Anybody who knows Marty knows how much he loves zoos. For those of you who don’t know Marty, he frigging LOVES ZOOS. Marty loves Zoos so much that he went interrailing when we were at university and was looking forward to it as a zoo crawl around Europe. To his disappointment, he didn’t get to visit one single zoo when he was there. To make up for this we decided that our first full day in Berlin would be spent at one of the most famous and highly recommended zoos (and Aquariums) in the world. Read on to find out how we got on.
The night before Marty was intent on enforcing a strict up at 7am so we can be at the zoo as soon as it opens and stay until it closes at 6pm. Needless to say this did not happen. At around 10:30 we careered towards Alexanderplatz to buy our Berlin Pass travel tickets for the duration of our stay which not only covered our transport costs but also got us a 20% discount when we arrived at the zoo. When Marty paid for his ticket for admission to the zoo however he almost got away with a 100% discount. The lady on the ticketing desk was having a rough day (maybe she had been out the night before, or maybe Maths isn’t her strongest subject), because when she gave Marty his ticket she returned the full twenty euro note to him as well. Marty being the honest soul that he is, asked if she had made a mistake and she corrected the error. Or so she thought. I was next to pay and while she managed to charge me the full amount, she asked if Marty was a companion of mine and to ask him to come back, she had made yet another mistake with his ticket, she had given him too much change. Again! That was grand, Marty returned and she corrected her second mistake, we were all paid in and entered the zoo, only to realise that she had indeed given him the wrong change for a third time. How she still has a job there, we’ll never know.
Excitement for the animals was building, well it was with Marty at least as he shrieked shrill screams and exclaimed how cute every animal was. I never associated the word cute with the likes of hippos and camels before, but Marty is the zoo expert and I know to trust him on this. We wandered around the zoo taking in some animals that I had never seen, or seen so close up before. The highlights for me were definitely the polar bears and the hippos. Marty professed that he had achieved a lifetime ambition when he witnessed bonobo chimps for the first time and Romano’s favourite animal resembled a domestic cat.
We managed to miss every feeding time despite being in search of each one at least fifteen minutes in advance. There was a comical encounter with Marty and one of the zoo staff who was taking a group of young children around. Marty interrupted her session to ask if she knew when the Orangutans enclosure was. She seemed very offended by what she considered bad manners and asked him to wait one moment. Marty was growing impatient as she continued her class and he interjected again. She told him that she didn’t know where the enclosure was, which given that she was a zoo employee and that the enclosure was just around the corner, was a bare faced lie.
It was getting to that stage in the day when our tummies were dictating that we stop for lunch. We had packed our wheaten bread, cheese and cured meats that we had bought the night before in the health food shop. We sat down on some picnic tables to enjoy our food, but were plagued by a murder of crows. The annoying harem of birds squawked for the entirety of our meal and at times descended on scraps of food around us in a scene not unlike the Hitchcock movie ‘The Birds’, or as Marty mused ‘what’s that film about the birds that starting killing people?’.
Lunch was followed by some ice cream/lollies. Marty polished off a cornetto, Romano gave up on his cola flavoured Calippo throwing it in the bin and I enjoyed a multi flavoured ice lolly in the shape of a closed hand with one finger sticking out. I of course pretended to pick my nose with it because that’s how mature I am.
Talking of being totally mature, Marty was determined to pick up a zoovenir. He made his way to the Zoo shop to pick up a stuffed animal. He has literally no room in his suitcase so it may be an emotional farewell when it comes to packing to fly for Vienna on Wednesday morning.
He opted for an Orangutan, pictured above. As of yet, he doesn’t have a name because the woman in the shop wasn’t able to recall any of the names of the Orangutan living in the zoo. Any suggestions you may have are welcome.
As part of our combo ticket, we were also able to visit the Aquarium. The Aquarium was made up of three floors and housed my three least favourite classes of animals; fish, reptiles and insects. The fish were either boring or creepy. There were some very large over-sized fish with elongated faces and protruding noses or teeth that looked really creepy. The only interesting specimen was the jellyfish who danced around their tank in an almost hypnotic rhythm. Then there were creepy reptiles and insects- massive anacondas that had clearly just eating an enormous feed, a few crocs and some turtles.
Most devastating of all was the lack of pandas. The famous panda, nay animal from Berlin Zoo is Bao Bao the panda, who unfortunately died in 2012. The enclosure that Bao Bao was kept in remains empty. This meant we had some extra time to kill and Marty insisted that we return to see some of his favourite animals that he’d like to see again. We agreed so long as they were on the way to the exit (he had wanted us to go all the way back to the monkeys) but he settled for seeing the hippos again. This also gave us the opportunity to pose on the bronze hippos, which we couldn’t do the first time round because they were being hogged by little annoying yappy kids.
Tomorrow we will head out on a free walking tour of Berlin that will take in key sights like the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, the site of Hitler’s Bunker and Check point Charlie. We are also contemplating doing an East Berlin Pub crawl. Be sure to check in with us again tomorrow to see how we got on. You’ve been warned though.