Oct 16, 2018

The Berlin Diaries #9: Meanwhile in Sydney and The Berlin Zoo.

I've been home a week and, as usual, it's almost as if I've never been away.  'Endured' those long fights.  Spent that indulgent week in that hotel.  Rode the U and S Bahns up, down and across Berlin.  Absorbed all that history with every fibre of my being.  Saw all that beauty with my eyes and through my camera.

Life has been work pretty much 24/7 since Friday which has put me in a sleep deprivation mode.  I've also been trying to lick the last dregs of the jetlag that seems to be my destiny whenever I fly home from someplace that isn't South East Asia or the US.

The most exciting thing I've purchased recently has been this set of Jamie Oliver cutlery because I've managed to lose the set I've had in my office for the last 8 years.  I was a bit sad to be moving on cutlery wise, that set of stainless steel had seen me through so many ups and downs in life and were a reassuring presence in their well-loved familiarity at every desk lunch I've had in recent memory.

Speaking of work lunches, how disappointing is it when you've been head down tails up since 8am and settle down to lunch 6 hours later to find that your fancy cheese and (spring) onion (organic Thai Jasmine) rice crackers are a complete gustatory disappointment.  What's the point of rice crackers if they don't come caked in powdered flavouring and crunch like crisps?  The beetroot hummus was good though.

A less disappointing superfood find from my week has been the Instagram friendly acai bowl.  I had mine with mueslis and fresh fruit.  I didn't realise how sweet acai could be and I'm a confirmed sweet tooth.  I've managed to convince myself that an acai bowl is the healthy alternative to my usual almond croissant.  Look forward to many, many more photos of acai bowls on my Instagram feed in coming weeks....

But back to Berlin.  I've almost lost my holiday glow thanks to the weather and work but not quite.  I still have two instalments of my Berlin Diaries to share with you so let's go.

The Berlin Zoological Garden is Germany's oldest zoo.  It was opened in 1844 and is 35 acres big.  It's a short walk from its eponymous train station and is located in the Tiergarten.

The zoo was fascinating to me because of the diversity of its enclosures.  The weather was perfect for my visit (Sydney, lift your game because Berlin is showing you how it's done at the moment).

I was a bit cynical thinking that if you've seen one zoo, you've seen them all and that no zoo can beat Taronga anyway.  But I was wrong.  Berlin's zoo is just beautiful to stroll through on a sunny day.

I was very taken with the penguin enclosure.

The elephants have a large compound in front of a cottage.

The gardens and lake in the middle of the zoo can be enjoyed both on foot and from the verandah of the main restaurant and cafe.

It was a bit of a jolt seeing the giraffes without the stunning harbour views they enjoy in Sydney.  They still looked very content in Berlin regardless.

There was one playground at the zoo which Tigger found for me.

My favourite sight of the day was the flamingoes in all the pink fabulousness.

No visit to a major zoo is complete without a stop at its gift store on the way home.  I picked up this Eric Carle fold out book for several youngsters back home.  The art of Carle, zoo animals and numbers are universal languages of childhoos.

Oct 15, 2018

Life This Week 15/10/2018: What I Have Learned Lately.

I've just come off a couple of weeks' leave and in between the travel, the break from routine and the family time, I've found myself relearning a few truths about life.

Always look up.  Aim for the sky and its stars.  Never look down on anyone but also never let anyone else drag you down with them.

Actively find those special moments in the day.  The ones that are just yours.  Take them in with all your sense.  Imprint them on your brain.

Never let the opportunity to be a tourist in your own city pass you by.  I went to Madame Tussaud's with Master SSG last week and we had a blast.  I got my fix of Kate and Wills as well as Amanda Keller.

Shame my selfies with T Swift and Audrey H didn't quite turn out.

Never be afraid to imagine and believe.

It's best to be just who you are and pale imitation of your true self.  Wear those Havs to breakfast at your 5 star hotel if you want need to.

Something that is as important as being kind to yourself is giving yourself credit where its due.  Not necessarily by building yourself a gold embellished Victory Tower and creating a magnificent park around it but perhaps just a pat on the back plus or minus a glass of celebratory something.

It wasn't just luck and it wasn't just the people around you.  It was you who made it happen.  Acknowledge this and accept the rewards unapologetically.

What have you learned or relearned about life lately?

Oct 12, 2018

The Berlin Diaries #8: Deutscher Bundestag.

It has literally been raining on my post-trip parade.  All day in fact.

In a desperate bid to stave off cabin fever, we've just returned from a scheduled walk in gumboots up to the shops and back.  There were quite a few decent puddles to stomp through as well which was a bonus. 

Many rounds of Jenga have been played and various things have been created from old boxes, packaging tape and coloured craft paper.  The school holidays are ending soon and I'm back at work on for the weekend.  So no pressure. what's left of this week, but could you give us some sun soon?  Thank you.

In the meantime, here's a bit more from Berlin.

One of the surprise highlights of Berlin was our visit to the Reichstag Building which houses the German Bundestag. 

As with all houses of parliament, security is intense but it was also friendly and well organized.  I have my friend to thank for booking our guided tour well in advance.  You can use this website  which is very informative.  The tours (guided and audio tour of the dome) are both free and in my opinion excellent.

The Reichstag was used from 1894 until 1933 to house the Diet. The building was set on fire at about this time and fell into decay and disuse.  From that time, the parliament of the German Democratic Republic sat in East Berlin while that of the Federal  Republic (Bundestag) sat in the Bundeshaus in Bonn.

After reunification, the Reichstag Building was restored and reconstructed by the architect Norman Foster.  The Reichstag reopened as the location for the meetings of the modern Bundestag in 1999.

If you look out from the windows of the Reichstag you can see pavement squares which mark where parts of the Berlin Wall were.

Our guided tour was a comprehensive look at both the history of Germany's parliamentary system as well as an insight into how sittings are conducted in the modern era.

The buildings themselves are simple and let in lots of natural light while still retaining some of the historical elements of the original Reichstag.

The Reichstag building was created for the people and their elected politicians to come together in a place of transparency.

There are seats for both the press and the public to sit in so that they may observe the entire parliamentary process.  The results of all votes are posted online and many sittings are broadcast live to the public.

Angela Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany but the former leader of the CDU/CSU group in the Bundestag.

This is one of the rooms where all elected politicians are meant to sign in for each day that parliament sits.

After our tour, we took a lift to the roof and braved the wind and rain to make for the entrance to the Reichstag dome which offers a 360 degree view of Berlin.

The mechanics of the dome are complex and besides being visually stunning, its mirrors and windows also serve to create energy from the elements.

The centre of the dome is entirely exposed to the elements to represent the exposure / transparency of all who work within the building as the represent the electorate outside it.

A gently sloping walkway hugs the inside of the dome.

The audio tour even has moments for you to pause and turn so that you can fully appreciate each landmark in the view as it is discussed.

It was a very informative and enjoyable way to learn about the German parliamentary process.  We had such a tight sightseeing schedule that I'm glad that I decided to walk the dome of the Reichstag rather than trying to battle the crowds for the view from the top of the TV Tower.


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