We went to the zoo on our second day in Berlin. Berlin's zoo, or Zoologischer Garten Berlin, is Germany's oldest and has the largest number of species (1,500) of any zoo in the world.
We walked to the zoo, stopping at a McDonald's for a cheap lunch. Once at the zoo, we used our Berlin WelcomeCard to get a modest discount on our zoo tickets. We tried to get tickets to the aquarium as well, but found that the discount wouldn't work for a combined ticket.
Once inside the zoo, we immediately noticed how flat it was, especially compared to the very hilly San Diego Zoo, which we are used to. As mentioned above, the zoo has the largest number of species of any zoo, so we ended up seeing some animals that we'd never seen before, like the large, swimming, rat-like nutria, which were hilarious to watch. We also found that many of the animals' exhibits were both indoor and outdoor; we had seen many empty outdoor cages, but soon discovered that each had a connected indoor counterpart and that the animals were mostly in the indoor areas.
Lino's roommate had told us we would need just a couple hours at the zoo, but we ended up staying for over double that as we explored just about every exhibit. Berlin's zoo was home to the famous polar bear Knut, who was rejected by his mother and subsequently raised by humans; though Knut had died a year earlier, we still checked out the eisbar exhibit.
After we had seen just about everything, we left the zoo and headed toward the east side of Berlin, which Lino's roommate had recommended to see the different culture on the other side of the wall. The public transportation was frustratingly crippled by construction while we were there, but we eventually were able to get to the east side. Once there, we stopped at a butcher's shop that also sold food, and got some traditional meat dishes with pickled red cabbage and potatoes.
After dinner, we walked toward the Spree River, stopping at the shore to walk along the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall. In recent years, this section of the wall has been painted by muralists and now forms the largest outdoor art gallery, called the East Side Gallery. We walked along its length, looking at the murals, which are painted with various messages and styled. There were many people posing for pictures in front of the paintings and even adding their own little bit of graffiti, which we would have denounced if we were in an English-speaking country! We walked a little more around the area, called Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and then fought our way back to the apartment on the beleaguered public transportation.
Once we were back, we saw that Lino had finally returned from his trip! Janelle finally got to meet the guy who's place we'd been staying at for two days. We talked for a long time and since Lino hadn't had dinner yet, he cooked us a classic German meal of fishsticks, boiled potatoes, and frozen vegetables. Lino had to wake up early for school, so we retired a little early.