Saturday, 21 July 2012

Touching Nemo's cousins

We took a little trip to Berlin Zoo's aquarium yesterday. There are two aquariums in Berlin: one attached to the Zoo, and the Sealife Centre, which is near Museum Island in Mitte. We've been to both a few times, and both have their merits. The Zoo aquarium is much cheaper than the Sealife Centre especially when you lie about your kids ages. I should be paying for Orla now that she's turned 5, but given that the German kids don't believe she's tall enough for her age, I figure we might as well make the most of it. I just have to make sure the kids are out of earshot when I lie about their ages, or they'll land me in it.

Anyway, as a result we get in for 6 Euros as I have a Jahreskarte for the Zoo and thus you get a discount. We have been to the aquarium many times before. We have worked out a set route around the place. Once through the turnstile we make for the coy carp pool. Germans are awfully keen on touching animals and penguins and fish and stuff. Over the course of the past two years I have become less horrified and disgusted by this. I just can't help but think that my two will swish their hands around, pick up some vile bacterial illness, and then suck their fingers clean before I get a chance to antibacterially boil wash them. Because unlike in the UK, you don't find 'hand-sanitising units' right next to the dirty animals. You are expected to just take your dirty animals to the toilets which could be up to a kilometre away.  

Once we've finished with the coy carp we go searching for Nemo. That is all they want to do. Usually we can find him straight away, along with his dad, and his little friends. The aquarium have upped their game though and this time, we couldn't find Nemo. He must be there somewhere, but we gave up on that game as the other thing we like to do is dash round the whole place in as little time as possible, ticking off all our favourites, but barely stopping long enough to even find out what some of the fish are called. After all there's an ice cream vending machine upstairs that's going to require a hell of a lot of begging and whining.

We all like the jellyfish. They keep a bunch of them in a tube shaped tank near the front beside the lift. They light it brilliantly so that they all glow as they pulse around in the water. At the moment this tank is full of teeny tiny ones, and the bigger ones are further along as you walk along towards the ugly fish and the shark in the tanks at the end. The shark is pretty amazing to see. I imagine he's bored out of his brain, but it's great to be up against a full height tank and have him sweep past your face. 

Upstairs, the whining and the moaning starts about the ice cream machine, but we manage to offset this by reminding them that they've got crocodiles to see first. On this floor there is a central atrium bit that is climate controlled. You enter on either side via glass doors and stand and look down from a bridge on the crocodiles and turtles. I saw the above photo in there and was quite relieved that times have changed and the  crocodiles have less opportunity to interact with the visitors nowadays. Perhaps a few German children got a bit too enthusiastic with touching the animals.

There's another floor above where the crocodiles and turtles and snakes are that has all sorts of creepy crawlies and frogs and things. But given the desperation for ice cream and the fact that I have no change for the machine we decide to make a hasty exit and head for Wittenburg Platz to an ice cream cafe. I love the stained glass windows on the landing, and I love the ceramic border featuring fish and crustaceans on the other staircase. They are almost worth a visit on their own.

Fish: Seriously, how long until the schools go back???

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