Vivid headgears worn by Minorities @ Sapa Market

Hong Kong

Hong Kong
Mango dessert sold in Hoi Lau San @ Yau Ma Tei


Rare glimpse of Proboscis Monkey @ Bako National Park


A Blue & White (青花) Vase displayed @ Forbidden City

Potsdam / Berlin

Day Two

We woke up early for our Postdam day tour and set off from our hotel at 8 am in the morning. As we reached the Zoo station more than half an hour early, about 9 am, we then decided to get our breakfast from a bakery shop 'Kamps' located at the station (left photo below). Got myself a cheese-croissant at EUR 1.39 and a cup of latté at EUR 2.25 (right photo below).

The meeting place for the Potsdam tour was outside the McDonalds (left photo below), and conveniently this fast-food restaurant is opposite the main entrance of Zoo Station (right photo below). This Potsdam tour was a 6-hour trip out of Berlin city and cost EUR 15 per adult. Since we took the Berlin walking tour from Insider Tours the day before, we had an additional EUR 3 discount; so my colleague and I paid only EUR 12 each for this trip. Do note that the Potsdam tour is only available on every Sunday and Wednesday at 0950 hours.

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

While waiting for the tour group to form, I decided to explore the place around the Zoo station. To my surprise I saw this Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial church in proximity (left photo below). It was the same church I saw the day before right after visiting the Hard Rock Café (right photo below was taken the day before during evening time).

Also known as Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche in German, this church monument is one of Berlin's most famous landmarks. The church was built in 1890s but destroyed partially by bombs in 1943. After World War II, the ruins were removed, leaving only the massive front tower at the base of which the Memorial Hall is situated. In 1961, an octagonal church in blue glass and a new free-standing bell tower were added beside the Memorial Hall.


Potsdam is an independent city bordering Berlin, and also the capital of Brandenburg, with almost 140,000 inhabitants. The city suffered very badly during the World War II when the allies bombed the town's centre. Despite its wartime loses, Potsdam today is one of the most interesting cities in Germany.

Our tour began by taking a regional train to Potsdam at 1017 hours from platform 4 of the Zoo station (left photo below). The whole journey took less than 20-mins to Potsdam station (right photo below). After exited from the station, we then took a tram to Potsdam Old Town.

Brandenburg Gate of Potsdam

First sight we saw was this Brandenburg Gate. Not to be confused by the gate with the same name in Berlin, this gate was built in 1771 as a symbol of victory for Frederick II of Prussia. This Brandenburg Gate (left photo below) resembles a Roman triumphal arch with its prototype based on the Arch of Constantine in Rome. The gate is ornately decorated with Corinthian double-columns and even with golden trumpets held by angels (right photo below).

We then took a slow walk to Sanssouci Park. The enormous park covers an area of 287-hectares and is among the most beautiful palace complexes in Europe.

Church of Peace

Also known as Friedenskirch in German, the Church of Peace (photos below) is a protestant church situated in the palace grounds of Sanssouci Park. The cornerstone of the church house was laid on April 14, 1845 by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. In general, the structure of the church resembles a High Italian monastery based on Basilica of Saint Clement in Rome, Italy.

The free-standing 42-meters high campanile or bell-tower is based on the design of the campanile in Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin of Rome (left photo below). In the middle of an inner courtyard stands a larger-than-life statue of Christ on a fountain (right photo below). This statue is a copy of the marble original created in 1821 in the Copenhagen Church of Our Lady, where an ancient Greek script on the edge of the fountain reads: "Cleanse thyself of thy sins and not just thy face".

At the south part of the arcade stands a marble relief named "Moses in prayer, supported by the high priests Aaron and Hur" (left photo below). Parallel to the south arcade is the Heilsbronn Porch (right photo below). This porch is a replica of a Roman tiered porch at the former refectory in the Heilsbronn Cloister of Middle Franconia of Bavaria, Germany.


The Marly Garden is located in Sanssouci Park and was laid out in 1847 by King Friedrich Wilhelm I. The network of paths and land-gardening interact with each other, creating a sense of space that prevails over the garden's quite narrow boundaries. Among the many decorations in the Park are the "Flora im Fächerbeet" statue (left photo below) and "White & Blue Glass Pillar" (right photo below).

Sanssouci Palace

Also known as Schloss Sanssouci in German, the name Sanssouci in fact is French which means "without a care". This gives an indication of the flamboyant character of this enchanting Rococo palace. Built in 1745, the original sketches were made by Friedrich II (Frederick the Great) himself. The king clearly loved this palace so much that his final wish was to be buried there, near the tomb of his Italian greyhounds. Instead he was interred in the Garrison Church, Potsdam after his death. Only in 1991 that the King's final wish to be buried in Sanssouci Palace was carried out by his descendants.

