Friday, October 01, 2004

Berlin, Germany—Day 244

Today we woke up and headed upstairs to the breakfast area of the hotel (a novelty—usually you find the reception and restaurant on the bottom floor but in this case we had to head upstairs). We had breakfast (really should be considered “brunch” based on the hour that we usually get up to eat) and amused ourselves by commenting on the blatantly hung over group that followed us into breakfast.

We then got our things and checked out of the hotel and dragged our stuff to the U-Bahn to head over to our apartment. When I say dragged, I really do mean it. My stuff has, by some force beyond nature, seemed to become heavier and heavier as this trip goes on. While one might assume that it is because I have been adding more things to my suitcase (which I won’t necessarily deny, but at this point there is no more room for anything else), I am having a hard time walking long distances without switching my luggage from one hand to the next—a move that Elizabeth finds most amusing. Every several hundred feet or so I have to do a quick stop, arm shake and resume pulling my load with the other hand.

Then there are stairs! Dragging my luggage up and down stairs is definitely a workout. I go between feeling really tough at the bottom of the stairs, confident that carrying everything up 50 stairs is a piece of cake to feeling like I am the biggest weakling on earth when I get to the top.

Anyways, we made it to the apartment, dropped off our stuff, and headed back towards the zoo (and the hotel we just left). We stopped at an AMAZING Italian café on the way and had just about the best raviolis you could ever imagine outside of Italy. The guy who owned the shop was quite enthusiastic to talk to us and we asked him if he had any sons we could marry so that they could cook for us, but he didn’t really get our joke. 

We knew from the Berlin zoo’s website that the hippos are fed at 2:15 and when we showed up, we found that to be just the case.

We found Bulette, Kathi, Nino, Ede and Nicole in the indoor enclosure, awaiting being fed. The baby Nino was standing up a concrete platform along side Bulette (who is quite an old lady for a hippos, born in 1952) who was lying on the platform making quite the photo. I was happy and clicked away while Elizabeth commented on how cute the baby was. She was pretty excited to see a baby hippo.

Soon the feeding time began but started off with a big jet of water coming on above our heads, spraying into the hippos. Almost like someone was putting out a fire, but spraying the hippos with the water. The stream moved back and forth and was washing all of the hippo dung off of the platform. The hippos clearly enjoyed the water and would open their mouths to drink it up. It was quite the site, especially when Nino opened up his little mouth.

Needless to say, there was much oohhing and ahhing from the spectators. After the water was turned off, the keeper above us (we could not see them) began chucking loaves of bread into the water which of course the hippos swam after. Ede, the huge male, sat there with his mouth open and eagerly awaited being tossed the food, which would often land either in his mouth or land on his nose which was very funny. I snapped away and had to push several people out of my way.

I haven’t quite learned what “sorry, its my job” is in German, but the whole smiling and then pushing with my elbows effect seems to work universally.

Once the feeding was done the crowds dispersed and after a while, Elizabeth and I left too. WE checked around back to see if the hippos made it outside (they all headed to the back of the enclosure sort of out of sight which made us think there was an outdoor area that they went to) but we were unable to find them outside.

We then headed out of the zoo and headed to the Hackescher Markt area of Berlin where we did some shopping and sat in a café, then walked over to Friedrichstrasse where we found an English language bookstore and I was able to get another guidebook as I lost mine a few days ago in Hamburg. We then met up with Elizabeth’s friend Nina who lives in the Shöenberg area of Berlin, along with my friend Katharina (who also lives in Berlin whom I met in Toledo, Ohio this summer) and along with Nina’s friends Charlotta and Fabi, we headed out to a party, only finding out when we got there that none of us really knew whose party is was, and the whole time we were there we never figured out who really lived there.

The party was fun of course and we had quite a discussion about locusts…