Tag Archives: Germany

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.

Awesome Aachen – Part 3

Can you imagine that we spend a day in a very beautiful place without taking any pictures? That is simply because we were in an environment that didn’t allow any cameras: the Carolus Thermen in Aachen.

What is awaiting you in this paradise? 3 thermal pools (1 inside, 2 outside), 15 saunas (dry and wet) and 3 restaurants! To be honest, it’s not cheap, but it is worth the money, certainly if you are looking for some luxurious relaxation.

After you have changed to swimming gear, enter the beautiful thermal pool, surrounded by 18 columns, take a dip in the warm water grotto and venture into one of the outdoor pools. Go two levels up, take off all your clothes and you are in sauna paradise.

Lars had never been to a sauna before and found the heat to be oppressive. He felt a lot better in the Oriental World of Baths (one floor down) with its hammam and steam baths, which quickly became our favourite place. At the end of the afternoon Lars and I had a snack in Bella Vista, one of the restaurants.

For more information and pictures, have a look at their website! Or have a look at this trailer:

 

Awesome Aachen – Part 2

After the candy shop, something else caught our attention: a group of statues near the Elisenbrunnen.

And it kept on raining and raining on our way to the town hall.

Located opposite the cathedral, the history of the town hall goes back to the 14th century. It is one of the landmarks of Aachen.

We had become hungry again and stopped at a shop called Klein where they sold “printen”, the local delicacy. These are actually biscuits, made from three kinds of dark sugar, dark flour and exotic spices. When the dough starts to bake, the sugars caramelise, giving the biscuits a hard texture. The taste resembles that of “speculaas”, a kind of candy, which is popular in Belgium.

Having been around since the 16th – 17th century, the “printen” comes in a lot of varieties. The shop of Klein makes them all by hand and believe they originate from … Belgium!

Lars and I chose a hard variant with almond and two soft variants, covered with hazelnuts and black and white chocolate. Most of these have found their way to our stomach in the meantime!

If you want to know more about this delicacy, have a look at their website.

Afterwards, we went to have a drink in a bar and sought refuge from the rain in our hotel.

Stay tuned for part 3!

Awesome Aachen – Part 1

After a 2-hour drive, Lars and I arrived in Aachen last Monday. After a bit of rest in our hotel, we went to the centre of town, to have some dinner. We chose a restaurant quite close to the Aachen Cathedral, called Rose am Dom.

We felt quite at home in the rustic but cosy interior. The menu features mainly regional specialties, which are reasonably priced.

I have to admit that don’t like pork, but I will make an exception for a well-prepared schnitzel, which is fried breaded pork filet. Lars, on the other hand, went for a Wienerschnitzel, which is fried breaded pork or veal filet, traditionally served with lemon and anchovy.

It was still raining when we left the restaurant and the somber clouds didn’t predict any good weather.

We first visited one of Aachen’s most important landmarks, Aachen Cathedral.

This was actually the first site in Germany to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. According to Wikipedia,

Aachen Cathedral (German: Aachener Dom), traditionally known in English as the Cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle, is a Roman Catholic church in Aachen, western Germany. It is the oldest cathedral in northern Europe and was constructed by order of the emperor Charlemagne, who was buried there after his death in 814. For 595 years, from 936 to 1531, the Aachen chapel was the church of coronation for thirty German kings and twelve queens. The church has been the mother church of the Diocese of Aachen since 1802.[1]

The Palatine Chapel has the shape of an octagon and its decorations are breathtaking.

It was our first visit to this cathedral; Lars had never been to Aachen before and I had only visited its Christmas market. We are so happy that we could finally admire this astonishing piece of religious architecture.

Finally, we were back outside, where it was still wet and gloomy.

If you like exploring religious buildings, the nearby Pfarrkirche is also worth a visit, although it lacks the grandeur of its bigger neighbour.

A nearby candy-shop caught our eye…

The shop specialises in the so-called “printen”, a local delicacy, we will talk about in the next part!