Thursday, August 22, 2013

Berlin and Polar Bears

Last weekend I had to go to Berlin because my visa expired and I needed to leave the country. I'm in the process of applying for a temporary stay card, but it's taken a lot longer than I had hoped!

Berlin is only a few hours away from where I go to school, so it's a real easy trip on the train. I decided that since it's summer and most of the stuff I want to see is outside to take Copper with me. Ironically his train ticket cost more than mine! But whatever, it was totally worth it.

On the way there the train was PACKED. I went to go sit down in my cabin and found that there were people in all of the seats except mine and that two of them were small children, which had me really worried. Copper is a big dog, he loves kids, but sometimes kids and parents don't like him too much. It didn't help that he had to wear a muzzle for the trip which he hates and it makes him look way more vicious than he actually is. There were a few times where he stood up and tried to move around when I thought the other people in the cabin were going to kill me for sure, but once he got settled down he was perfectly fine.

Once we got to Berlin we headed to the hotel, which at first I couldn't find despite being on the street where it said it was. It turns out I was standing directly in front of it, the sign was just so small I didn't notice it! Go me.

Since we arrived at about 1pm we had plenty of time to go see the city. First off I found an awesome statue of Robert Koch near my hotel. Call me an uber nerd, but a statue dedicated to the father of bacteriology is pretty cool in my book! Then we headed to the Brandenburg gate. I was really less than impressed with this. There were too many people, there were Egypt protesters blocking the view, and they were setting up for some sort of fair so it just made everything more packed. No offense, but protest all you want, just not in front of a huge tourist attraction that many people travel hundreds of miles to see.

From there we walked to the Reichstag that houses the German parliament. I have to say its is a pretty awesome looking building and excellent blend of old and new. If I hadn't had the dog with me I would have totally signed up to go check out the dome and get a tour of the inside. We sat there looking at it for a bit and a few people 'oohed' and 'awed' at Copper. Something about a German shepherd dog being in Germany I guess, but it seemed that a lot of people wanted to take his picture.

Once we were done with that we saw Schloss Bellevue- the presidents house which unlike the US White House does not have snipers on the roof, at least that I could see. (Ironically, my sister and I go into DC quite often as my dad lives very close and instead of really enjoying the sites we count the roof snipers...yeah I know we have issues). On the way we walked through the Tiergarten and saw the Bell Tower which might actually have a better tune than the Glockenspiel in Munich. And we also saw the Victory Tower complete with a girl pretending to be a swan and flapping her wings in slow motion. (I should have taken a picture).

The weather was getting a bit 'iffy' at this point so I decided to go try and find Check Point Charlie, eat, and head back to the hotel. Well, I never found it, but I did get to Museum Island and walked through a flea market. At this point it began to rain so I headed towards the hotel looking for a place with a covered outdoor eating area so I could eat with Copper. Luckily I found one and they even brought Copper out a bowl full of water. I love Germany.

The next day we got up early to check out of the hotel and head to the Tierpark Zoo in the former East Berlin. The west Berlin Zoo doesn't allow dogs and I've heard it's quite packed. So we took the U-bahn and the S-bahn out there and had a look around. My favorite bit was the Polar Bear which scared the dickens out of Copper at first which was hilarious (see the video below). He jumped back about five feet when the bear came out of the water to greet him. He also had a good time with the spotted hyena and the golden throated martens which ran up and down there enclosures playing with him. After a few hours there the torrential down pours ensued and we headed back to the Haufbahnhof and caught an early train home.  

Overall, not a bad trip for a quick two days! I love living in Europe!!! 

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