Autobiography Dieter Rolf Fischer Book 6 ALL IN HIS HAND I Archive: Book 1 I Book 2 I Book 3 I Book 4 I Book 5 I Index Copyright 2002 - 2007 I Text and Photography by Dieter Rolf Fischer, unless indicated I Above photos: Telstra
7. Top Tour Berlin
The nearby town of Ahrensburg was supposed to be the location for one of the prettiest castles in Northern Germany. Early on Tuesday 24/4/07 I borrowed my host Christa's bicycle to have a look at the place, across the state border in Schleswig-Holstein. The whole district, only 20 kilometres from the centre of Hamburg, was refreshingly green, with a touch of country. I pedalled briskly in the morning air.
Cycling beside the B 75 (B stands for Bundesstrasse, Federal Road) for the final few kilometres, I soon reached the outskirts of Ahrensburg. I could have cycled a far greater distance that morning, but decided to look around this pretty town first. I am glad I did.
Many cycle tracks in Europe's cities and towns run on the footpath, beside pedestrian traffic. While cycling one can almost do window shopping, if one pedals slowly enough. I didn't move really slowly, but still caught something of interest.
Outside a bargain shop, I noticed a display stand, where everything cost Euro 1. On sale were socks, which for German price levels, was a bargain. I stopped pedalling to have a closer look. Right on the bottom hook, to prevent socks from sliding, I assumed, I noticed two clothes pegs, an orange and a red one. Next my eyes spotted a pair of brown socks, very interesting brown socks. They were worth my tourist dollar, sorry tourist Euro.
Socks No. 51.
The range of socks in the store was not bad, but I did not find any socks No. 19, 24, 35, 44... Then again, how many digital socks does a man need, before his lust for numbers is satisfied? (Just kidding).
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The castle of Ahrensburg, a simple, but beautiful white structure, with a red roof is surrounded by a moat and large green open spaces. It dates back to 1595 and is used mainly as a museum. I took a photo from the bridge, leading to the main entrance over the moat. To take in the atmosphere, I cycled around the castle twice, totally enjoying the experience.
My next point of inspection was the nearby Evangelical Lutheran Church, also built in 1595. The door was open for a brief look inside. On a shelf just inside was a wire brush. It was silly, but I noticed it was pointing exactly toward the board*...
(*My memory is a little vague here. It may have been, that I pointed the wire brush, to point to the numbers on the board).
... where the songs to be sung for the church service were displayed. The numbers displayed, according to my diary were No. 100, 5 1-3. Is there any mention of a wire brush in the bible? If so, what is it symbolic for?
Aha, as I write, the answer comes. I continued outside, walking around the church grounds to notice two, no three interesting things: The small number of bench-seats had been freshly painted in the colour green. (Had I not reported seeing freshly painted green tables and chairs in Newcastle, during the holiday with my son, only months earlier?) Was that the reason for the wire brush. (I do that too, just drop tools, after I'd used them - but in the entrance hall of the church?)
The other find was a plaque around the back of the church. Written in stone was the scripture in Romans 5, Verse 1: "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ". (Now I understand, why the socks just displayed the number 51. The whole verse would never fit onto a pair of socks).
A third find I was taken in by was a price label 3,-E, approx. half the size of a postage stamp. I had found it by a green painted bench and kept it for my diary.
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Ahrensburg Castle built 1595, looking toward the town centre.
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I had hoped to cycle back to Volksdorf a different way. To find a route I stopped on the corner Grosse Strasse / Wohlenhorn Strasse to search out the Tourist Information Map. But the map confused me. Reading a street name (Wohlenhorn Strasse) nearby, I could not verify my location on the map as the spot which read: "Sie sind hier (You Are Here).
If I were standing on the spot marked on the map 'You are here', the Rathaus would be in the same direction as the Castle. But I knew, having just come from the castle, the Rathaus was to the south, in the opposite direction. I queried it with a lady passing by, who also seemed confused.
So what does one, who wants to right all the wrongs in the world do, after discovering such a blunder? He cycles to the local Rathaus, finds out who is responsible and tells them to fix it. That's what I did.
To find the Rathaus was easy. After entering the modern building, who would I need to see, who would be responsible to report this calamity? It may cause many tourists to become disoriented or even lost, if the mistake was not corrected.
There was no receptionist, only a large noticeboard in the modern foyer. I found out who best to approach, the Strassenverkehrsschilderoberamtsdirection, Map Dept. for short.
The noticeboard directed me to the third floor. As soon as I exited the lift, I looked and thought code 316 was looking at me. The department occupied the rooms 301-306. I must have looked a site, having just gotten off my bicycle, hair everywhere and sweat running down my red face. I walked into the first room, because the door stood wide open.
After briefly outlining my thoughts the gentleman told me to see the administration clerk, Mrs. J.N. in Room 302. Her name sounded very much like Nelson. After knocking on her door, waiting for the 'come-in' I could almost hear a voice say: "Thank God you're here!" In a way I felt like one of the actors in these TV shows, entering through an unknown door, and bluffing your way through for the next few minutes.
