliner flying them into Reykjavik, insomnia was no longer a problem for anyone in the room.
About the only thing that saved the situation from being completely dull was when Uncle Charlie accidentally dropped two slide carousels onto the floor upside down, spilling more than 200 carefully arranged slides into a heap at his feet. Despite dirty looks from my mother and grandmother, this was extremely funny to my twelve-year-old self, and I seem to recall being asked to excuse myself from the room for a few minutes. But I digress!
Let's move onto the three photos in question then, shall we? The first image above is of The Grand Duchess naturally. She stands before a display on the ground floor of Berlin's Ka De Ve department store in Berlin (one of the city's premier shopping places for many, many years). Appropriately enough, the mannequin wears a tri-cornered hat, which I spotted and then asked Sonja to strike a fitting pose next to the display.
The Ka De Ve department store has a long, checkered history and features a truly amazing food floor where just about any sort of German meat, cheese, poultry, etc. specialty is available as well as a variety of German and imported canned/jarred foodstuffs. The top floor of the store features a lovely and huge dining area where a very nice lunch can be enjoyed while overlooking part of Berlin. The Grand Duchess tells me that it is a tradition among many Berliners to meet there for a meal occasionally, and she was good enough to treat me to a late lunch on the particular day we dropped by the Ka De Ve.
The second photo was taken on the Grosse Freiheit, just off the notorious Reeperbahn in Hamburg. Here's yours truly standing outside the Indra Club where the young Beatles had their first German residency in the fall of 1960. Amazingly, the club remains open and still features live music almost fifty years on. The Grosse Freiheit (Great Freedom) is a pretty sleazy area, featuring strip clubs and various cruddy bars and clubs in much the same vein as the Reeperbahn just around the corner. Interestingly, the street is almost a ghost town by day, with few people in sight. Needless to say, it's a quite different scene after dark, or so I have read.
Anyway, since my amateur rock & roll group takes its name from this particular club, I could hardly pass up the chance to get off the train for a couple of hours in Hamburg and head over to the rough St. Pauli section of the city for this Kodak moment. The Grand Duchess was a real trooper and accompanied me without complaint. Incidentally, she used to dance occasionally with her German and American college friends at the Kaiserkeller (also a place where the Beatles once played just a few doors away to the right in this photo), when she was an undergraduate on a year-long exchange program twenty years ago.
Finally, here is a still jet-lagged me, just inside the old Spandau Citadel, on the northwestern outskirts of Berlin. Our German friend Anita took us there during the second day of my visit. The Spandau section of the city has a number of well-preserved old houses and buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries as well as the wonderfully maintained Vauban-style fortress that dates from the 1600s (I believe) . The citadel is home to a couple of very nice restaurants now days and also hosts various musical and cultural events within its massive walls. If I understood Anita correctly, the Texas blues-rock trio ZZ Top played there just a few days before my arrival.
These then are just a few of the photographs from our recent stay in Germany. In a day or two, I hope to have a photo update or two of those final twenty RSM fusiliers since I'm beginning to get that familiar painting itch again. You know, the one in the middle of your back that's hard to reach, but you just have to scratch it somehow. And then some more photos of those newly acquired Holger Eriksson and Garrison figures will follow too. Stay tuned!