Tag Archives: Berlin

Where Knut Was Once at Home

Remember Knut? He was the cute polar bear, born in the Berlin Zoological Garden, who was rejected by his mother and afterwards raised by his keepers. Knut became a huge attraction, but unfortunately passed away five years later.

Anyway, you guessed it: Lars and I paid a visit to the Berlin Zoological Garden.

Berlin Zoological Garden

It was quite clear from the beginning that some animals do not fear heights, whereas others preferred to keep a low profile.

The Berlin Zoological Garden is the oldest and most popular zoo in Germany.

And it has one of the biggest animal collections of the world.

You can even pet some farm animals, which is fun for small and big kids.

The Berlin Zoological Garden opened in 1844 and currently covers 35 ha.

Lars and I are big fans of these animals: elephants and giraffes.

And then… we felt so sorry for this fellow…

Berlin Zoological Garden

But nothing prepared us for this: the majestic silverback gorilla. Enjoying his lunch…

The colourful orangutans were quite photogenic as well.

Although it was very cold outside, these monkeys did not seem to mind it at all.

The aquarium – for which you have to pay extra – was our last stop. It doesn’t only house creatures from the sea, but also reptiles (which we did not visit, since Lars hates them).

A Gloomy New Year’s Day in Berlin

If you read our post about Dinant, you know that not every trip or excursion is successful. To be honest, our visit to Dinant was not a huge success due to bad planning from my side and simple bad luck. Well, a lot of bad luck.

On New Year’s Day, Lars and I first decided to sleep in. We got up around 11am and had brunch. Since 1 January is a public holiday, we had limited options for an excursion. A visit to a museum for example was therefore out of the question. Since we stayed close to the Greater and Little Wannsee, we thought it would be a nice idea to go to one of the beaches.

Our hotel was located right next to the Berlin-Wannsee train station and the nearest beach was just one stop away. How convenient! And according to our travel guide, the beach was located quite close to the station. Dark clouds had gathered above Berlin though and when we arrived in the Nikolassee station, it started to rain. A lot.

Our first reaction was to wait. After 10 minutes, curiosity  took over and we ventured outside. And after less than 5 minutes in the pouring rain, we were completely soaked. Moreover, the beach was a lot further away than mentioned in our guide. We turned around and took the first train back. Of course, when we were back at the hotel the rain stopped.

After Lars and I had changed clothes, we decided to go to the nearby small harbour. Not exactly the same thing as a beach, but still a great place to photograph waterscapes. When we arrived there, we noticed that the ground was littered with empty bottles and used firecrackers and fireworks. The whole scene looked gloomy and desolate.

And after the last picture… the rain was back. I think it was a sign from above telling us that it was time to have a nice beer. Which is exactly what we did.

A Sunny Afternoon in the Botanical Garden of Berlin

As you all know by now, Lars and I like to spend the end of the year abroad. This time we chose one of our favourite cities, which is Berlin.

The first day – 31 December 2016 – was a sunny and cold one. Obviously, we decided to spend that day outside and since we were not far away from the Botanical Garden, this spot became our logical choice.

The gardens are not located in the centre of Berlin, but rather in the area of Steglitz-Zehlendorf, It is easily accessible via public transport and the entrance fee is quite small. The Botanical Garden covers about 13 ha and contains amongst others an arboretum, a museum, a small cemetery and several greenhouses.

The staff of our hotel had told us to check out the cute Christmas market at the Garden. Unfortunately, the event had ended before our visit and we could just see some empty stalls.

Anyway, Lars and I had become hungry and thirsty. We quickly found a cafeteria and ordered soup with potatoes and sausages and a beer.

The idea behind the Botanical Garden dates from the 16th century; the current garden was established at the end of the 19th century.

The cafeteria was conveniently located right next to the greenhouses. There are several of them and most of them are connected to each other.

