Museum of Natural History

Every kid in Berlin can tell you that the Natural History Museum here is famous for its dinosaurs. And they are certainly the biggest creatures on display, but there are many others. The museum owns more than 30 million objects.

For Berliners the replicas of zoo animals are quite interesting too, but most tourists indeed come for the dinosaurs. We took some friends recently, so I will dedicate the first post to those big and extinct creatures as well – and all children (and other experts) may excuse the mistakes I make in naming them…

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The one in the foreground is a diplodocus and the one with  the extra long neck in the background is a brachiosaur. This is the biggest erected skeleton of a dinosaur worldwide; it’s 13.72m (ca 15 yards) high.

And this is Ellie next to one of its feet.

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Another display in the big are different raptors…

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… but I am afraid I don’t remember the names. I think one is an elaphrosaur and maybe an allosaur… (or was that the third one that’s not in the picture)?

For more information on the museum please check their page at http://www.naturkundemuseum-berlin.de/en/

And for more pictures of other animals and objects please stay tuned here.

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I took this picture a while ago with a post in mind.

Houses

Now, I cannot decide what would work better…?

– We are family

– Size matters

– When I grow up I wanna be a real house

– ???

Solar eclipse

Getting ready to watch the solar eclipse today. Everybody around me is telling stories about the total eclipse in 1999. My friend and a carload of her friends drove to Metz in France to be deep in the area of 100% darkness and says it was amazing. Berlin only gets about 75% today. We’ll see how that compares, but I am excited! Solar1 Be careful with your eyes when watching it too.

9:50 The first glimps while waiting for the underground – at an above ground station.
The weather is perfect! The sun’s so bright that you would almost notice that something is going on without knowing what exactly. It must have been really disturbing in earlier times when the sun slowly but surely became dark. And twenty minutes into our shade here you can already see a dark spot where the shadow of the moon is moving in.
It felt a bit strange to put the special glasses on. Nobody else seems to have them (or even care about this phenomenon), but protection is important.

10:20 The sun now looks like a perfect halfmoon.
I am waiting for the tram now at Alexanderplatz, one of the busiest squares in all of Berlin. Everybody is going about their business, locals and tourists alike. Nobody is watching, but I am getting more confident in putting the dark glasses on.

10:47 The peak! Beautiful.

It’s not dark at all though, maybe not quite as bright anymore.

And now there are people watching too, we are outside the Museum of Natural History. But I saw them in other places as well – with glasses and home built devices. Using the selfie camera of your phone doesn’t work, too much light…

I am fascinated!

Alma mater II

Our next stop was downtown Paderborn, the city, the historic center, the pedestrianized zone… but we weren’t really here for the history, the sites, or even the shops or cafes. We just wanted to feel the atmosphere, see what had changed and what was still as ugly as ever.

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The weather was definitely typical for Eastern Westphalia: a slight, but penetrating drizzle and quite cold too. We limited our walk around town accordingly.

I must admit that I didn’t even remember many details. The girls kept going on that the Cafe Central isn’t called the Cafe Central anymore, but La Maison. But until they actually took me to the place, I had no idea what they were talking about.

The pictures we took were of the sights after all, like any other tourist: the cathedral, the town hall, one of the oldest schools in town, the town model, the concert hall. Those haven’t changed much or at all and will most likely still be the same when we return in ten years or so…

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Alma mater

Ellie and I are spending the weekend with the girls in Paderborn where the girls and I went to uni. For me it’s the first visit in more than 10 years and it feels strange to be back. I loved to go to school here, but I have definitely moved on.

Our first stop was the university. Classes are on break and it also being a Saturday, everything was absolutely dead. We wanted to have breakfast, but the only coffee available was from a machine. A bit disappointing. So we just walked around a bit and asked two very young students to take our picture. We found one name we recognized – the one of the secretary and we left her a note. The hallways looked exactly the same, but there were quite a few new buildings.

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Homeward bound

I am “home”, meaning back with my parents for a few days in the small town where I grew up and where I still have family and friends. It’s always a journey back in time and some things simply never change. While I never expect to see people I know on the streets of Berlin (my current “home”), here I am always prepared for a friendly hello and as it happens, even after not living here for almost 20 years, I usually do run into someone I know at the store, the bank, around town …

Today my walk took me all around town. It’s a small town, about 20,000 people live here, you can get everything you need, but not much more. A lot of people work in the bigger towns around here, the biggest having about 320,000 inhabitants. The surrounding scenery is nice (lots of rain, so lots of green also) and there’s some history. We all grew up with stories about a Duke of Saxony called Wittekind, a contemporary of Charlemagne. I never really cared about the actual history, but the local lore, like Wittekind challenging the towns around here to build churches – he would then be buried in the church that was completed first. Our town really cleverly built a church and finished first. But they didn’t built a belltower. To this day the belltower stands separate from the church, but Wittekind was indeed buried in the church.

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A lot of things around town are named after Wittekind too.

The museum – of course …

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The fountain on the central town square has a littel statue on top made by a local artist…

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… more important for me has always been the ice cream parlor, with the best Italian ice cream in the world. The family spends winters in Italy and summers here. The first generation is still very much involved and lots of nephews and cousins have spent their summers here since they first opened in the mid 70s.

Then, there’s the high school of course …

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And going even further back personally the local park with a wonderful playground (fortunately with new play things…).

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What can I say it’s still home and always will be.

Spring is in the air

We’ve been waiting far too long, but there are more and more indicators that winter might finally be over.

For instance, my winter tea supply (second order) is almost gone.

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And then I have spotted not only the first flowers in full bloom in our front yard, but also many busy bees.

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I guess we weren’t the only ones waiting for warmer weather and more sunshine.