ISSUE 18, July 2006
Archbishop Fisher: A Godly man and a Brother
Travel: The train takes the strain
Quarterly Communication: Annual Investiture speech by the Grand Master and Speech of the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech by the First Grand Principal and Report of the Committee of General Purposes Grand Lodge of New York: Speech by the Pro Grand Master
   Specialist Lodges: Keeping their eyes on the ball
Education: Planning ahead for the Chair and Events and New premises for Masonic research
Royal Opera House: A right Royal occasion
Royal opening: Beamish Museum
Digital records: Saving our past for the future
Library & Museum: The hall in the garden
Queen's Birthday: Masons played a prominent part
International: A Mason and the Foreign Legion
Masonic Charities: Grand Charity and NMSF and RMBI and RMTGB
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Leisurely must definitely be the description for our mode of transport, where it took us the best part of two days to get to our first destination, Berlin, with an overnight stop in Cologne. There were 42 of us, including tour manager John, with the majority of retirement age.
    The trip included a guide in each town who stayed with us for all our tours. Berlin is sprawling, approximately 38 km by 45km, having integrated many of its suburbs. A bus tour gave us a good insight of both east and west Berlin, and included a trip to Potsdam, an hour’s drive, where the German emperors had their numerous palaces, many of which are now open to the general public.
    Each tour is about half a day, leaving time to pursue our own interests, and particularly visit some of the buildings that we had only seen from the outside. Berlin is steeped in evocative memorials. Close to the Brandenburg Gate is a vast memorial, made up of undulating blocks, representing
    coffins which symbolises the mass destruction of Jews. White crosses on the corner of a street tell the story of some of the 1,070 who lost their lives crossing from the east to west of the city during the Cold War. Pieces of the Berlin Wall, as a memorial, are still in evidence in several parts of the city.
    The east has building cranes everywhere, with very few of the derelict buildings left from the former Communist regime. The imposing Reichstag, the official seat of the Bundestag, the German parliament, is a must see on everybody’s list. Originally erected as a manifestation of the power of the German Reich, the interior has been totally transformed by architect Sir Norman Foster into one of the most modern parliamentary buildings in the world. Its cupola, which can be visited, provides breathtaking views of the city. Weather permitting, a pleasurable hour can be spent seeing the city from the River Spree, which flows through the city. There is a choice of boats, some with open-air seating and serving drinks, so it is worth finding one that suits you particularly, as not all of them have the commentary in English.
    Although Poland is now in the European Union, passports are still required, with zloty as the currency. What is rather confusing is that although the language is written with the Latin alphabet, the words are pronounced differently. Fortunately, most of the younger generation can speak English.
    With 85 percent of Warsaw destroyed during the Second World War, first impressions of the city can be deceptive. Some areas of the city were rebuilt under Soviet occupation, and consist of row-upon-row of prefabricated buildings.
    Fortunately, the old town was rebuilt to look as it was originally, and is charming with its narrow streets and outside cafés. By contrast, the business area where our hotel was situated has ultra-modern high rise buildings, although still in walking distance of the old town.
    Various monuments – notably a magnificent sculpture to the freedom fighters under the Soviet regime, and one on the site of what was once part of the Warsaw ghetto – are particularly emotive.
    Warsaw was also the home of Chopin, and the Lazienki Park not only houses a controversial sculpture, but is also the home of a former king’s summer palace. One of the highlights of the trip, an optional extra, was an evening piano recital of Chopin’s music at the palace which is situated in the middle of a lake.

Top right
The Brandenburg Gate at night lights up the German capital

Below left
Inside the dome of the newly built German parliament building in Berlin

Below right
The exterior of the German parliament building


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