Mrs. J.N. seemed a little nervous, taking notes as I, quiet seriously, reported the mistake on their tourist map. I had the distinct feeling, I had been expected. I was there. If she thanked God, I don't know.
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Below: Wedel is a suburb upstream from Hamburg by the Elbe River. The ordinary Postcode is 22880.
Aussie tourist's code is 55,500,50. Adding the e (5th letter x2) add 10.
My friend Christa, her husband unfortunately had real work to do, took me on an excursion to this place, called the Willkomm Hoeft, beside the Elbe River, upstream from Hamburg.
This tourist attraction, besides functioning as a Cafe, welcomes ships, greater than 500 tons, to the port of Hamburg. A loudspeaker plays the country's national anthem and gives a few words of welcome in the language of the flag it is flying.
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Later that day, after saying my good-bys and thank you to my host, I was taking a stroll around central Hamburg. I had a few minutes spare, prior to departing on the ICE fast train to Berlin. But for the suitcase, I would have taken the challenge to briskly walk around the Binnenalster, the central harbour, right in the heart of Hamburg. Luxury hotels, consulates and prominent businesses are located all around this square body of water.
Walking up Brand Street a young girl was sitting in an outside Cafe, holding a tiny dog. His name was Filu. I never asked, if the parked SMART car across the road, rego number ... 228, was hers.
Another vehicle I spotted carried a licence plate from none other than my home town Esslingen (ES - In Germany the first part of the numberplate tells, where it is registered). The full registration plate was: ES - T 5011, the company's name was NT&TEN (Name and No. slightly changed).
(A little research for this chapter revealed this firm is located in the greater Esslingen area, in a suburb called Owen under Teck. It all makes sense).
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Found in Eulenweg, Volksdorf
BAM BAM BHOLE 50 Filter - Tips
Above is one of the exceptions of my 'no footpath trash' policy. The name BAM goes back a very long time in my story. It is closely linked with the number 963 (Book 2, Mind Chapter 16).
I hope I am not advertising cigarettes here, if so - don't take this as such. In Australia, I heard recently, only 17 % of people still smoke.
An interesting thought: Surround BAM with OA and you will arrive at the name of a very prominent US citizen. We all may hear a lot more of him in the future.
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The city I mostly looked forward to exploring was Berlin. Since my previous visit 35 years earlier, German history had changed the world. Berlin would have to be the city, which was affected the most by the fall of Communism in the Eastern Block.
From the super modern, multi-storey central railway station to the ultra contemporary architecture of the Federal Administration precinct, all looked out of this world. I was to see a lot during my four days in Berlin, both big modern architecture and insignificant bits of trash on the road; plus the ever present car registration plates, phone numbers and other fundamentals that make the world go round.
My host Elsa and her family lived in the suburb of Steglitz. At first I took the wrong Stadt-Bahn, then had trouble locating the street where they lived. My memory let me down. It was amazing how few people, even just a few streets away, could not direct me to the street I was looking for. Finally, a driving instructor knew where I needed to go.
Elsa was a sister to Christa. I knew her very well from the days in the church youth group. I hold fond memories of singing, studying the bible and going for long Sunday afternoon walks through the vineyards. I really felt welcome visiting my old friend.
It surprised me that the nights were so quiet, despite the high-density, all multi-story apartment buildings. Elsa had problems at times finding a car park near her front door. Apart from this, many times in various places in Germany, did I have a positive impression, thinking, I could live here! The lovely weather may have had something to do with it too.
Elsa's hospitality and cooking was as superb as that of her sister. (Later I would be staying with another of the three sisters, again enjoying my favourite Schwabian home cooked meals).
Just as well I did a fair bit of cycling around Berlin, to work off all the calories. The traffic did not bother me. Unlike in the US, cyclists are very well respected and catered for in Europe.
In Australia it was ANZAC Day as I took off on Elsa's bicycle. From Steglitz it was a quick trip into the centre of Berlin, along busy Schloss Strasse, according to Wikipedia, Berlin's second longest shopping street. It wasn't long before my code made it's Berlin debut. Or should I say, I saw something significant enough, to make me stop in my tracks and take a look.
An old car was parked at the big roundabout, right opposite the Sieges-Saeule (column of Victory, good start). It was a neglected looking Ford with a large number 1 on the side. This complimented the registration plate 350, hence my interest. I left my 'business card' on the windscreen.
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Litfa-Saeule on Berlin's main shopping Boulevard - Kurfuerstendamm
When taking this photo I only wanted a good shot of a Berlin Street scene. Here's what I got, from left: BER - Top Tour Berlin - mm - U - S.
You think I'm playing Where's Wally. Can't be, Wally took the photo.
An observation, regarding the Adelaide Litfa-Saeule in my dream long ago (I had seen ISSO in the top [!] section) ANGAS - fits perfectly.
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The new Bundestag, located within the old Reichstag building, is one of Berlin's most popular tourist attractions. Every time I passed by, large crowds were waiting to get in. I finally joined the queue. It wasn't very long, after a brief security check, I was enjoying 360 degree views from the viewing area under the famous glass dome. It was an amazing sight, a re-united Berlin.
