Wednesday 28 August 2013

Fun parks and recreation

We have spent the last fortnight in Celle, Germany, visiting with my wife's family.

It's a town of around 80,000 people in Lower Saxony, in the north of the country.

When we're not visiting with family, we're looking for "family entertainment", which in this part of the country means zoos.

First up was the Tier Park, which is where they train animals for media performance. If you see a lion on German TV, it probably came from here.

They say this wolf is the world's best at playing dead. A totally chilled animal.

The keeper spent three years visiting the cage daily - even on weekends and sick days - in order to be accepted as a member of the pack.

While we we wandering around Tier Park, this happened...

Two guys were practicing falconry with my son and I in the middle, the falcon's wings brushing us on the way from one hand to another. Just magic.

The next zoo was Serengeti Park in Hodenhagen, which starts as a drive-through zoo.

(Yes, that's a giraffe with its head in my wife's lap.)

Then it becomes a fun park - a really good one!

Haven't you always wanted to ride Batman? Ayyyyyyy, cool like the Fonz.

We also went to this place:

(Now incorporating Friendly Ferrets and Vermin Valley.)

It's the nearest zoo, specialising in the stinky slinky members of the weasel family.

I should also mention the place we saw in Antibes, France - Marineland!

My son had just developed an obsession with killers whales when we saw the ads for Marineland, so we had to go.

It was pretty impressive.

But back to Germany.

We recently had a meal with my wife's sister and her husband. After dinner, he introduced me to the local liquors.

Ratzeputz - a dark herbal brew with a robust 58% alcohol. Tastes like nana's old horse medicine and leaves a burning trail from palate to stomach, before exploding in the brain.

Heidegeist - clear and minty with a mild 50% alcohol. Leaves the breath sweet and the head swimming.

(These two can be mixed in a lip-loosening shot called a "108". It's horrible.)

Ratzingwer - a ginger based drink for pussies, with a barely-there 35% alcohol. Like vodka with a little ginger ale.

I tried them all, then had a 108, then I tried the Ratzeputz again because I still couldn't believe that it tasted like that.


Booze is amazingly cheap here. Look at this I found at the supermarket checkout.

This box contains four shots of another herbal spirit, for under a euro. It doesn't take much scrounging around the couch cushions to find that.

But enough staying in one place. We're about to head off on our next leg:

Hamburg - Dubai - Bangkok - Ko Samui.

Oh the joys of traveling for 20 hours at a time with a three year old!

We leave our eternal gratitude (and a few lingering smells) for Marlies, who put us up for a fortnight. That included a four year old's birthday and the usual snarling of a traveling couple. Marlies, you are a saint!

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