When the animal world disappoints you…


My arrival to Große Schönebeck station, with the OEG train that continued my trip from Karow, near Pankow area of Berlin, for another 30 minutes, did not announce anything but just another trip agenda. My aim was to visit the Schorfheide Natural Park, which on the maps and travel recommendations was indicated as 3.4 km. away from this station.


Before arriving to the real animals park, I take a tour of the hunting castle of the Hohenzollern – just another one of them, with an interesting garden of statues and coaches, an attractions for the kids of all ages.


Following different arrows and not always very clear signs, I optimistically start my journey to Schorfheide, near gardens and small houses with agriculture tools in their yards.


Less wild horses are treating me with curiosity but they leave me alone with my camera within seconds.


Some locals also treat me with curiosity, as it seems that pregnant women with a camera and a notebook walking in the village is not a very common view.


Maybe I am just the victim of the misunderstanding of an arrogant city girl. After working hard harvesting, local people just want to rest and treat the intruder with a distant politeness, just offering them the information they want with a minimal use of words.


Compared with my usual timing, this time the 3 and something kilometers look never ending. Hundreds of meters away from the park I stop at the Esel (Donkey) coffee, exactly when the rain starts and the outside chairs are collected. An icecream might be enough as an energizer for the rest of the trip.


According to my homeworks, this natural park, part of the wider Biosphere Schorfheide Chorin, has many animal breeds threatened by extinction. Built in 1996, it shows to the visitor the lynx, European elks, wild horses, red deer and wild boars among others. It seems my long hours of walking will be compensate with some great encounters…


Before entering the borders of the park, an adventure park made me feel a bit frustrated that at least for now I cannot put on trial my trees climbing abilities.


After a very short stop at the local restaurant for an overpriced poor cup of cappuccino, I am ready to meet the special animals, that for sure are waiting for me somewhere hidden in the bushes of this huge park. For now, I am greeted by some crazy playful goats.


And by some gracious elegant horses too…


The dirty curly Mangalitsa are too busy to say hello, having a great time in their natural muddy environment.


The herd of cows are not enjoying the intruders either. The German-English explanations are mentioning that this is one of the oldest domestic breed of cattle.


Still I am waiting for that big meeting with some unique creature. The big alleys of the natural park are bathed in the light and warm of the summer sun, making my ride more enjoyable. My sport shoes are making this long trip easy. Every couple of minutes I am crossing paths with families or groups of German travelers looking to photograph interesting animals, just like me, or exhausted after so many searches, just need a nice place for a picnic.


Far away in the middle of the fields, the Wisent (European bison) is having late lunch. Extincted in the German areal since the 16th century, it weights around 1,200 kg, being considered the heaviest land mammal in Europe.


For the rest of the trip, my luck just went away. The solitary wild boars keep staying in their kiosks, the European wolf is nowhere to be seen. Instead, I have another long encounter with horses, this time the Konik breed, a very primitive East European breed, considered very resistant to cold and generally undemanding.


The European otter made a lot of problems. First, I had to wait for a couple of minutes to spot it, till a very curious sound alerted me and another photographer lady nearby. It sounded like a gross animal laugh. It went into water instantly and appear only too late for my camera to catch it. Finally, although a bit unpolite, I had to take a picture of the otter in the middle of the animal act of devouring the fish, before running again very fast.And that was almost all for this visit. No European elk and no Lynx available to say hello to me, although I stayed for more than 20 minutes at the vantage point hoping desperately that I will spot anything.


On the way to the exit, the racoon initially hidden in his kiosk, made an afternoon tour, just in time for me to take a last picture of him.


Very tired and disappointed by my journalistic achievements, paid my last respects to Groß Schönebeck. Let’s say that this trip was a successful proof of physical resilience. I just hope one day will have the chance to return and meet more special animals.

For more inspiration, check the dedicated Pinterest board


Cocktail o’clock at sky.bar Berlin


Berlin has so many temptations, maybe too many. Finding the best of them could be a matter of luck, inspiration or good research. With only a few free days left to spend in Berlin before the long travel vacations, I want to be left only with the best memories of this short summer. Plus, being on the road most of the time, left me only with few chances to see my old friends in the city. Thus, any good tips are more than welcomed for spending the time at its best. As a guest of the sky.bar, at the last floor of andel’s hotel Berlin, I give a big chance to a cocktail o’clock evening.

The colourful design andel’s hotel is easy to notice, from the S-Bahn station Landsberger Allee. Although situated in an area without any big tourist temptations, the hotel can be easily reached by Ring S-Bahn and in less than one hour you can be to any famous landmarks of the city.


The list of cocktails is long, and the combination of ingredients is highly elaborated. Either the mixture may sound too extravagant or too unique to be true, the temptation is always there. Besides the classical recipes, many of the cocktails do have fresh fruits or veggies and spices added to top brands alcoholic drinks. My friend is a bit faster than me when it comes to choices and much more brave to try Picante cocktail, combining: dark rum, strawberry liqueur, raspberry liqueur, limes, fresh strawberries and raspberries, balsamic glaze, pepper, lime juice and cane sugar syrup. The fresh fruits are bringing tonic flavours to the rum, while the pepper is adding some strong notes, balanced only by the cane sugar syrup.


Little by little, people are arriving, although the evening is still young. The usual ritual is to find a good spot, to order the cocktail and while waiting, to make a tour of the glass windows for taking pictures of the iconic locations of Berlin that can be seen. The chairs and tables are situated in close vicinity, which create a little problem sometimes, especially if you dare for more privacy. However, there are enough good spots where you can spend a good time, with a good view, without being bothered or bothering the others. The design follows the main lines of the overall design of the hotel, made up of different colourful splashes, placed in the most unexpected corner, that bring a certain youngish accent to the space.


My first cocktail choice is the green goblin: Hendrick’s gin, lychee liqueur, lychee, cucumber, lime juice, cane sugar syrup. It is refreshing, although not very cold, with a lot of sweet accents, brought in by the cane syrup and developed in an unique taste by the lychee.


The sky.bar also has a long food menu, mostly sandwiches and finger food. Roasted salty nuts and a bowl of fresh fruits were part of the very fast and bilingual – German/English – service.


Time goes fast especially when you want the least, and we are ready for the next orders. My friend is set for the gingerly Six Feet Under: pepper vodka, ginger beer, radishes, basil, lime juice. Although two alcohols in a cup can be a bit risky, the predominance of ginger beer reduces the strength of pepper vodka. The veggies and the lime juice are contributing to the freshness and a sparkling note. Very good choice for the summer time.


I am trying a Strawberry-Basil Margarita: tequila, strawberry liqueur, strawberry purée, fresh strawberries, basil, lime juice and cane sugar syrup. It may look as a very elaborated fresh fruits salad, but it’s very serious, thanks to the tequila drops. Adding basil contributed to the bouquet of strong flavours, while the strawberries brought a lot of natural sugar reducing the strength of tequila.


When we are about to leave, it is late in Berlin, but people are still trying their luck to discover a different city. At least, the iconic TV tower is easiest to recognize. As for me, I hope to be brave enough to try to see how does the city looks covered by snow. I’m grateful though that there is so much time till then, although the idea of trying a new different cocktail soon is even more appealing.

For more insights about the cocktails, the bar and andel’s hotel, have a look at my dedicated Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/ilanaontheroad/andels-berlin/

Disclaimer: I was the guest of sky.bar for a cocktail’s evening, but the opinions are, as usual, my own.