Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Summer tour ends with an unexpected surprise

We reserved space at a German youth hostel where a most accommodating young house parent gave us tips about German hosteling. The young German hostel warden suggested that we stay in Pensions (with breakfast) in West Berlin.

He mentioned that the former neighbor city, East Berlin, was almost no city at all, since the war. We planned to visit Checkpoint Charlie and to view the sad remains of East Berlin in the VW that we used to tour France and Germany.

We planned to have lunch in West Berlin and then head down the corridor without the delays we encountered two days before. We would be at the youth hostel with time to spare.

The drive through East Berlin passed many old unused stores; all had "Closed Today" signs and were obviously closed permanently. Our bus driver announced, with a false air of authority, "Photographs are not permitted" as we pass the mound of dirt (on our left.) Adolf Hitler created this underground bunker, where he spent his last days. The driver slowed so all cameras could focus on an ugly mound of dirt (with steps leading downward). One photo was one too many for me.

In an old building, there was happy noise and great rejoicing by a small group near a corner where eight or 10 people on second and third floors were trying to get our attention with flags, colored clothing or sheets of bright material - anything to attract our attention. They were trying to tell us something, but the bus driver wanted no part of that. Perhaps they wanted to send messages to old friends or relatives; they were happy, but the bus driver was not. He made a quick trip to where our VW van had been parked all morning.

My husband, Chub, was uneasy and eager to get back to where people spoke English. He began unlocking doors and discovered one rear door was already unlocked. We were suddenly quiet and disbelieving. How could this be? Were all of our bags and containers in their regular places? Nothing seemed to have been disturbed or taken. Bloom suggested that we drive to the nearest traffic control station and make a report.

"May I see your papers?" the officer asked.

Chub immediately reached into a compartment where our car papers were kept. It was empty!

Our car papers had been stolen!

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