As a New Year dawns – (and I’ll bet I’m not the only one to be glad to see the back of 2016) – I’ve decided to take a look back at some of my most memorable adventures of the past 12 months. Let’s start with my most recent one – a solo trip to Bremen. One place really stood out from the rest, making my trip all the more memorable and so I felt it earned a blog post all of its own.
When I booked my trip to Bremen my mind was fairly full of Christmas markets, Glühwein and traditional sightseeing so a visit to somewhere like Botanika wasn’t on my radar at all. However, I was very pleased to find such a place existed and, as it was rated one of Bremen’s top attractions in a local magazine , I thought I’d call in and see if it was as wonderful as the magazine promised.
Following a mild misreading of Google maps Botanika was around a 40 minute walk from my Air BnB but I didn’t mind. It was a gorgeous, crisp day and I used the opportunity to ogle the beautiful buildings lining the city’s wide roads. On arrival I hung about outside to take in the last of Autumn in all its glory. I did attempt to take pictures but nothing I captured did the swathes of colour and light that blanketed the treetops any justice so you’ll just have to take my word that they were breathtaking.
Inside I found the place to be well-appointed and easily accessible for buggy and wheelchair users with wide paths to manoeuvre along. The butterfly house may require a little more negotiation as you have to push through a set of plastic drapes which are an additional measure intended to keep the butterflies in the tropical climes to which they’ve become accustomed.
Pricing may appear a little complicated but it’s not too steep. For individuals it’s €10.50 but if you arrive an hour before closing this is reduced to €6 though I’d advise you to spend as much time as you can there because there’s a lot to see and take in. There are special offers for families, those wishing to visit on multiple occasions and all the usual discounts apply too. Don’t forget to pick up a teabag with your ticket which you can use to make tea halfway round if you fancy a pit stop.
Botanika is one big homage to Asiatic landscapes – Japanese, Bornean and Himalayan in particular – and the animals which make their homes within them. It’s a family friendly place where engaging the senses is very much encouraged though be careful of the watery places which aren’t divided from the paths by protective fences so it’s worth holding little hands when in these areas.
Although the website does a good job at explaining the centre in English I couldn’t find any further information in English as I made my way round so, if you’re not a German-speaker, be prepared to make friends with Google translate or perhaps brush up on your GCSE German if you’re game. Don’t worry too much if you don’t speak the language. I do but didn’t spend much time reading the signs and was quite happy to stroll around and let my imagination wander.
My favourite place to visit was the butterfly house where I was actually able to capture a couple of moths emerging from their chrysalises. I’d never seen this before and was totally enthralled. There were plenty of species of butterflies and moths flapping about but the majority were too quick for me to snap.
There was just one thing that made me feel a little unsure. Within the centre is a primate house which is home to a family of White Handed Gibbons – an endangered species under threat in its natural habitat of South East Asia from illegal hunting and deforestation for palm oil. I understand the centre’s attempts to illustrate the animals’ decline in the wild I’m just not sure this is necessarily the appropriate home for them. Admittedly, I don’t know a huge amount about their gibbon programme – I couldn’t find much information on site and found the website a little vague but I could, of course, have just missed it. I just personally found the area they were in to be quite an enclosed space for a family of social animals that can have a life expectancy of 50 years in captivity, although they do seem to be well looked after. I’d really like to see an additional gibbon house elsewhere on the site to give the animals more space to roam. There’s certainly plenty of space to facilitate this.
All things considered, if you’re planning a visit to Bremen – particularly in the darker, wintry months – Botanika is a wonderful oasis bursting with lush flora offering a bright escape from the dreary weather. Facilities are good – easily accessible, loos, shop and I believe a coffee shop, though I ducked out before having the chance to sample its wares. Each part of the Discovery Centre is themed differently so there’s plenty to keep young and less-young minds interested.
If you stop by in the future let me know what you think of the place. And make sure to come back on Wednesday, 6pm GMT, for part 2 of my trip to Bremen.
Until then here’s to all good things for you and yours in 2017!