Day 6: Friday, September 21

Aquariums, Beer Bikes & Gay History

We rose at about 8:00 and went down to breakfast in the hotel dining room.

After breakfast we left the hotel and caught the U-Bahn for our destination that morning: the Berlin Aquarium:

The Berlin Aquarium is part of the Berlin Zoo, located at Budapester Strasse 32. We toured all three floors (aquarium, reptiles, insects, tropical garden); a very pleasant visit in all:

Leaving the aquarium we made our way to Zoo Station (Bahnhof Berlin Zoologischer Garten) to seek out lunch. We wanted to eat somewhere close to Zoo Station as we were to meet our walking group there at 1:30 p.m. After much wandering in an attempt to find an acceptable restaurant of some kind (this is NOT a good area of Berlin to seek out a reputable restaurant!), we settled for the dreadful “Zoo Café” in the Zoo train station – YIKES! What a dismal lunch: no English menu, the waitress did not speak English and didn’t understand us so we received a salami sandwich with no salami! We both ordered the same thing and received two different bills with different amounts – strange. It was useless to quibble about the bill as our linguistic skills were not up to it.

After our disastrous lunch, we killed some more time by wandering down a few of the nearby side-streets, looking at shops and such. As we were walking, the Berlin Beer Bike went whipping past us:

We’d been seeing these vehicles numerous times while walking around Berlin. Basically, the idea of the Berlin Beer Bike is that you hop on, sit at a set of pedals, pay for your beers, and start drinking/pedalling your little heart out while touring around Berlin. They seemed to be very popular.

Finn Ballagh from Original Berlin Walks

At about 1:15 we headed back to the taxi stand at Zoo Station where we met our tour group for the 1:30 Queer Culture Tour Berlin walk from the walking tour company Original Berlin Walks. We met our amazing (and bearcub-like) host Finn Ballagh and the rest of our group (six guests plus Finn). What a great tour guide and tour! (a recent TripAdvisor review best described Finn as a quirky Irishman with a PhD., fluent in German). Our group spent about four and a half hours touring/walking the sights and gay interest points of Berlin:

Entering the Tiergarten
In Postsdamer Platz
Memorial plaque for Homosexual Victims of National Socialism at the Nollendorfplatz U-Bahn station
Memorial tiles embedded in the sidewalk. Each tile represents a person (gay or otherwise) who was exterminated in one of the Nazi death camps during WWII.
Christopher Isherwood’s house in Berlin

We finished up at the Prinz Eisenherz Buchladen gay bookshop at Lietzenburgerstrasse 9a; from there we parted company with Finn and the rest of our walking group.

It was almost 6:00 p.m. at this point and our stomachs were talking. During our walking tour of the gay district Finn had pointed out a restaurant called Elefant at Fuggerstrasse 18, which specialized in authentic Austrian-German cuisine. We returned there for one of the most fantastic meals we had while in Germany. Talk about piles of food!!  I had a heaping platter of Vienna schnitzel, which provided no end of gastronomic grief later that night (and beyond). I don’t know how the Germans manage their meat-heavy diet, but they do (the waiter had earlier warned me that this particular meal arrives in “German portions” – no kidding!). It was absolutely delicious at any rate.

After dinner we returned to the hotel for the usual uploading of pictures and journal updating. Very tired, so we had an early night.

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