K-Nutting Around

Trip Start Apr 12, 2008
Trip End Jun 18, 2008

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Flag of Germany  ,
Friday, May 23, 2008

<Brian's brief chronological list of "highlights" (and of whinging)>
- Left Prague for Berlin. Managed to get to our accommodation called "Pension Peters" where we were greeted by the most happy flamboyant and friendly host Charlie we had ever met.
- Anyhoo... we went to our room and looked through the brochures to decide what we would do for the afternoon and we systematically chose what Berlin is most famous for... the Zoo... HAH! Heil K-Nut!!! So we spent our first afternoon in Berlin at the zoo... which was actually quite interesting... we saw our first panda, bears of all kinds and the "famous" Knut, an assortment of small cat-like animals that were eating dead mice, meercats digging worms up for food... baby rhino, baby hippo and a baby chimpanzee... all were cute as.
- After the zoo, we caught the bus down to the Reichstag... which is the parliament house here. It has a giant dome on top which you can climb to the toppish via a giant spiral staircase to get a commanding 360 degree view of the city. Had to wait 45 mins in line even though it was around 9pm already... but the view was pretty good. I of course failed the metal detector (no idea why honestly!... maybe the glasses?) and got searched by the guard... but was cleared in the end.
<Lang's Extended Version>
We woke up early this morning as we wanted to take the 8.36am train to Berlin. We would have liked to stay in Prague a day or two more, but since we already had our reservations, we had to move on.. Oh well, we'll be back again, I'm sure..
Before we left, we spent the last of our Czech crowns, just under 100 crowns worth on 2 coffees and an assortment of pastries from the local bakery at the station.. It was so cheap!!
So after about 5 hours on the train, we arrived in Berlin Hauptbahnhof, somewhat overwhelmed by the sheer size of the station. This huge glass building is the largest station in all of Europe and was only opened a couple years ago. We managed to find the Euraid counter to book our overnight train out in 3 days time as well as obtain a much needed map of the metro system and the city.
We made our way to our Pension via the metro and dumped our packs there before deciding to head to the Berlin Zoo of all places.. The promise of seeing a giant panda as well as Knut, or K-Nut as what Brian likes to call him, the worlds most famous polar bear was definitely more enticing than walking around aimlessly and reading from a guide book on our own..
So we paid our entrance fee and headed straight towards the giant panda enclosure, where we spotted Bao Bao sitting by a door eating.. Unfortunately he was not facing our direction, so we decided to come back later in the hope that he'll be a bit more active then..
Unlike the Alpine Zoo in Innsbruck, we could have spent a whole day here as there were so many different kinds of animals - so many that we had never seen before that it was totally worth spending the half day we had and even then we didn't see everything!
I totally loved the bears, baby rhino, hippo and chimpanzee - they were so cute and adorable.. As for Knut, he has pretty much grown into a full blown polar bear, so no longer the small adorable white fluffy bear you see in the pictures..
BTW, Bao Bao was a lot more active when we went back to see him at closing time.. He was walking around in circles in his enclosure waiting to be let into his sleeping quarters to call it a night.. That was so cool..
At 6pm, we had to reluctantly leave and grabbed a quick dinner of currywurst.. Since it was still early after, and we had to at least see some other parts of Berlin, we decided to take bus 100 and do a short sight-seeing tour, following Rick's guidebook.
This took us past the Victory Column and to Reichstag, the parliament building of Germany. The Reichstag was almost burnt down in 1933, and it was believed that Hitler used this as an excuse to frame the Communists and grab power. It was later rebuilt and for its 101st birthday in 1995, a glass cupola was built on top where you can get a great view over Berlin. So we waited in line and after 45 minutes, we were inside the building and on our way to the top. By this stage, the sun was slowly setting on the horizon, so it was just a perfect way to end the night..
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