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Europaleo before the wall fell

In Sept 81 the Mesozoic Terrestrial Ecosystems conference was held at a 
resort hotel east of Warsaw. Later one night at a Polish researcher's Warsaw 
apartment a Solidarity activist arrived from Gdansk and gave an exciting 
account of activities up there - entirely in Polish. It was a few months before 
the government cracked down on the movement. The Poles had reason to be 
discontented - in one museum restroom the toilet paper was literally shredded 

I took the opportunity to visit the Humboldt museum in east Berlin (where 
some lots bombed out in WW II were still empty) to see my favorite skeleton, 
Brachiosaurus (now Giraffatitan:) brancai and examine the Archaeopteryx. I 
was in the office of Hermann Jaegar with another American whose name I do not 
recall. The other Yank asked Jaeger what it was like living in eastern 
Germany (whose western friendly national macot was a young cartoon bear). I 
cringed at the question, seemed an awkward query that could not be openly 
answered. Jaeger launched into a long discourse on how lousy it was living 
the iron curtain, including the odious travel restrictions. Could not even 
swim or float to far from the resort beaches without making the border guards 
upset. I was amazed, Jaeger did not seemed concerned about the Stasi whom I 
figured bugged his office. 

My flight was out of west Berlin so early in the morning that I got to the 
notorious Check Point Charlie before it was open. Fortunately the east 
German guards were arriving and one was nice enough to check me through in the 
predawn dark. When I got to the other side I realized I had no idea how to get 
to the airport - no way to use the phone. Fortunately a cab pulled up just 
then to drop some people off.