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Berlin, Germany

March 22nd, 2010 Comments off

Berlin was mostly a wash. After foolishly deciding to walk the three kilometres to the Zoo-Aquarium, my ankle flared up, and two days of rain and the need to shop for toiletries and do washing reduced our already low enthusiasm to near zero. Before sitting on the Internet and drinking beer for two days, we did see the Natural History museum.

It’s worth mentioning that the Museum was bombed in the second world war, and is slowly being put back together. It wasn’t clear when, but either reconstruction started fairly recently, or it’s a been a rate of work that I last experienced at midday in Samoa. The sections that were up and running are fantastic, and the windows into the large blocked off showed an incredible number of potential exhibits and space to show them. The five euro entry fee was not onerous though, and the front hall exhibit with the dinosaur skeletons alone made it worth the price of admission. The Hominoid Evolution exhibt was fantastic for getting a sense of human ancestors and distant cousins. Being a urbanite, I don’t often have a real sense of scale of the size of animals. With the exception of sheep, cows, cats and dogs, I simply don’t have that contact. Even at the zoo, animals are in cages, several metres away. The museums Evolution in Action exhibt helped bridge that gap. There’s an entire hall with stuff or reconstructions of dozens species of what I will call goats (it might be the genus Capra. The sheer variety of evolutionary adapations within a single form was fascinating.

Also, it worth checking out the universe movie. Those familiar with the essentials of stellar evolution won’t learning anything, but it’s all of ten minutes long. You lie down on a circular couch, and a circular screen three floors up is lowered down, displaying evolution of the universe, starting with big bang, and eventually down a google maps-esque zoom in to the museum. It then zooms out through the solar system, then the galaxy, then the local group, and our galactic cluster, then the super cluster… well you get the idea. It’s very humbling.

So how was Berlin in general? If you’re eighteen and want to party, it’s great. Otherwise, it’s probably worth going to Checkpoint Charlie to see the few remains of the Berlin wall. There’s a good collection of museums and so on, but frankly, any history earlier than World War Two was bombed during the same. I would recommend two days, tops. It’s probably not a bad place to live, from the little I saw of it, and the two pubs we visited were nice. From an English speaking point of view, everyone you need to will speak at least enough English for you to get by.

“Free Wifi in the Lobby.”

Apparently I look German. Aaron will dispute this. On more than a few occasions, I would start speaking in English, and get German in response. Americans did this to me as well. This would explain the above phrase turning up in the middle of an introductory speech given by the hostel staff to a group of German school children. It would seem that the Germans borrow just as many words from other languages as English-primary speakers do.