Le Chic En Rose

Diaries of an independent traveller

Sanssouci Palace

A little postscript following on from last week’s post about Sanssouci (see here).

To the side of the front terrace you come across a curious tomb. Covered with potatoes, this is the final resting place of Frederick The Great!



The reason for the potatoes is apparently because Frederick introduced them into Prussia in the mid 18th century. They seem to fit with the lack of ostentation (for the times) that Frederick displayed during his life.

However the story of Frederick’s final resting place has had more than a few twists and turns. He wished to be buried near his beloved vine terraces and alongside his favourite dogs. However, after his death in 1786 (he died in an armchair in his study), his nephew and successor, Frederick William II, went against his uncle’s instructions. Instead Frederick William had his uncle buried in what he considered a more fitting place, the Potsdam Garrison Church (see here for an interesting article on the church’s controversial past). Frederick was thus laid to rest next to the tomb of the father he hated, Frederick William I, the Soldier King. We had heard some pretty traumatic stories of Frederick’s upbringing during our tour round the palace and one could well understand his wishes to be kept apart from his father even in death.

Frederick’s coffin stayed in the garrison church until 1943 when it was removed by German soldiers for safekeeping. His father’s coffin was removed at the same time and after a few twists and turns they both ended up at the Burg Hohenzollern in Hechingen Baden Wuerttemberg.

Happily after the reunification of Germany, Frederick’s final wishes were fulfilled. On 17th August 1991, the 205th anniversary of his death, Frederick’s sarcophagus was laid out on the forecourt of Sanssouci with a military guard of honour. He was buried in his chosen resting place later that night.

You can still see all the graves of Frederick’s favourite dogs next to the main tomb (they had lain there undisturbed all that time).



Frederick The Great’s Tomb – Graves Of His Dogs In A Row


His father was reburied in the Mausoleum of the Church Of Peace (Die Friedenskirche) in Sanssouci Park. We found this church a bit dark and forbidding in comparison to the charms of Sanssouci and I’ve only shown the better photos of it here.




In addition to his summer palace at Sanssouci, Frederick also had the larger and more overtly palatial Neues Palais (The New Palace) built some 20 years or so later. It was partly built to show the rest of Europe that Prussia had survived stronger and intact following the Seven Years’ War though Frederick disliked its “ostentation” and hardly ever lived there himself.

Frederick apparently said of his desired final resting place, “”Quand je serai là, je serai sans souci” (Once I am there, I shall be carefree). Sanssouci Park is a beautiful legacy enjoyed by visitors from far and wide to this day.




Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Sanssouci Park

Sanssouci was commissioned by Frederick The Great of Prussia and built between 1745 and 1747. “A crown is just a hat that lets the rain in” he once said!  He had modest tastes and wanted a place he could retreat to, far away from the pomp and grandeur of the Berlin Court.

The inscription above the entrance reads “Sans Souci” from the French “without a care” or “carefree”, as we would say in English. Frederick, as we learnt on our tour around, liked to come here and ponder affairs of state in solitude often (apart from servants) with only his dogs for company. For some reason the palace always seems to be referred to as Sanssouci in all the guide books so I’ll leave it as one word here to avoid any confusion. The Evolving Scientist has written about this conundrum too and included some lovely photos of his own tour round the palace here.



Sanssouci Palace Potsdam – Inscription “Sans Souci” without a care


Originally the grounds had been planted on Frederick’s orders with terraces containing vines and fruit trees. He later decided that the setting would be the perfect place in which to build his summer palace. The entrance to the tour starts around the other side of the palace from the terraces, but to get a better perspective, head round to the “back” to get the view down over the gardens. If you’ve walked in from the town centre, like we did, you’ll also get a wonderful view looking up from the Sanssouci grounds to the palace at the top of the hill. I’ve mixed up some photos from both our first visit to Sanssouci in 2013 and our most recent, last year, as the weather was considerably sunnier the first time around!



Entry is by pre-arranged time slots – you can buy tickets on the day without any problem but you may have to kill some time before going in, especially if there is a big tour group going round before you. With an hour or so to wait we checked out the souvenir shops and headed up to the Historic Mill (Historische Muehle) where we found a small bar/cafe in the grounds. The service was rather slow though I was able to practise my German with a lovely (and patient!) couple from Munich who shared our table! The Mill has an interesting history dating back to Frederick the Great’s time. Unlike most of the Sanssouci Park area, the original mill was destroyed in a stoush between German and Soviet troops at the end of the 2nd World War and has been rebuilt as close to the original building as possible.




We duly arrived back at the palace entrance well in time for our tour slot. Sanssouci has been likened to Versailles on a much smaller scale. If you can call a palace cosy and intimate this would be the one. With only 10 principal rooms it has the feel of a country villa, which is really what Frederick envisaged. Designed to overlook the terraced gardens and vines, the style emphasised the connection between man and nature “Frederician Rococo”. Having been to Versailles many years ago and more recently the lavish Schoenbrunn, Sanssouci felt more warm and inviting.



The bedrooms were for the most part surprisingly plain – still ornate by modern standards of course but not as ostentatious or over the top as one might expect. They had a sort of whimsical charm. Of course much of the furniture has been added later to reproduce the style of Frederick’s day. Most of the original artworks were removed for safekeeping during the 2nd World War and many have “dispersed” elsewhere.



There was still plenty of marble around the place though and neoclassical statues on display. I obviously had a fascination with the chandeliers too, as I seem to have taken plenty of photos of them! The Marmorsaal (Marble Hall) was the principal reception area and is decorated in white and gold with a dome crowned by a cupola.



Frederick, despite his liking for solitude, still entertained widely. Voltaire, the French philosopher, was a regular visitor during his stay in Potsdam between 1750 and 1753. The guest room that he usually stayed in is far more intricately decorated than the other bedrooms with yellow lacquered walls and ornate wood carvings of animals, flowers and birds. It has subsequently become known as the Voltaire Room or alternatively the Flower Room.



I preferred the simpler style of the blue and white porcelain though the ornate floral ones were very pretty in their own way!



Porcelain Collection Sanssouci


On our first visit to Potsdam we did the Original Berlin Walks “Discover Potsdam” Tour and hadn’t got enough time left to tour round the palace itself (not included in the tour price).  It was therefore a priority on our last visit to make amends. Although a hugely popular tourist destination, the palace complex is sufficiently well organised to run like clockwork. Sanssouci transports you to a bygone era and certainly makes you feel that you have no cares! There is still so much more to explore in the Sanssouci area – more to follow next week!



Sanssouci Palace


Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Brandenburger Tor Potsdam

Potsdam, the capital of the state of Brandenburg, is only half an hour or so’s train ride from the centre of Berlin. With its elegant imperial buildings, pretty cobbled streets and laid-back vibe, it is a highly popular attraction, especially at weekends.




We were introduced to this lovely city on my first trip to Berlin in 2013 when we took a day trip with Original Berlin Walks (their “Discover Potsdam” tour).  A pleasant antidote to some of the rather dark history of Berlin, the UNESCO World Heritage City of Potsdam is steeped in history from an earlier age. It was the royal seat of the Hohenzollern rulers of Prussia and has become renowned for its splendid parks and gardens.

Sanssouci, the summer home of King Friedrich II (Frederick The Great of Prussia), is the best known and an absolute gem of a palace. Miraculously this area of Potsdam emerged relatively undamaged by the ravages of the Second World War and the Schloss Cecilienhof was the venue for the end of war Potsdam Conference between the Allied Powers. More to follow about both these attractions in later posts but before heading off to Sanssouci Park it is well worth taking a detour into the town centre.

The main street, Brandenburger Strasse, runs in a straight line from the church of St Peter and St Paul up to the impressive arch of the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) – not to be confused with the Brandenburg Gate in Pariser Platz Berlin. The Potsdam one was also commissioned by Frederick The Great towards the end of the Seven Years’ War in the style of a triumphal Roman arch.




Shops, cafes, street performers and markets all cater to visitors from far and wide and the centre has more than a touch of French ambience to it.




A good tip is to head off the main drag in search of refreshments. We found so many half empty bars and restaurants down the side streets as none of the tourists seem to have discovered them!

About 50 metres away from the busy Brandenburger Strasse, we discovered Brasserie Zu Gutenberg (their webpage is only in German but rest assured the staff all speak English!). Charming decor, a fantastic wine selection and delicious seasonal produce (including my favourite “Weiss Spargel” – white asparagus) made for an excellent lunch. We enjoyed the convivial atmosphere, a world away from the fast food outlets and overcrowded cafes we had seen on the main streets.



Just what we needed before setting off to explore further – more to follow!


For more inspiration for travels and especially strolls and walks head over to Restless Jo’s Monday Walk each week!


Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved



Bears - Symbol Of Berlin!

Back on track with my Berlin series this week after a few weeks detour to Western Australia! To fit into context you can find my previous Berlin posts here.

Although only a 5 minute walk from our hotel by the River Spree, we’d somehow managed to miss seeing the Nikolaiviertel (Nicholas Quarter) on our previous trip to Berlin in 2013 so we were keen to fit it in on our visit last April.



Nikolaiviertel Berlin


Situated on the site of the oldest residential part of Berlin, renovations of this ancient area are still ongoing (like much of Berlin!) and so we couldn’t walk the most direct way along the river path. Our detour round the back streets took us past the sort of  typical sights you come across in the city centre and helps to give Berlin its quirky character.

We passed through Marx-Engels Forum, a public park on Karl-Liebkneckt Strasse, a hark back to the days of the heroes of the DDR.

We wandered down a street alongside some of the large pink pipes, which we noticed everywhere we went. These intriguing objects are not some sort of modern art installation but, as we had learnt on an earlier walking tour, a necessary by-product of the ubiquitous building work. They are required to pump away the excessive ground water that otherwise would affect foundations. Berlin is apparently built on a swamp!

On a street corner leading into the Nikolaiviertel we saw the imposing red brick facade of the Berlin Rathaus. In front of it stood the signs promoting the building work currently in progress.


The old centre of Berlin originally grew up around the River Spree in the Middle Ages. What is now known as the Nikolaiviertel was situated on an important trade route at the junction of the meeting point of the road and river. The old medieval laneways and buildings were almost completely destroyed by the Allied bombing raids during the Second World War and for many years the quarter lay virtually in ruins. It was only reconstructed between 1981 and 1987 in the lead up to the 750th anniversary of Berlin’s founding. Plans were taken from historical models and the area recreated as accurately as possible. Today it is a thriving locality with its quaint medieval passages and small streets. Cafes and bars line the square leading from the river and there are many more shops and eateries hidden away in the surrounding streets. Naturally it is a popular spot especially for a Sunday stroll and the spring sunshine added to the appeal on the day we were there!



The imposing twin spires of the Nikolaikirche (St Nicholas’ Church) dominate the quarter. The foundation stone was laid early in the 13th century and the church built in the late Romanesque style. Even before its wartime destruction the church had been discontinued (in 1938) as a place of worship and given over to the government. It was subsequently used as a concert hall and an ecclesiastical museum. Rebuilt along with the rest of the neighbourhood in the 1980s, it is now administered by the Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin. Along with the Nikolaikirche, the Stadtmuseum also takes care of a couple of other buildings of historical interest in the Nikolaiviertel, the Ephraim-Palais and the Knoblauchhaus.



Walking around and absorbing history can be surprisingly tiring so with thoughts of lunch we turned down one of the quieter streets and came across Toute Sweet a pretty little cafe specialising in Dutch delicacies. Sitting at the tables by the side of the street, we had the place more or less to ourselves and a perfect view back to the impressive twin spires of the Nikolaikirche.


The Nikolaiviertel is well worth checking out. All being well by the time we go again the building works will be complete and it will possible to walk right along the banks of the River Spree to reach this charming old neighbourhood.


Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Wyalup Rocky Point Bunbury

Just by way of a postscript to my last couple of posts about the Ferguson Valley (see here and here) I should mention our base of Bunbury. We were lucky enough to be staying with my cousin for the weekend only a stone’s throw from the seashore.



Back Beach Bunbury


Bunbury is a port city about 2 hours south of Perth and many people just breeze through en route to the Cape Naturaliste/Margaret River area further south. It has a rich colonial heritage and has really reinvented itself as a tourist destination in the last decade or so. You can read up more information here.


A major attraction are the bottle nose dolphins, which often swim close to the beach in the Koombana Bay waters. The Dolphin Discovery Centre is a popular place to visit and learn more about these beautiful creatures.


We didn’t have much time to look round Bunbury itself on our recent visit but we did do a couple of waterside walks, one to the bay and the other in the Back Beach area to Wyalup Rocky Point.


Even if you’re heading on down further south, Bunbury is a great spot in which to break the journey. The town centre has many cafes and restaurants and the nearby beach promenade makes a good place to stretch and unwind!


Guide to Bunbury Waterside Walks


Next week back to complete my Berlin posts after a few weeks hiatus!


Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Dardanup Town Centre

Dardanup is the pretty settlement that leads you into the charming Ferguson Valley. With beautiful scenery, forests and also a part of Perth’s Geographe Wine Region this unspoilt area, south west of the city of Bunbury, has much to offer as we found out last week (see here).

En route home we had a brief interlude walking round the old town centre. Full of old world character, Dardanup has many charming buildings harking back to the early European settlement days of the 19th century. The name is derived from the indigenous word, “Dudingup” meaning “a place of swamp reed”. The bus shelter proved to be a wealth of information!


The town has a strong Irish Catholic heritage dating back to early European settlement times and there is still a little church adjacent to Our Lady Of Lourdes School.



The former state school, Dardanup Primary, has now relocated away from the historical centre to the outskirts of town where newer housing has been built. However the heritage listed old school building has been revived as the town visitor centre surrounded with a beautiful memorial rose garden.



The Ferguson Valley Visitor Centre was officially opened in 2008 and you can read up more about the interesting history of the project here. It is named the Don Hewison Centre after one of the craftsmen who worked on the original building restoration in 1988 and who died in a tragic accident 3 years later.



Dardanup – Visitor Centre and Memorial Rose Gardens


Sleepily basking in the sun, the town was a delightful place for a late afternoon stroll and the sort of place that tourists often bypass – a hidden gem indeed!




Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Little Rock - Lennard Drive Scenic Route

The weekend before Christmas we headed down to Bunbury, a couple of hours south of Perth, for a mini getaway. We’ve visited the wineries of the Margaret River region in South Western WA on many occasions (see here, here and here for previous posts) but with time being of the essence we decided to stay closer to home and on the Saturday explored the lesser known but equally picturesque Ferguson Valley.

Just 20 minutes or so from Bunbury you reach the town of Dardanup, which marks the start of the Ferguson Valley. There are a number of scenic drives, which take you through rolling countryside, forests and river valleys dotted with pretty rock pools and streams (extending into the Wellington National Park and Collie River basin). The valley is part of the Geographe Wine Region and is home to several boutique wineries and a range of cafes and gourmet restaurants.


The Wellington Dam, part of the Wellington National Park, is one of the best known landmarks and we found our way there by the back route occasionally taking a wrong turn down an unsealed road! There is a look out point and kiosk at the top of the dam but we wanted to find a winery for lunch and they were back in the other direction.



We ended up taking a one way road, Lennard Drive, part of the national park, which took us on an enchanting drive alongside the Collie River. We came to a pretty scenic look out spot off the road called Little Rock. At this point we realised that we had no mobile coverage and apart from a couple of intrepid kayakers were the only people around. It was such a beautiful little place and so serene and tranquil. I opted not to follow Monsieur, however,  when he decided to take a short cut back to the car via an overgrown bush path – open toed sandals and bush walks are not a good mix!



Fortunately we navigated our way back to the “main” road and found our intended destination, Hackersley  – a small winery blessed with an idyllic setting on a hillside overlooking a dam.


By this stage it was getting late for lunch (nearly 2pm) but we had a warm greeting from the manager who explained the set up. The menu, should we wish to eat, was degustation style – several fixed courses of seasonal produce (changed every 7 weeks). We were able to order one degustation menu between the two of us (having had a large meal the night before plus a healthy breakfast!). We did make an exception for dessert, however, as that was apparently difficult to divide into two!



