Tag Archives: germany

The Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, Germany

Elephant at Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.com

What if I told you that the best zoo I have ever been to is located just outside of Hamburg, Germany?

What if I told you that I am a former resident of San Diego, a city known for it’s zoo, and I still think the Hamburg Zoo is better. And not just by a little bit. By a lot!

Elephants at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, Germany via ZaagiTravel.comElephants at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, Germany via ZaagiTravel.com

As you enter the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, Germany you are almost immediately greeted by a herd of friendly elephants. The big, gray, muddy animals are happy to hold out their long trunks in order to receive snacks from visitors, who are allowed to feed them.

Elephants at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, Germany via ZaagiTravel.comElephant at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, Germany via ZaagiTravel.com

I could have spent all day with these fascinating giants, but the girls and I decided to venture out and chose to take a counter-clockwise approach to exploring the park.

Heads up… these photos were taken with a DSLR camera, but without any zoom lens, just the standard factory lens that it came with.

Flowers at Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.comThe park itself is massive. It maintains a natural landscape that I have never seen at any other zoo. Green grassy fields sprawl out on either side of dirt walkways; tall trees frame the different exhibits making it feel like you’re really out in nature with the animals.

Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.comOne exhibit that looked a little less natural but still beautiful nonetheless was this futuristic looking dome where a group of orangutans were hanging out, some of them literally.

Orangutan at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.com

As we left the orangutan exhibit we crossed an optional foot bridge with (fake) crocodiles swimming beneath us.

Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.comDown the main dirt pathway we came across a peacock that paused long enough for us to grab a quick photo.

Peacock at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.comNow just because we’re grown, have graduated college, and are beginning our own careers doesn’t mean we’re too old to have some fun at the kids playground, right?? The five of us piled onto this swinging contraption without hesitation and had ourselves an awesome time. You know you would do it too!

Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.comLike the grown-up kids at heart that we are, of course one of the highlights of the entire zoo was the gated goat petting area. Being that it was late spring during our visit we got to see many baby goats, including this little guy below.

Baby Goat at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.com

The girls and I enjoyed loving on the baby goats.
Petting Zoo at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.comObvi.

Petting Zoo at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.comThe goats enjoyed the attention also.

But I think it’s important to mention that goats are very aggressive, however in a non-violent way. Maybe persistent, stubborn, or tenacious would be more accurate terms to describe their personalities.

TIP: Put any papers away, like your map, before going inside the petting area. I saw some teenage boys feed their map and a tissue to a pregnant goat. It annoyed me enough to say something, and even though they didn’t speak english you can bet they knew I was angry. Just because goats will eat nearly anything doesn’t mean they should.

Goat at the Petting Zoo at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.comTIP: grab some nutella crepes (the stand is located across from the goats) after being inside the petting area, as to avoid having the smell all over our hands while trying to pet the little guys and gals. If not, you’re asking to get your fingers nibbled on.

Same with the ponies.

Pony at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, Germany via ZaagiTravel.com

Take it from someone who nearly had their finger chomped off by a pony at age 5. Animals don’t often mean to actually bite you, they smell or see what they think is food and before you know it you’re wishing it was Charlie that had bit your finger instead.

A couple minutes down the road we discovered this sassy seal. He/she put on a good show for us, repeatedly slipping in and out of the water, but not without lounging like a Victoria’s Secret model mid photo shoot. Minus the bikini. Scandalous.
Seal at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.comTo protect the seal’s privacy I’ll refrain from publishing those indecent pictures. You’re welcome, seal.

Seal at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.com

One of the kid favorites was the walrus, probably because of the face-to-face interaction.
Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.com

Walrus at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.com

I have a theory. Humans are intrigued by marine animals because underwater life is so foreign to life on land. Or what I like to call Reverse Little Mermaid syndrome.Whale tail at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.comMaddie and Rachel played marine biologist before we went off to find Rachel’s favorites, the lions…

Lions at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.com

Lions at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.com

Lions at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg Germany via ZaagiTravel.comAwww, look at how happy she is.

Spending a few hours at the Tierpark Hagenbeck Zoo was by far the best way to spend time in Hamburg. I highly recommend it to anyone passing through the area. It is accessible by public transport; we took the metro system — exit the red Metro line 2 at the Tierpark Hagenbeck stop — which drops you off just around the corner from the entrance.

The park also has an aquarium connected to it — but you are required to buy a separate ticket for entrance. Inside the aquarium you can see fish, sharks, snakes, spiders, and the best part… there is a Madagascar room! Over 10 lemur monkeys climbing around a space the size of my kitchen, if my kitchen had a super high monkey-filled ceiling. We took pictures with the lemurs on our shoulders, heads, and backs.

I can hardly think of a better way to spend a day in Hamburg. Do yourself a favor and go!

The Top 5 Reasons to Travel with Contiki Tours (Review + Tips!)

BigBenLondonEyeTelephone Booth London UK

I arrived in London at the Royal International Hotel not knowing what to expect. Contiki’s “European Escapade” tour was set to take a group of us to Paris, Beaujolais, Barcelona, Arles, Antibes, Nice, Monaco, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Vatican City, Venice, Vienna, Munich, the Austrian Tyrol, Liechtenstein, Lucerne, Lauterbrunnen, Heidelberg, St. Goar, and Amsterdam over the course of three and a half weeks.

To be honest, it hadn’t been my idea to book a Contiki tour. I’m generally anti tours because I think I can usually have a better experience planning it all on my own, but this trip was selected by my aunt and it was Europe so I thought, why not. As it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised when it ended up being one of my favorite travel experiences.

Overall, I would recommend Contiki to young (the company only accommodates people ages 18-35), friendly, down-to-earth people who are looking to make friends from around the world and create fun memories in a beautiful and exciting setting.

Contiki Europe European Escapade Holland Netherlands via ZaagiTravel.com

Here are my top 5 reasons to travel with Contiki.


1. Make friends with great people from all over the world.

Contiki Girls at Chateau in Beaujolais France via ZaagiTravel.com


Many of my tour mates turned into friends that I will stay in touch with for a lifetime. Actually, writing this blog made me realize just how much I miss them.

While a majority of our group was from Australia we also had awesome people from the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, China, and South Africa (as well as our tour manager and bus driver, both from England).

Contiki Munich Germany Dirndl via ZaagiTravel.com

We came from diverse backgrounds, had different interests, and yet, by the end of the tour, we were as close as family. Meeting these incredible individuals was the absolute highlight of my summer.


2. Stay in incredible exclusive-to-Contiki properties.

Contiki Chateau Pool Beaujolais France via ZaagiTravel.com

Our entire group’s favorite place that we stayed during the Contiki tour was a place called Chateau de Cruix. It is a 400+ year old chateau in a wine region of central France known as Beaujolais (which was recently highlighted in the August issue of National Geographic Traveler).

Contiki Chateau de Cruix Vineyards France Beaujolais via ZaagiTravel.com

The chateau produces it’s own wine, has a beautiful pool, overlooks miles of vineyards, and has a bar in the underground cellar known as the Cave.

The atmosphere here was one of the best anywhere. The girls would lay out on the lounge chairs by the pool while the guys played rugby on the lawn in the evening. Multiple tour groups are often staying at the Chateau at the same time creating a fun and social environment.

Contiki Chateau de Cruix Vineyards France Beaujolais via ZaagiTravel.com

My tips for staying at the Chateau de Cruix:

  • There’s no elevator in this property so be prepared to carry your luggage up the stairs to your room. Take advantage of the strong attractive foreign dudes.
  • To thank said strong attractive foreign dude that carried your bag up the stairs, buy a round of Ice Tropez. It’s a French peach-colored drink in a glass bottle that the Chateau sells and it’s probably one of the most delicious alcoholic beverages I’ve ever tasted.
  • The chateau packs picnic baskets (wine, breads, cheeses, fruit, chocolates, etc.) for groups to take on a hike up to a nearby lookout spot. On your way, if you spot a cemetery, you’ve gone too far. Turn around. You missed one of the landmarks on the map.

Other exclusive properties we stayed at were: a “chalet” in Switzerland surrounded by waterfalls, a “gasthof” in Austria where we helped serve dinner after paragliding from the local mountains, and many more.

Contiki Switzerland Mountains European Escapade Europe via ZaagiTravel.com

Contiki Austria Mountains Tyrol European Escapade Europe via ZaagiTravel.com


3. Travel to multiple destinations without the added stress.

Contiki Coach European Escapade in Europe via ZaagiTravel.com

Traveling alone or with just a few people can be wonderful. But it can also be seriously awful. Like the time it took 5 hours to go what should have been 20 minutes on the tube in London with 85 pounds of luggage. It’s 1000x worse than it sounds. Trust me, you don’t want to do that.

Or the time I received unwanted attention from a man in Belgium at 6 in the morning while I was alone on my way to the airport. No one wants to star in their own personal version of Taken 3.

On Contiki, your driver (or the hot Australian dude on tour) puts your bag on the coach for you. You can kick back on an air-conditioned bus and watch the sunflowers fields of southern France or the turquoise lakes of Switzerland outside the window. No back injury, no sore arms, no fatigue, no creepy random men, no anxiety, no worries.


4. Experience your destinations with a knowledgeable guide.

Tour manager Lisa and driver Jamie
Tour manager Lisa and driver Jamie

Our tour manager, Lisa, worked day and night to create the best possible European experience for us. She went through intensive training to prepare for her position and it shows. She knew exactly how to handle all situations, was full of interesting and impressive knowledge about every place we visited, and made all of the days entertaining and memorable.

For example, while we staying in the south of France Lisa suggested we go to AntibesLand, an amusement park on the Cote d’Azur.

Contiki at Antibes Land FranceNIK_0004

Contiki at Antibes Land France

Pizza at Antibes Land France Contiki via ZaagiTravel.com

The bravest of our group rode hundreds of feet in the air and saw the gorgeous Mediterranean coastline all around us before free-falling back to Earth. We went on fast, spinning rides again and again and recovered by stuffing our faces with nutella crepes and warm, cheesy pizza.


5. If you’re a young and inexperienced traveler, being apart of a group will satisfy your parent’s requirement for safety.

To be honest, I never would have thought to join a Contiki tour. I had already traveled extensively and always preferred traveling with 2 or 3 other people, not a group of 40-50. My aunt chose Contiki for the safety that comes with being apart of a group. It’s a convincing factor for anyone who has a worried family.

The downsides to traveling with Contiki (because there are downsides to every type of travel)….

  • There is limited time in each location. Only 2 days somewhere isn’t enough to see and do everything. If you want to get a taste of each place to help decide where to come back to and spend more time at someday, then it’s great.
  • Traveling by coach means early mornings and long bus rides. If you’re like me and find it difficult to sleep sitting up be prepared to be tired many of the evenings.
  • It’s easy to get sick while traveling on a coach with nearly 50 other people. It’s close quarters, it’s little sleep, and it’s a cold waiting to happen. The “Contiki Cough” as we called it was pretty terrible. I remember skipping through the cobble-stoned streets of Florence early one morning with my Aussie friend Dane. We were celebrating finally getting our hands on some antibiotics. My suggestions: bring (and TAKE) daily vitamins, bring over-the-counter cold medication, stay hydrated, sleep whenever you can. Just do whatever it takes to avoid getting sick or to recuperate if you do get sick.


If you have any questions about my experience with Contiki or would like a further review on the European Escapade, comment below and I’ll be happy to talk more about it.