There are greenhouses that feature cacti and others orchids, carnivorous plants and water lilies. (source: Wikipedia)

If you love nature, and especially plants and flowers, we highly recommend this place. This was our last excursion of 2016 and one of the highlights of that year.

Berliner Philharmonie

Before we left Berlin, Lars wanted to have a look at the Berliner Philharmonie. It’s situated in the Herbert-von-Karajan-Strasse.

I had expected an old building, so I was in for a bit of a surprise. The Berliner Philharmonie, which was built in the beginning of the sixties, is famous for its architecture and acoustics. Its most striking feature is its yellow roof. The building is part of a neighborhood, which is called the Kulturforum and contains two concert halls.

The Lion and The Harbor

As the morning progressed, the weather got sunnier and especially warmer. So, we had the perfect excuse to go to the waterside! Lars and I went to the Wannsee.

The Wannsee actually consists of 2 lakes, the Little Wannsee and the Greater Wannsee and is situated in the southwest of Berlin. It is a very popular local bathing area with a big beach. This time, it took us a longer time to find a place to park the car.

Once Lars and I got out of the car, we went to the waterside. Our attention was immediately attracted by the statue of a lion. Not just any lion, because this is the Isted Lion, a war monument to celebrate the Danish victory over Schleswig-Holstein. This victory was obtained in the Battle of Isted (1850), hence the name of the statue. Originally, the monument was located in Flensburg, afterwards in Berlin and after World War II, it went to Copenhagen. The statue you see here is therefore a copy.

We were a bit excited by this unexpected piece of Danish history, but soon had a look at the small harbor, located a couple of meters beneath us. Pubs and restaurants were getting ready to receive their first customers. People were jogging or having a stroll.

The Palace of No Worries

Normally, Lars and I don’t visit touristic places. First of all, there are lots of blogs and websites dedicated to these and second, we are more attracted to off the beaten track places. It’s the goal of our blog. But there are exceptions to this rule, simply because some of these spots are too beautiful. Sanssouci certainly belongs to this category.

The palace is easy to find, not only because it’s a big complex, but also because there are lots of road-signs towards it! There are parking places nearby, put you have to pay.

The name’ Sanssouci’ literally means ‘without worries’. It was built for Frederick the Great in the 18th century. The Prussian king wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle at the court in Berlin. At Sanssouci, his summer palace, he apparently found the necessary peace and quiet. Afterwards, in the 19th century, Frederick William IV had the place restored and enlarged.

Sanssouci was built in the Rococo style and is more than a palace. There are parks, temples and statues as well. Frederick the Great chose this style, because he wanted the place to stand for relaxation and not as a seat of power. It nowadays is included on the World Heritage List of Unesco.

As you can imagine, I took a lot of pictures! Because we were there so early, there were almost no people around and the light was just perfect.

Potsdam – A First Look

I have to admit that before I met Lars, my geographical knowledge about Germany was very limited. I knew about and had visited Aachen and Köln, probably because they are located so close to Belgium and they can be easily reached by train. But that was about it.

One of the reasons of this limited knowledge is the fact that while I still traveled with my parents, we always went south. Spain was one of our favorites and Portugal as well. But we never went to Germany. I am not sure why. Was it because of World War II? Or did they think it was a boring country? And when I traveled solo or with friends, I usually stuck to the 2 cities mentioned above. So if you had asked me 5 years ago where Potsdam was situated, I wouldn’t have had a clue.

As you can see on the map, it is located about 20 kilometers from Berlin. What makes Potsdam so interesting is that it is surrounded by lakes that are connected with each other. And the cultural monuments and buildings! The main tourist attraction are the parks and palaces of Sanssouci.

If you have been following this blog for some time, you know that Lars and I don’t like crowded places. Although we had left Belgium on Friday 12 July and had had a long drive, we decided to get up very early the day afterwards so as to avoid the masses.

And these were my first impressions of Potsdam. Did I like it? Yes! Would I like to go back? Yes! We still have a lot more exploring to do!