South of the border

There’s a certain kind of store that (as far as I know) only exists in Germany’s most northern states. They are always close to the border or close to the big ferry terminals and they cater mainly to Scandinavian tourists. Though that might not be the right word, maybe it should rather be shoppers than tourists. People coming over the border to buy alcohol and sweets – judging by the offers in those stores.

Admittedly, alcohol is much cheaper in Germany than it is in Denmark or Sweden, so they are coming south – individually or on busses…


And when they make the trip, they really stock up. 3 l bottles of hard alcohol (that’s 0.8 gallons US) or Toblerones of 2 kg (4.4 pounds US) and giant Mentos sticks. Prices are conveniently posted in Euros and Danish crowns.



But as you can see that you can also easily get some jam or (not pictured) a bottle of shampoo. Maybe they do aim at tourists after all…



First trip – summer of 2015

Often when returning from an especially wonderful trip, I feel such an anti-climax back home – not really knowing what to do with myself. This time I have even returned without my bags (they will be brought to me later), so I cannot start laundry, but maybe this is better anyway.


It was our first trip this summer and the weather was picture perfect sunny with blue skies. It was a trip to the beach, a trip to see friends, and a shopping trip all rolled into one.

The first two days, we stayed in Eastern Holstein with friends. On day one we went on a beautiful long walk at the beach in Pelzerhaken, shedding one layer after the other in the warm sunshine. Just going on and on – both walking and taking, catching up…


There was a lot of activitiy, not only people out walking, but people setting up their caravans on the campgrounds getting ready for a summer (or at least summer weekends) outdoors.


Day two was our first time visit to the little town of Heiligenhafen. I could have stayed at their pier all day long, laying in the sun watching the water and the seagulls. But I admit, it was interesting around the yacht club too, where people were showing off  their spring fashion (or non-fashion). We also watched at the little harbor when the fishing boats came in: three or four boats full of men, who had gone out early in the morning and were now returning from some deep sea fishing.




On the way home we stopped at the famous Bungsberg. The federal state of Schleswig-Holstein is mostly flat country. The Bungsberg is its highest peak with 167.4m (183 yards). It also features Germany’s most northern ski lift.
The two towers are a TV tower and the historic Elisabethturm.



I had a little bit of a hard time taking pictures with my phone in the bright sunshine, but Ellie is okay with my posting pics that only show parts of her. And she was also fine with not coming along on day three.

We relocated to the wonderful city of Hamburg and changed our activities to shopping (and for some reason mainly stuck to Scandinavian labels: and and strolling around the Schanzenviertel to soak up the atmosphere of this young and trendy district with quaint little stores and cozy cafes.



The long weekend ended the next morning with a delicious breakfast at Mutterland ( before we all got on our trains taking us home in different directions – till next time!

Museums – a place of wonder and excellence

Surrounded by fascinating things one often forgets the primary purpose of a museum: to collect, preserve, and research; followed by display and educate.

The Museum of Natural History is a perfect example.

Just look at the vast wet collection:


From small to big animals, the preparation skills of the teams in Berlin are outstanding – and have been polished over many years. There are real masterpieces – just look at Buddy, who has been prepared in 1935 already:


The panda bears Yan Yan and Bao Bao had been on loan to the Zoo in Berlin from China. Their dermoplastics will actually be returned to China soon, but first they are on display at the museum – one last chance for Berliners to say good-bye. Many of whom probably still remember the hype and excitement about 20 years ago when Yan Yan arrived in the city at Tegel airport.



Not only scientists do a lot of research, but there are projects at the museum involving local schools and kindergardeners. The kids watch stick insects for about a year and record their behavior, what they eat, how they grow etc and contribute to the little knowledge that exists on this special species that was only recently discovered in Peru (Peruhasma schultei):


Displays throughout the museum vary from small to large:

An enlarged model of a housefly:


And a kentrosaur:


Last but not least, there’s a chance at the museum to meet one of Berlin’s favorites at the museum. He may not have quite the appeal anymore he had when hand-fed at the Zoo and playing around with his caretaker as a polar bear cub, but he is still very well known in the city – and he will forever be four years old: