This isn't exactly a report from Berlin - it's more an attempt to put my (and our) feelings into words. Here we go:
When we woke up in the morning on the 4th of December we saw it has been snowing during the night. I love snow but when you're going to travel by bus it's a nightmare! Of course, the bus was late but finally the journey we've been looking forward to since September started. We arrived in the beautifully Christmas dressed Bärlin late in the afternoon. Those who don't like smoking can jump over the next couple of sentences...I had especially asked for a smoker room at the hotel but of course, the room was for non-smokers. Well, strict orders to the Knusband not to unpack anything before I've contacted the reception. I must say I'm very impressed by the German efficiency - it took about half a minute to get a smoker room!!
Now it was time to hurry to the Italian restaurant where we would meet Teddybärenmutti and her knusband. It was a very happy reunion! 'I can't believe we're in Bärlin', 'I think I'm dreaming' - I'm sure you know the feeling. Mutti and Vati had already visited Knuti so we got the latest news from the zoo.
On Friday morning we had a quick breakfast and hurried to the zoo. This was the DAY! When we arrived there were already a big crowd - Knutians in their scarves, with the nameplates, lots of journalists and TV-teams. I really can't remember whom I saw first - suddenly I just was surrounded by a merry bunch of friends! A funny detail was the Knular Circle that Doris Webb and SylviaMicky had drawn with white chalk. In September they promised to reserve that special spot for me and they certainly kept their promise! Thank you! Why was the spot called Knular Circle. Well, my home in Finland is situated very near the Polar Circle...
After saying hello to everybody it was time for a very difficult moment. I wanted to place my birthday card in front of Knuti's enclosure but this was also my goodbye to TD so I had made a card (with Leaf's beautiful picture) and bought three white roses, too. It was no use to fight the tears so I just let them come. I stood quite a while in silence and remembered the happy days with our Dream Team.
Our birthday child was curiously looking at the crowd and the TV-teams with their big cameras. He looked as cute as he always does. More and more people were coming with presents to our wonder boy and Knuti seemed to be wondering why they didn't throw the gifts to him.
What are those huge thingies they're carrying and directing towards me?
The Knutians kept coming to the zoo and it was hellos and hugs to all directions. Luckily many of us were already wearing the nameplates so it made it a little easier to recognize everybody. (In spite of that I later managed to thank a person for wonderful company even if she wasn't in Berlin. Hello Goldammer!) Presents were exchanged and everybody was in a partying spirit! Knuti-Judi had brought a long birthday banderoll to Knuti so we attached it to the fence outside his enclosure. Unfortunately Vesa couldn't take a photo of it because everybody was trying to reserve a good spot to see our Mäuschen. Luckily there were so many knutographers who have taken beautiful photos so I refer to them.
Hello there? Why don't you let my presents come flying?
Suddenly someone realized it was time for Lars' feeding so we hurried to the big bears' enclosure. Marcus Röbke came with well filled bucket and started throwing the food to Lars. He looked gorgeous standing there and waiting to be served. Sometimes Uncle Marcus forced him into the water which Lars didn't appreciate. Why does a bear has a mouth if not for catching flying food?
When the feeding was over MR was surrounded by visitours asking a lot of questions. Herr Röbke seems to be a very nice and friendly person who patiently answered all possible questions. Once again I have to say how much I like and respect the wonderful keepers at the Berlin zoo. I haven't met this kind of friendliness in any other zoo.
Of course, I just had to ask MR if Vesa could take a picture of him, Knuti-Judi and me and being the nice person he is he said 'yes, of course'.
Since there was still plenty of time to Knuti's feeding we decided to take a break and go the restaurant to have some warm punsch. When we came back to Knuti the crowd has grown even biggger.
There was not only THE ladderman but many laddermen and ladderwomen! Being a dwarf I couldn't see anything. Again I was so grateful to the knutographers who had been standing on the same spot to be able to take good photos. What I saw was a lot of backs and bags!! But I was THERE and could sense the wonderful atmosphere and I'm very happy for that!
As you've already seen in several photos Knuti got that wonderful pillow with his name on and an ice cake and even croissants! I had such fun looking at the video where he was running very fast to inspect the gifts. Of course, we even sang Happy Birthday to our birthday boy!
The three photos above are by Viktor
When I was chatting with other Knutians Knuti-Judi came running and said:'Mervi, Mrs Dörflein is here. Would you like to meet her?'. Of course I wanted to meet her. She was surrounded by many visitors who all wanted to shake her hand and say a couple of words to her.
My German friends introduced me as the Finnish lady who brought the card and the white roses. I tried to say something nice but instead I started crying so Mrs Dörflein and I just held each others hands for a moment. Sometimes the words are unnecessary. I felt TD's presence very strongly and thought he never left Knuti - or us! This was - besides Knuti - the absolute highlight of my visit to Berlin!
