I'm back from a quick trip to Germany. M&J had to visit an ophthalmologist in Magdeburg, and the destination seemed like a stretch for them. Worse, yet, there's no commercial airport in Magdeburg, so we sequenced planes, trains, and automobiles from Arizona to erstwhile East Germany. The response I've learned for the question of "Where is Magdeburg?" is that is the birthplace of Georg Telemann, about a 90-minute train ride west of Berlin.
Adding to the level of travel difficulty, M booked our stay with Airbnb in Neustadt. In the flurry of emails and confusion preceding departure, we misplaced the check-in instructions. Adding insult to injury, we struggled with German telephone numbers, an unfamiliar American iPhone, spotty internet, forgotten passwords, unseasonal heat, and cranky taxi drivers, so after 18 hours of travel and another 2 waiting outside our apartment, we gave up. Luckily, S saved the day in a pinch, booking our evening at the Maritim downtown, so that we could gather ourselves and leverage reliable internet to message our host.
Magdeburg is a lovely town. There are lots of restaurants downtown and a wide variety of architectural styles. There are walking and biking paths up the river providing views of the city's parks and cathedral.
One restaurant worth mentioning is Hyaku Mizu in the Pink Palace. Mildly, M&J can be difficult customers, frequently ordering off the menu, always making special requests. Our inability to speak German and scarcity of English-language proficiency in Saxony-Anholt, added additional hurdles. The Hyaku Mizu staff, however, rolled with the punches. For example, when M asked if the curried tofu could be softer, our waitress accommodated, directing the chef to substitute tofu from the miso for wok-fried....
We spent the next few days settling in, learning how to use the Magdeburg tram system, exploring grocery stores, and shopping for transit services. The latter stemmed from my worries that M&J could not manage to get their bags to the train station, to the bus, to the airport.... so I spent a few hours scouring the Internet for reviews and visiting travel agencies before settling on a booking from Sachsen-Anhalt Tours, where Pfau graciously arranged for someone to take M&J to Tegel Airport.
I left to overnight in Berlinthe afternoon before my flight home. Being my father's son, I'm always a bit nervous getting to the airport and would rather have a short morning trip than a trek to the airport....
I stayed in Alexanderplatz, which looked like the Times Square equivalent to East Berlin. Everything there is big -- the buildings, restaurants, even the radio tower which is still the second tallest structure in the EU. I headed over to Checkpoint Charlie to see the murals and wall remains. On the way back I passed by lovely cathedrals and concert halls in the dusk, ending the night at Hofbrau Wirtshaus for some brew and the grand bierhaus experience.