Sans Souci - or Sans Souris?
Our plans today were to take the S Bahn out to Potsdam and to explore some of the parkland and maybe a palace. On the recommendation of the hotel staff, Sans Souci seemed to be a good focus for the day and so with that in mind, we headed out after breakfast.
We bought our day tickets for the train, finding ourselves being classed as a "small group" and made our way to the platform.
Our journey involved a change of train, but it was easy and we were soon in Potsdam, ready to roll on to the park in search of....well, who knew?
I did my usual thing of stopping by the information office, just to check if there was anything we should know before going further, like checking the palaces are actually open today. Mary took the opportunity to find the other facilities in the station whilst the men hung around outside the snack bar waiting for us. But when I emerged from the tourist office, I found two rather excited husbands and a giggling snack bar hostess! It seems as though whilst I was in the tourist office, a mouse had jumped out of the snack bar's rubbish bin, ran about a bit in between my hero's feet before scuttling across to the fruit shop across the way and disappearing behind a pile of vegetables. The snack bar lady was all of a flutter, giggling and looking alarmed at the suggestion that the rest of the mouse family would surely follow. Having recounted the tale to Mary and I, checked that there was no sign of the creature in the fruit shop (where a young woman wearing a pair of blue latex gloves was standing waiting for the thing to emerge, as if it would do such a thing on demand!) we continued onwards towards the palace. Sans Souris - we hoped.
It was a lengthy walk, past a building with the sign "Ce n'est pas une palace" on the front and along urban streets with cycle paths, on which we dare not tread, for fear of being run over by a speedy cyclist on a mission.
Along the way were some interesting structures, but we had imagined walking in parkland by now.
and this was most certainly nothing of the sort.
We turned into a rather elegant street, with large homes on either side, where I noted the distinctly German font used for the number 9. Isn't it interesting how the smallest of detail conveys so much?
Passing a house with pumpkins for sale, the atmosphere was turning a little greener and we were hopeful that we were nearly there - wherever "there" may be.
Well, at least two of us knew vaguely where we were.
There were further clues nearby as well, thankfully.
For at last, we were in the park. Hooray! Now, which path to take?
It would have been a tricky decision had we not spotted a little gem amongst the trees.
The Chinese Pavilion was there amongst the trees and clearly, we needed to see it up close.
Honestly, I'm patient when it comes to taking photographs and seeing the woman in the red anorak, I decided I didn't want her in my photo. I waited as she posed for her husband to take a photo or ten, by which time the sun had come out again and was right behind the pavilion making a decent photograph impossible, Huh. Oh well, it was a lovely building....just try to blot out the distraction of the red coat, please.
The park was lovely, with suprises at the end of every avenue. We enjoyed wandering about, with the vague aim of reaching San Souci at some point.
We reached various important looking buildings, but none of them were the one we were looking for.
Very lovely, but no, not what we are looking for!
Aha! Here we are. The grandest of approaches with tiers of little glazed compartments with a fig tree in every one.
The planting was spectacular and we especially liked the clumps of Cavolo Nero cabbage there amongst the flowers. As my hero's mind undoubtedly strayed to thoughts of ribollita soup, we climbed up to the front of the building.
Here we were at last!
There are only a few rooms open for viewing and thinking it was a must-do having got this far, we bought our tickets.
Timed tickets, to manage the visitor numbers, it seemed. At the appointed time, we stood in the queue to get in and wondered just how many people were scheduled for that five minute slot? It seemed rather a large number!
And so it was. Actually it was a way too large a number of people to see much for any length of time. Most were using headset audio guides, meaning they were oblivious to anything or anyonearound them. It wasn't easy. I purchased a photo permit and took some photos which I'll probably post at a later date. Suffice to say, it was a grand place but would have been better without the crowd!
By this time, we were feeling a little peckish, so taking a quick look at the small "Brandenburg Gate" here, we headed into a bakery for coffee and cake.
From there, it was a slightly autumnal walk back to the station, where a slight disruption to services meant we took a rather different route back.
Depending on whose step counter you use, rather more or somewhat less than 20k steps after we'd set out this morning, we were back in Potsdamer Platz.
My feet were telling me that it was definitely more than 20k. I believed them.