Saturday, 17 November 2012

Ich bin ein Berliner

Like Kennedy, I do not consider myself personally to be a jam doughnut, but I do feel a certain solidarity with the citizens of that great city. This is because since Wednesday this week I have been mostly walking round Berlin in sub-zero temperatures and making abortive attempts to order bakery products in German, under the sympathetic eyes of shop staff.

There will be some birds, but first a few words about Berlin. It is a fantastic city, and we didn't get round anywhere near all of it. I reckon you could probably manage with no German at all in most places. In particular I'd like plug Insider Famous Walk tour which cost a mere 9 Euros, lasted 5 hours and felt like half that time, even at -2C all the way round. Very interesting, very worthwhile. Go there, be cultural. You won't regret it.

Birdwise Berlin is less spectacular, but since we walked everywhere we were able to find ourselves a regular Grey Heron which fished the bridge opposite the Hauptbanhof and Reichstag. I was also a bit surprised (which shows how much research I did) to find that Hooded Crow was the local corvid alongside the ubiquitous Magpies.

Hooded crow doing 'bigger than you'.

Since I only saw my first one of these up in Scotland earlier this year from the window of a moving car, it was rather cool to get a closer look and not worry about the tick.

Most encouraging were the House Sparrows. They may be dying back in London, but in Berlin they're like Pigeons - dozens of them underfoot at every city square hopping round the tables and mopping up crumbs. The only place I've seen anything like it is Tower Bridge, and if anything these were more tame.

And did I mention the beer? Excellent beer. I mean really excellent beer.

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