Friday, June 12, 2009

Schonbrunn: Tiergarten and Labyrinth

Visit to the Schonbrunn Zoo (click to enlarge). On Friday, I decided to meet the beast head-on and take all four kids to the zoo (no pun intended). I found out from this self-help book my mom gave me last Christmas that I have an objective and future-oriented sense of time, which makes me a planner (I read the book, mom! Only took 18 months, but I liked it!). So I planned for everything. I remembered diapers and wipes and hand sanitizer and drinks and sweatshirts and raincoats and lunch and snacks and the camera and keys and money and the transportation cards. Weird things was that we used absolutely everything I packed. It was fickle weather and went from sunny to windy to overcast to raining and back again several times throughout the day. Thankfully we had everything we needed and didn't have to stop. We'd just distribute or collect the next change of clothes and keep going.
This zoo is one of the oldest in the world. It was begun in 1752 by Franz Stefan who was Maria Theresia's husband. He was more into animals than ruling the empire, and so they divvied up the housework. It is said that he liked to go down to the Orangerie and eat breakfast out there. It still has some of the original layout and a few buildings.
The kids were wonderful. They were so enthusiastic about all the animals and would have stayed to watch them forever. They loved the koalas and pandas and the lions and seals and pumas and penguins and ring-tailed lemurs especially. I've said before that I think different zoos have different personalities. I think the Schonbrunn zoo is characterized by the promenade. The animals here actually walk around in circles -- the giraffes actually do it two-by-two. We watched the seals being fed, and then the kids went into a room where the seals swim under you. They were so good. They went into the rain forest exhibit by themselves and when I went in after them Maddie had them all corralled waiting by the elevator. We played for a long time at the children's playground, which was good, but it made me miss the Berlin zoo. And we had our lunch on a bench by the central pavillion.
I looked at the central pavillion which has a swank-looking cafe in it, serving lunch to the spiffy crowd and reflected that I have never eaten at the spiffy cafe and am unlikely to do so for many years yet. Then I had to check myself, because someday (many years hence) Rob and I will go to the zoo at Schonbrunn and eat at the swank cafe and no one will need a diaper change or wipe snot epaulets on our shoulders, and we'll eat our meal in peace and with completed sentences, and nearly everything we discuss will be the crazy things our children did when we brought them here. Isn't life a strange thing?
Near the end of our stay at the zoo, Sebi found a bench and said "Look! We should sit down" and so I brought out the doppelkeks (two round cookies with chocolate creme inside) and immediately this little red squirrel came bounding up and went wiggy all over the bench and the trellis above us. I wouldn't let the kids feed him because I didn't bring the squirrel bite kit and he was already going postal on the smell. Then of course every other person who walked by freaked out over the squirrel and had to take a picture of him or try to stick their finger up to his mouth (?!). The kids named him Goober. And his two friends who showed up soon after were Hoober and Doober. As soon as the cookies were done we left the bench to other people who wanted to take pictures of the squirrels at the zoo.
In addition to the zoo, there are lots of other things going on in the backyard at Schonbrunn. I had told the kids there was a maze and a labyrinth. If you know the difference, let us know. We don't understand it and we've already done them. Will, despite being the main proponent for this attraction, had shown repeated anxiety that we'd get lost and he'd get left overnight in the park. We split up boys against girls at the first fork at the entrance, and Will and Sebi trounced us completely. In fact Sebi had to call down to us from the platform and tell us which way to go because Maddie and I got completely confused. Must be early-onset Alzheimer's, because I am pretty certain I managed this on my own before.
The three older kids went and did the other labyrinth while Joss played in the rocks and tore up leaves, and I met a couple from Truckee who were here for the week playing nanny for their friend. They were LDS ("I wondered if you were Mormon when I saw you" she said. And yes, I broke my own rules and wore my white jogging shoes. If you must know!). Here is a video of Will and Sebi playing the Glockenspiel. We have a picture of Will on this at 18 months old in 2002. Back then the shrubbery was only about ankle high, and you could hop over it if you got frustrated.
And this baby is my new Favorite Playground Attraction. I've been a connisseur of unusual playground toys in Europe since 2002, and I've got pictures from Prague and Budapest and Berlin and the Rhine cruise, but this one tops them all in my book. There is plenty of background noise from the kids playing on the chimes and glockenspiel next to it. Check it out!

1 comment:

MOM said...

You are a hero! We love all the pictures and the writeup and the philosophizing.