It was a wonderfully relaxed way to eat made all the more pleasurable by the stunning setting on the veranda. The food, the wines, the service were all excellent and well worth the drive! Ferguson is an undiscovered gem – if you find yourself in South West WA it is a charming place to get away and only a couple of hours drive south from Perth!



Lunch on the Veranda – Hackersley Winery


I’ll be returning to my Berlin series of posts very soon – just wanted to finish off the holiday season with a couple of posts about recent outings in the Perth and South Western WA region!


Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Watermans Beach Western Australia

It’s been a hectic time here in the “Le Chic En Rose” household. We had a lovely Christmas joined by our daughter, Mlle, from London. Time seems to have flown by all too quickly and she left us just in time to see in the New Year back in the UK. Apparently she has barely left the heater since she got home!

We have had rather a cool summer so far by our standards but it is all relative and today it’s really heated up for the start of the New Year. Here to start off the blog for 2017 are a few photos of some of our recent walks down by the sea.



We were so sad to read about the horrible attack on the Christmas markets in Berlin, a city that we have very much enjoyed visiting. One of my treasured Christmas ornaments was brought back for me by Mlle a few years back from the Berlin markets.  I’ll be resuming my articles about the vibrant city of Berlin shortly.



In the meantime, wishing everyone a very happy and peaceful New Year!


Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved



Pleasure Boat On The River Spree Berlin

Apart from taking a walking tour (see here and here for more details ), another great way to see Berlin is by taking a river cruise. We hadn’t done so on our first trip to the city so were keen to make amends this time.

There are a large number of pleasure boats cruising along the Spree and the main mooring point was on the river bank opposite the Berliner Dom literally a stone’s throw from our hotel. They all seemed to be offering a similar tour – about an hour up and down the river so we hopped on board the first boat in the “taxi” queue and took our seats.



We had an entertaining guide who talked us through the sights in both German and English whilst we sat back with a couple of drinks admiring the view. We couldn’t have picked a better day – it was a glorious sunny spring afternoon with a gentle breeze. It’s a fascinating way to get a feel for the city and the contrasts and heritage of the place.

We started off back tracking towards what’s left of the old medieval heart of the town sailing past the Nikolaiviertel  (Nikolai Quarter) at a leisurely pace. I’ll be doing another post on this area in due course but for now by way of a preview some photos.


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We glided back to the bridge, passed the Berliner Dom to our left and caught sight of some of the museums, which make up the famous Museum Insel (Museum Island).



We sailed past the Government Buildings including the impressive Reichstag (see here for an earlier post about our visit there during our first Berlin trip). We also had a good view of Angela Merkel’s private balcony complete with greenery in case you are wondering why I zoomed in on a rather nondescript concrete office block!



Turning a bend in the river we had a stark reminder of Berlin’s divided past with the White Crosses Memorial (Weisse Kreuze) coming into view. This poignant tribute is located on the river bank near the Reichstag building as a memorial to those killed trying to flee into the west from the GDR. The white wooden crosses are marked with the names of 13 people killed, mainly between 1961 – 1965, and a further one is a tribute to the unknown victims.

The Spree marked the boundary between the eastern borough of Friedrichshain and the western Berlin one of Kreuzberg. Between 1949 and 1989 these two places, so close geographically, were a world apart from each other in a divided Berlin. Our guide told us with great sensitivity some harrowing stories of children falling into the river and no one being allowed to rescue them for fear of being shot at by the East German patrol guards. It was a sobering reminder of the contrasts and complexities of Berlin.



White Crosses Memorial Berlin Near Reichstag Building


On a happier note the sunshine had brought out many people enjoying a spot of sunbathing by the river. The pretty greenery of the Tiergarten came into view along with cafes lining the river and our guide turned his microphone off at this point (not that it had been intrusive) and let us enjoy the rest of the cruise at our leisure. Amongst other places of interest we came across the Haus der Kulturen den Welt (House of The World’s Cultures), which is Germany’s national centre for the promotion and discussion of international contemporary arts (housed in what was formerly called the Kongresshalle). All too soon we arrived back at our starting point. We had thoroughly enjoyed our jaunt along the Spree and disembarking headed off to enjoy some afternoon tea in the sun.