As I skirted around the huge Bundestag building on the side toward the river Spree, I saw two removalist trucks parked, on their own, in a no standing zone. It sounds silly, but I noted the company (Zapf) and their phone number: 061 061 ...
There was a reason my brain had kicked in. The day before in Ahrensburg I had picked up a piece of paper. It was in a driveway. I just collected it for no real reason. The number on this docket was very similar to above, that's why I took notice. There was only one handwritten word on the docket; Bosler.
Out of curiosity I googled that word. In a most bizarre twist, I came across a site, promoting healing and forgiveness over violence. The site actively works toward abolishing the death penalty.
I surfed a little further and clicked on a link - Storytelling as a religion. Nothing came up, only the 'Page cannot be found' message. Clicking through to the relevant homepage, what a surprise - It belonged to a faculty of Virginia Tech!
A very long shot: Re: L Sob?
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Top left: Tourist Mecca: Brandenburg Gate.
Bottom left: Remains of the Berlin Wall. Someone wrote on it what everybody thought - MADNESS.
Die Welt is a major Newspaper. Balloon flights were available.
Right: Poster outside the Check-Point Charley museum.
In the early hours of August 13, 1961 East German troops cut the city in half, initially with rolls of barbed wire, as seen between the helpless child and the East German armed soldier. The madness cost many lives.
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I continued my top cycling tour of Berlin. Waiting at a red traffic light on busy Hardenberg Strasse, close to the Gedaechtniskirche, I noticed a large plastic shopping bag, littering the busy road. It looked reasonably clean and probably only moments earlier been dropped by a careless shopper. I was close enough to read numbers 12 - 9 on it, without dismounting my bike.
At first I ignored the challenge to pick it up. The lights changed to green, but I could not move. A huge bus was turning right toward Kant Strasse, but had to wait for pedestrians. It boxed me in. Before traffic flowed, my green light had again turned red. The plastic bag with the 12 -9 number was again eyeballing me, as if some unfinished business had to be done.
What the heck, I thought. Who cares about the crowds watching, I wheeled my bike a few steps and gathered it up, oblivious of the horde of pedestrians watching me. I dropped my find into a nearby bin. But that wasn't the end of the matter.
Seconds later, while still waiting for a green light, a cyclist crossed the road a few feet in front of me. He carried a large plastic shopping bag. In huge letters I read the word REAL. It was uncanny, the timing and all.
(The next day there was to be a sequel to above find, see next chapter).
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Four days later - real - find in Esslingen, 29th April 07.
Rushing along Esslingen's Bahnhof Strasse to catch a train from the Bahnhof on April 29th, I found above on the pavement - half a plastic card (a Real store shopping card?)
During my extensive train travel I saw a number of 'Real' signs. Mr. Google tells me the Walmart group operates a number of Real stores in Germany.
Please, do not confuse Real Store with that of Realschule. Real different.
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One more special clean up act, which I carried out in Germany's capital, deserves a mention. Again I saw some trash, then a bin, and united the two to play my part for the Umweltschutz, meaning ' Environmental protection.'
I happened to be cycling in the Regierungsviertel (Government Square) right past the Bundeskanzler Amt (Office of the Chancellor). The large paved area looked spotless, except for one piece of silver paper. Silver paper has no numbers, and it's not my job to clean the streets, anyway, I reasoned, and continued cycling. But my conscience stirred. I know, when that happens, from experience.
A thought went through my mind: You picked up trash in many states of Australia, in various parts of the USA, in London, in Amsterdam, in Hamburg and now - here is your chance to do the right thing, right outside the office of the highest office holder of the fatherland, and you hesitate? How could I not do it?
I spotted a bin. On the bicycle the whole clean-up job took 30 seconds. (After all Angela may have been having afternoon tea and just at that moment looked out of her window?)
A thought came as I played with the word SILVER. It contains the three letters IVL = 1550.
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Berlin - Gedaechtniskirche (Memorial Church, the old bombed out church has been left as a war memorial. It's nickname is hohler Zahn (hollow tooth).
The new octagonal shaped tower was added in 1961.
The bus number was 57. But as my diary says, it's not all about numbers. I must learn to ignore them, or I go insane. Did you notice how much I saved taking my friend's bike instead of a sightseeing tour? - 15 Euro.
Only meters from where I took above photo, a circus was putting one of their Camels on show, as part of a promotion. Circus BARELLI was advertised as the second largest in Germany. Nice name. I bet they have lions.
In a fast food restaurant in a shopping arcade, sitting on a bar stool, I had a Bratwurst with mustard and a bread roll. On leaving I noticed the name of the place - Bendig. I felt like telling the Fraeulein, there is an 0 missing in your business name. I could have told her some stories about Bendigo.
Then again, she would not have had a clue where Bendigo was, and probably thought I was a basket case.
Then again, she may have been well travelled and intelligent?
Her surname was - Fischer.