While proceeding from the Marlygarten to the palace foreground (left photo below), I observed many sculptures were erected on the edge of the walkway; just like the one I saw prior entering (right photo below). These are the masterpieces of French marble sculptures which was a feature copied from Versailles in Paris.

The great fountain (left photo below) was built at the centre of this garden in 1748. However King Frederick never saw water jetting out from this fountain as his engineer at that time had little knowledge of hydraulic power. Nevertheless the garden was built with great details; even the mouth of a fountain was elaborately decorated (right photo below).

The terraced vineyard is another highlight of Sanssouci. Created over the south slope of Bornstedt Hill, three wide terraces (left photo below) were built with convex centres to maximize the sunlight. In total there are 168 glass-covered niches (right photo below) at the terraces where vines from various parts of Europe once grew.

The palace building, rather small in Europe's standard, is made up of single-storey block that consists of only ten rooms (photos below) flanked by two side wings. It was King Frederick's idea to have this palace as a private pleasure house.

The palace front was decorated by beautiful carved Atlas and Caryatids in the image of Bacchants – the companions of the wine god Bacchus (photos below). These sandstone figures were grouped in pairs of both sexes between the windows that appeared to support the balustrade.

On the contradictory, the North entrance façade is more restrained where there are 88 Corinthian columns curved outwards from the palace building (left photo below). Due to time constraint of our guided tour, my colleague and I decided not to visit the interior of the palace. Perhaps we have missed the most lavish rooms in Potsdam; just look at the long queue outside the building will have the answer (right photo below).

Managed to take some pictures of its interior for illustration. These pictures were taken from the palace description board: the Library (left photo below), Audience Chamber (right photo below), Marble Hall (bottom left photo) and Study Room (bottom right photo).

At the end of each wing stands an independent trellised gazebo (left photo below) richly decorated with glided ornaments (right photo below).

During the World War II the Sanssouci survived from the intense bombardment nearby, except for the windmill. It was only after the German reunification that the windmill was rebuilt (left photo below). Our tour group then strolled towards the western end of the Sanssouci park where we saw this obelisk (right photo below) erected since 1748.

Old Town of Potsdam

We then walked back to the Old Town for lunch. The main street (photos below) of the Old Town, Brandenburger Straße, was bustling with visitors searching for their souvenirs and food. Perhaps we visited on a weekend.

After a long hunt, we decided to have Turkish kebab from a small eatery: Döner Dinner Takeaway (left photo below) besides the main street. Ordered a takeaway kebab with fries at EUR 3 and a soft-drink at EUR 1.80 (right photo below) for myself. Taste was good as the fries came directly from the fryer. As for the ambience, it was nice as we sat outside the eatery watching passerby while having our lunch.

At the western end of Brandenburger Straße stands the Catholic Church of St. Peter and Paul (left photo below). The most striking feature of this yellow brick building is the 64-meters Italian bell tower. Over the main entrance stood the sculptures of Apostles Peter and Paul, and in the middle is Mary with the Christ child (right photo below).

Dutch Quarter

Also known as Holländisches Viertel in German, the Dutch Quarter is a neighborhood in Potsdam consisting of 134 red brick buildings in Dutch style (photos below). Built from 1733 to 1740, it is considered to be Europe's largest collection of Dutch-style houses outside the Netherlands.

Alexandrowka Russian Colony

Alexandrowka is a small colony of wooden buildings in Potsdam (photos below). They were built in 1826 for the purpose to house singers from a Russian choir, and to create a space of pleasant surroundings which would induce music and leisure. The Colony also includes a small Russian Orthodox chapel just up the hill. It is now open as a museum.

The Alexandrowka Russian Colony is now part of the 'Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin' UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.

Former KGB Town

Did a search in the internet but couldn't find an official name for the place. Some even called it the 'Forbidden Town in Potsdam'. This small area was made up of KGB offices, villas and other buildings used by Soviets (photos below). Locals during that time were not allowed to enter and its location was erased from all maps. The KGB didn't leave the area until August 1993.

Cecilienhof Palace

Known as Schloss Cecilienhof in German, this was the last palace built between 1914 and 1917 by the Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany for his son, Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany. The palace is made up of brick and oak timber-frame, including six courtyards and fifty-five carved brick chimney tops (photos below).

Again due to time constraint and availability of the guided tour from the palace, we didn't explore the interior of the palace. Instead we just walked around to admire its exterior façade.

Almost hidden in a corner of the palace is this bronze sculpture where it depicts the Greek mythology Narcissus captivated by his own reflection (left photo below) over a pool of water. An even more interesting part of the building is the roof has facial-like features, in which the windows formed the pupils (right photo below) of the eyes. This building is easily located within the main courtyard.