I’ll be continuing the Berlin series in the New Year. With Christmas approaching and our younger daughter, Mlle, arriving from London for a 3 week visit later today, the blog will have a mini hiatus. I’ll still be coming on here though from time to time and will try and post some “#justanotherdayinwa photos” as we’ll be going out and about a fair bit over the next few weeks. In the meantime wishing everyone a very happy Christmas and very best wishes for 2017! Thanks for reading Le Chic En Rose – I value the support and blogosphere community very much!




Copyright © 2016 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Hackescher Markt S Bahn Entrance Berlin

We’ve visited Berlin a couple of times in recent years – once in 2013 and the other earlier this year (Monsieur also made a day trip to East Berlin with his West German host family as part of a school exchange trip way back in 1978!). Both our recent trips were in spring, when the weather was pleasantly mild without being hot, the spring flowers were out and it was warm enough most of the time to enjoy the outdoor cafe lifestyle. It can get chilly at night though and quite windy so jackets and jumpers are still definitely needed!

I’ve done a few posts about Berlin before (see here, here and here) but I wanted to bring all my photos and stories together into a series. Obviously this is my personal insight into Berlin – there are so many aspects to such a fascinating place, which somehow has managed to survive terrible destruction and reinvent itself into the modern, eclectic and culturally diverse city of today.

It’s certainly not the prettiest of cities with so much building work going on (just as much as far was we could tell in 2016 as there was back in 2013). We had an interesting insight into this as we stayed both times at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Karl Liebkneckt Strasse, linked to the famous Unter den Linden by the bridge over the River Spree. On the other side of the street the former communist era palace has been ripped down and work is underway to reconstruct the Kaiser’s Palace with an original Baroque exterior albeit with some modifications. Estimated to be completed by September 2019, it will house the Humboldtsforum Museum and a congress complex.



Fernsehturm Berlin With Construction Work In Foreground

The Radisson Blu proved to be an excellent base situated right on the river front with its pretty walkways and cafes. Part of the vibrant Mitte district (straddling both the former west and east zones of the city), it is also near the Museuminsel (Museum Island) and the famous Alexanderplatz dominated by the iconic Fernsehturm (Television tower).



We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the stylish and modern Radisson Blu, which had a range of guests of all ages and nationalities, many of them appearing to be independent travellers like ourselves. The lobby has an amazing feature in the form of the AquaDom, the world’s largest freestanding cylindrical aquarium! You don’t have to be a hotel guest to visit it but we didn’t bother paying our discounted entrance fee to go in as we already had superb views of the fish, especially when we went up and down in the lifts.




With an excellent public transport system, Berlin is easy to get around. We mainly used the Hackescher Markt S Bahn station about a 10 minute walk away from our hotel. As well as the local overland trains we took from here, Hackescher Markt is also a major tram interchange with trams running down the Oranienburger Strasse and the old Jewish quarter towards Friedrichstrasse. The square in front of the station has become a popular hub with street performers entertaining the patrons of the many cafes and restaurants dotted round the perimeter. Even more so on our first trip, we found it easy to eat here at night as we just hopped off the train and had a meal before going back to the hotel.



Hackescher Markt is also the “East Berlin” meeting point for city walking tours (the western one is at the Zoologischer Garten Station). We did three walking tours with Original Berlin Walks during our first stay. I’d highly recommend at the very least their introductory tour, Discover Berlin, as this really helped us to get our bearings and work out what we wanted to explore further. All the guides were extremely knowledgeable, linguistically skilled and very entertaining. The ones we had were mostly PhD students who had a wonderful grasp and understanding of the history of the city and the political and social context. The exact meeting point was outside the Weihenstephaner Restaurant, which seemed to suit Monsieur very well!



Weihenstephaner Restaurant Berlin – Meeting Point For Original Berlin Walks

Next week we’ll go on a river tour along the Spree. In the meantime “Tschuess”!


Copyright © 2016 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved


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