Just about 30km outside of Berlin lies Potsdam, a small city so perfectly put together that you feel like you’re on a movie set at times. There are castles, lakes, blooming meadows and cobble stone streets lined with cute cafés and restaurants. No wonder the Prussian emperors had a soft spot for this place.

There's also a castle there in the background. But it was so sunny that it doesn't come out in the picture unfortunately. HA, I never thought I'd say that about the weather in Germany...

The famous Prussian emperor Frederick the Great (Friedrich II) built his summer seat here: Sans Souci or “without a care”.

It is really very modest for a castle, when you think about it.

Quite ingenious, the terraced steps leading up to the castle are lined with glass cabinets to grow wine. Like tiny individual greenhouses that can be opened or closed depending on the weather. When we were there it was nice and warm so the doors were open.

The guest house and the windmill.

The Chinese tea house in the park. If you stepped too close an alarm went off and a voice over admonished you for daring to get that close to the gold statues. Not embarrassing at all.

We rented bikes for the day to see as much as possible (and have some cool air flowing around us since the sun was relentless). So besides Sans Souci and its various outhouses and parks we also saw the old Dutch quarter in Potsdam proper. The houses were built for Dutch workers brought to Potsdam in the early 1700s, presumably so they’d feel more at home.

And then there are all the gorgeous lakes and canals around the city…

Glienicke bridge, formerly the border between east and west Germany. They used this to exchange spies and other high profile prisoners, just like in a John Le Carré novel.

A well earned reward.

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