After finishing three weeks work in Essen, I visited Berlin for a few days before flying all the way home again to New Zealand. In my first half-day after arriving on the train, I walked around getting my bearings again, currywurst for lunch of course, and then met up with good friends from Finland/New Zealand who had timed their weekend visit to coincide with mine.
The following day I took the train out to Potsdam, which is a city just outside Berlin and capital of the German state of Brandenburg. It was the place of residence of the Prussian Kings until 1918, and so has a lot of monumental buildings including several palaces, including Sanssouci - Sans Souci meaning in French "Without Worries" - which was the summer palace of Frederick the Great.
The summer palace was meant to be a residence for the King to relax away from the formality and ceremony of the main German court in Berlin. Of course it is still huge, ornate and covered in gold leaf. It is supposedly a German rival to Versailles, but really is much much smaller, like a very fancy country villa rather than a huge palace. It is built on a very cool terraced vineyard though, which might have made for a nice picture if it wasn't the middle of winter and cold and grey.
The Sansoucci grounds are massive, containing both the Sansoucci Palace, and the New Palace, which is much larger and grander, and was built shortly after Sansoucci to celebrate the end of the 7-years war. This one is considered the last of the great German Baroque palaces. There is also another Orangerie palace, an oriental-styled pavilion called the 'Chinese Teahouse', roman-styled Baths, and another tiny 'Charlottenhof' Palace.