Cecilienhof Palace was the venue for the famous Potsdam Conference held between 17 Jul and 02 Aug 1945. Leaders of the three superpowers, namely Prime Minister Winston Churchill, later Clement Attlee, President Harry S. Truman and Communist Party General Secretary Joseph Stalin (left photo below) met in the great hall to discuss the administration of Germany after Nazi's defeat. It was also here in Potsdam where Churchill and Truman issued an declaration defining the Japanese surrender.

Besides conferences, the Cecilienhof Palace was also a place to show military power. The red star (right photo below) in middle of the main courtyard symbolized Soviet's role as a host of this summer meeting since Potsdam already part of the Soviet-occupied zone in Germany. Created under the order of Stalin, the flower bed is made of red geraniums surrounded by blue hydrangeas.

Today Cecilienhof Palace is a museum as well as a hotel, and has been part of the 'Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin' UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.

Glienicke Bridge

Also known as Glienicker Brücke in German, this bridge (photos below) spans over Havel River connecting cities of Berlin and Potsdam. During the Cold War, this bridge was better known as the 'Bridge of Spies'. This bridge was one of the few places in Germany where the Soviet Union and Western Allies stood directly opposite each other. The United States and the Soviet Union used it four times to exchange captured spies during the Cold War, thus the reporter referred it as 'Bridge of Spies'.

With the visit of the bridge, this marked the end of our Potsdam tour. We then took the train back to Berlin. Overall, the guide was knowledgeable and enthusiastic which made our tour enjoyable. However it could be tiring as most of the time we had to walk from point to point. Also I was rather disappointed as the tour does not cover Neues Palace.

Rotes Rathaus

Alighted at Hackescher Markt Station in Berlin, we then took a walk towards Alexanderplatz where the Rotes Rathaus (photos below) could be seen. Built between 1861 and 1869, the Rotes Rathaus is currently the town hall of Berlin and home to governing mayor and the government of the Federal State of Berlin.


The Fernsehturm (photos below) is a television tower in the city centre of Berlin near to Alexanderplatz. Constructed between 1965 and 1969 by the former German Democratic Republic who intended it as a symbol of East Berlin, now it is easily visible throughout the central and some suburban districts of Berlin. At the height of 368-meters, it is the tallest structure in Germany. There is visitor platform, or panoramic floor, at a height of about 203-meters and a revolving restaurant in the middle of the sphere above the visitor platform.

During the reign of former German Democratic Republic (East Germany), all religious practices were banned. However with the construction of the Fernsehturm, this gave an unexpected result when the sun shines on the tower's tiled stainless steel dome; the reflection appeared in the form of a cross. Residents of Berlin called this effect 'Pope’s Revenge'.


Ampelmännchen is the symbolic figures shown on traffic lights at pedestrian crossings in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany). The East Berlin Ampelmännchen was created in 1961 as part of a proposal for a new traffic lights layout. Unexpectedly, the Ampelmännchen had became a beloved symbol in Eastern Germany. After the fall of Berlin Wall, the Ampelmännchen acquired cult status and soon became a popular souvenir item in the tourism business.

The design of Ampelmännchen has been incorporated into various souvenirs (left photo below) and sold in Ampelmann store (right photo below) in Berlin.

Jewish Museum Berlin

The Jewish Museum Berlin, known as Jüdisches Museum Berlin in German, is one of the largest Jewish Museums in Europe. There are two separate buildings in design that make up the museum (left photo below); the new Libeskind-designed Jewish Museum Berlin and the old Kollegienhaus.

The new building consists of about 15,000 square meters, is a twisted zig-zag and its shape is reminiscent of a warped Star of David. An irregular matrix of windows cuts in all orientations across the building's facade (right photo below), while a thin layer of zinc coats the building's exterior, which will oxidize and turn bluish as it weathers (bottom photos).

In this museum, two millennia of German Jewish history are on display in the permanent exhibition as well as in various changing exhibitions. The museum is opened to the public in 2001.

Berlin Wall Information Board

This information board has the best description on the history of Berlin Wall as well as the Cold War (left photo below). It stretches along both sides of Friedrichstraße (right photo below) near to the Charlie Check Point. Best of all, it's free and visitors can spend their own time reading the information.

Dinner along Friedrichstraße

After visiting the Berlin Wall Information Board, we decided to have dinner nearby. Chose a Chinese restaurant and ordered a set meal which consisted of sweet and sour chicken with rice at EUR 6 (photos below).

Day Three

We woke up extremely early on this day; almost at 4 am in the morning to check-out our hotel and walked towards Berlin-Schönefeld Airport for our morning flight at 0640 hrs to Basel. As it was still early, we decided to take our breakfast inside the airport transit area after check-in. I had ordered bread and a cup of cappuccino for EUR 5 at Marché Bistro (photos below), which was a rather satisfying breakfast in the early mornining.

After train ride from Basel to Neuchâtel, we then had a quick wash-up at our apartment. Feeling refreshed, my colleague and I were back to work to start the week. With this, it ended our final trip to Germany.

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