This was going to be a long day. We were hoping to get out at an early enough hour since we had a loooooong ride ahead of us, but we had run out of time the day before to check out the East Side Gallery and Tempelhof park, so we decided to add this to our itinerary before we left the city.
Check out took a little longer than anticipated since Justin had to run off and switch our rental cars. Turns out the rental company insurance for a Belgian car isn’t applicable in Poland so the company had us set up to do a quick switcheroo in Berlin for a German car. Should’ve been straight forward since Justin’s already in the system and it’s just a “here are the old keys” and “here are the new keys, see ya!” But apparently the whole place was under construction and it took a little bit longer than 5 minutes. We still managed to get up and out and check out the Tempelhof Park first though. It actually all worked out pretty well with timing to get Munchkin to sleep on the road.
Tempelhof is an old abandoned airport that was turned into a park.
It’s always busy with bikers/roller blades/people walking/runners down the runway, picnics on benches all along the runway or the taxing lanes, and there were even a few ancient looking fairs set up throughout the ground.
We got out to check it out, but between it being super hot, us getting hungry, and Justin getting the footage he wanted with his drone (until he saw some people come out of the airport with guns and got spooked - we’re guessing the park is still active military exercise grounds in part), we decided it was time to go.
We got some cute fam jam photos, stuck our noses through the fence to check out the closed up mini put golf gallery that literally looked like it was made out of junk, but in a super grungy cool kind of way, and we made our way back to the car.
We did note, that as per the the tour guide yesterday, you could indeed see the TV tower from everywhere. We were 15-20 minute south of the city and could still see it in full view.
We found prime real estate parking spot right beside the East Side Gallery. It’s the remnants of the Berlin Wall on the Eastern border of the city that was turned into a gallery. It looked like even sections of the wall were given to various artists to decorate as they please. Some were pure abstract, others were just cool art, while there was no mistaking that others had war significance such as illustrating oppression or freedom. At least that was our interpretation.
We grabbed some food on our way out and proceeded to hit stand-still traffic on the way out of the city for a good 2 hours. The only stop we made en route to Gdansk was in a "little town" on the Polish side (aka, one of the largest cities and hubs in Poland as I later found out). We actually routed here knowing it’ll be a bit of a detour, but with the construction traffic jam, by the time we got here, we didn’t have much time to check out the beautiful city, but we saw a sign for a cemetery. I don’t know what prompted us to look up the cemetery but the Szczecin Central Cemetery is actually the largest one in Poland and the third largest in all of Europe with various memorials, sections, and monuments. So in we went. This cemetery is actually considered a giant park and has plaques about the local animals and the wide variety of trees and bushes you can locate within the vicinity. So well maintained and immaculate, too!
This place was giant and way too many hectares for us to cover in 15-20 minutes, but we did stumble upon a few memorials, including WW2, a memorial a sunken ship/navy, and to those who were sent to Siberia (gypsies, Jews, etc) even pre war.
We got back in the car, some of us slightly less happy than others, and made the rest of the trek to Gdansk. We got in around 10pm, and after getting the Munchkin down (which was no easy feat since upon waking up on our arrival, she got wired and zoomed around the apartment at full speed making it nearly impossible to catch her), I was then beyond done. The rest of the gang went downstairs to this amazing bar in our building (we were right on the border of old Town so there was an amazing vibe going on and the streets were alive). This bar was so good, that I was dragged back there the following night, but that’s for another post.