Have you got anything else for me?
I was surprised to see such a lot of journalists and TV-teams. Maybe they had heard that the Berlin Zoo would be invaded by the Wild Herd. I also had my 15 minutes of fame!! I don't know with how many journalists and TV-teams I spoke. I've seen the little clip in Abendschau where I was introduced as 'Amerikanerinnen. Well, I guess there are Americans speaking English with Finnish accent....
Little by little the Knutian crowd made their way to the Zoo restaurant where many tables were occupied by the Wild Herd! Everybody seemed to have a great time and we were all very excited waiting for the party at Joe's Wirthaus.
Before we left the zoo we went to Knuti once more. It looked like he was trying to burry the remains of the ice cake which of course, was very wise of him. The craws are there all the time just waiting to steal his food!
We noticed that Marcus Röbke was also standing among the visitors watching the birthday child. Earlier we saw him watching Knuti from the same spot in the Bärenhof where TD used to stand and look at Knuti. I think he tries to give Knuti exactly the same care and love than TD did. There's no doubt he loves Knuti very much. I'm also sure Ronny Henkel and Sylvia Weckert are the right keepers for him. There seems to be a great interaction and understanding between them. This time I only saw MR 'live' - except when MR and SW brought the cake together.
It was getting darker and darker so we said good night to Knuti and started walking to the restaurant.
When we came to Joe's we immediately noticed that the Bürgermeister had kept his promise - there was a long red carpet just like Knuti had hoped....!! The Stimmung was already on the top when we entered the restaurant. Gudrun welcomed us with an 'Ehrenskarte' with Knut's pawprint on it. A lovely touch! I want to thank Gudrun and Manfred once again for a fantastic job! What an excellent choise of restaurant - it was so right! The walls were decorated with pictures and posters of Knuti , (Thank you for giving me one of the posters!) on the tables were homemade chocolates from Gudrun. It was all so warm and welcoming! Retta and Erika, thank you for your lovely contributions to the festivities! Viktor, thank you for making it possible for non-Berlin-travellors to join the party as well!
I don't write so much about the party because the photos and comments in Viktor's album say more than a thousand words! Oh yes, one more thing - we raised money for Knuti and collected 420 euros! Not bad, not bad at all!!
As you can see our dear Waiter was there, too! It was quite warm so he was VERY thirsty!!
On Saturday morning Knuti-Judi, Teddybärenmutti, Risto, Vesa and I went to Spandau to visit TD's grave in 'In den Kisseln'. The graveyard is more like a peaceful park. I think it's a very suitable place for the grave. Barbara and Webbiene were already there. Even the little squirrel was running there hoping we would feed him but unfortunately we hadn't any food for her. I'm sure TD would like the little rascal.
We placed our cards and flowers by the grave and lit our candles. We all cried, of course, but somehow we felt TD's presence very strongly even here so it didn't feel as sad as I had feared. Before we left the graveyard Knuti-Judi, Teddybärenmutti and I told TD in Finnish, German and English that Knuti's doing just fine and that there's a possibility for him to stay in Berlin.
When we arrived in the zoo Knuti was sleeping so we took a break in the zoo restaurant. I must say their punch is very good for an old woman's tired body!! Bea, Barbara and Webbiene joined us and we chatted and laughed and had, of course, a wonderful time together.
As you have noticed there were tears but also a lot of laughter. It felt so good to share my feelings with other Knutians who laughed and cried with me. We were all allowed to openly show our feelings which I found very comforting and healing!
Knuti Pie with his special make up
The feeding is of course always the highlight of visiting Knuti. It's so wonderful to see his facial expressions and the way he holds his paws! Priceless! The lettuce and the carrots are met with a 'hasn't he got something more suitable for a growing bear' look. The veggies are totally ignored - well, he eats them later but by the feeding time it's the fish and the meat that counts. He's not so keen to wet his paws but when the fish or meat land in the water a bear's gotta do what a bear's gotta do....
After the feeding Vesa and I had to leave because we wanted to admire the Christmas decorated Berlin and visit the Christmas market by Gedächtniskirche. After all standing we were very glad to enjoy a glas of glühwein mit Schuss sitting. In the evening we had a dinner date with Teddybärenmutti and Risto. I can tell you, folks, that there's never a dull moment in the compamy of Teddybärenmutti but I'm sure that you already know that.
Dear Wild Herd, thank you for coming to celebrate my birthday! I hope you'll be here next year, too!
Early on Sunday morning it was time to start the journey back home again. I have no words to describe how wonderful it was to meet all of you!! The Wild Herd really is something special and I hope I will meet all you all very soon again!
THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU!
LIEBE GRÜSSE AN ALLE!
I mustn't forget either to thank our cat Miffe who gave us the permission to travel to Berlin!
Mervi and Vesa
PS. When is the next meeting?