Page Zwei (2): Berlin travel notes and photos

It looks worse than it is. 🙂

Above is a photo of the front door of the apartment in which we are staying in Berlin.

As we’ve said, the apartment is great.  Very spacious, clean and fairly well equipped.  It only looks scary from the outside.  Let that be a lesson to you...looks can be deceiving and don’t judge a book by it’s cover.  🙂

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Thursday, September 20:  We took the kids to the Berlin Zoo today.  Opened in 1834, it is one of the largest zoos in all of Europe.  I didn’t have any real expectations for the visit. I knew it would be good timing especially for Henry because we have spent the last two weeks discussing different animal classifications and now we are on to ecosystems.  The timing could not be better.

Even though some of the backdrops for the animals were large skyscrapers and construction sites, the zoo did not disappoint.  It was very well laid out, easy walking, fairly easy to navigate and had some great exhibits.  Some of the highlights of the zoo for us were:

  • Primate exhibit — terrific!
  • Underwater viewing of the hippos – very cool.
  • Very animated and (hungry) seals.
  • Nice cafeteria and beirgarten.
  • Mama Jaguar and family exhibit.  Terrific.
  • Huge playground for the kids.

Our first stop was the elephant exhibit – they had a little baby elephant. Probably half  a ton but so cute anyway.  🙂  Then we moved on through and happened on the Jaguar exhibit.

Mommy and baby Jaguar

Baby Jaguar

“Don’t mess with Mama!”

What beautiful animals!  It made me thrilled to see them so close and at the same time, sad that these beautiful animals were not running up and down the savannah doing what comes naturally. It started me thinking…

There are a few schools of thought on zoos:  One is that zoos are inhumane, not a natural environment for animals (I’d agree at times) and the animals become depressed and lethargic.  Others say that zoos are an opportunity to 1) further a species through propagation esp if the zoo has a successful breeding program and is 2) an effective means to educate people about species and their plight (often caused by man or the results of our over-population and spread).  After our trip to South Africa in 2002, I still have mixed feelings.

Regardless of what I think about zoos, the kids had an awesome time.  Aren’t these pictures telling enough?

Here’s a few cool photos of the hippos – even though we didn’t see them swimming under water because it was so murky they were still very cool.  BTW, did you know that the hippo kills more humans each year in the wild than any other animal?

Orangutan! Great primate exhibit.  I LOVE orangutans!

Here’s a crazy seal

Above is a super funny photo.  There were a bunch of seals who knew it was about feeding time (3:15 pm) and were getting very excited by swimming back and forth and sliding across the rocks, playing, etc.  One of the brazen seals who we think was the “Papa Sea Lion” actually jumped out of the water and onto the ledge to look into the window where the trainer usually feeds them.   He did this several times.  He was definitely trying to look through the window to see when his food was coming.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Berlin and we are planning on seeing the Pergamon Museum.  Photos and notes coming later.

Thanks for reading.  Miss you all.

Friday, September 21:  First and foremost, a big “Happy Birthday” to Rich – my brother in law and Henry and Elsa’s uncle!  Happy birthday Uncle Rich!

We finished up our last day in Berlin at the Pergamon Museum which is on Museum Island in the city center.

Pergamon Museum – photo by Elsa

Charlie and the kids

Hen at the Pergamon

Market Gate of Miletus dates from about 120 AD

The Ishtar Gate was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. It was constructed in about 575 BC!

A reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way is at the Pergamon Museum and was reconstructed out of material excavated by Robert Koldewey and finished in the 1930s. It includes the inscription plaque. It stands 47 feet high and 100 feet wide.

We also saw the Pergamon Altar which is a monumental construction built during the reign of King Eumenes II in the first half of the 2nd century BC on one of the terraces of the acropolis of the ancient city of Pergamon in Asia Minor.  Crazy to think it is that old.

The structure is 115 feet wide and 110 feet deep; the front stairway alone is almost 70 feet wide. The base is decorated with a frieze in high relief showing the battle between the Giants and the Olympian gods.   There is a second, smaller and less well-preserved high relief frieze on the inner court walls which surround the actual fire altar on the upper level of the structure at the top of the stairs. In a set of consecutive scenes, it depicts events from the life of Telephus, legendary founder of the city of Pergamon and son of the hero Heracles and Auge, one of Tegean king Aleus‘s daughters.  If you ever want to read a rather unusual story of the Greek Gods filled with all the twists and turns, read the story of Telephus.  It’s downright strange.  

Got back to the apartment, Charlie took the kids to the playground and I packed for myself, the kids and got all of the school stuff organized.  We then headed out to a nice final dinner here in Berlin about a block from the apartment . It was a great little Vietnamese place and we had a great meal and then headed to ice cream for desert.

Kids are in bed and we are off to sleep soon.  Tomorrow we leave for Prague.  Train is at 12:45.

Thanks for reading. Miss you all.

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