My cousin Frankziska and her husband Stephan and I were out for the day walking around Bielefeld, Germany’s 19th largest city known for its University. We had just visited Sparrenberg, a castle built before the 1250s and mostly destroyed in WWII. The castle had been rebuilt and you can still see parts of the original structure on the grounds and if you take a tour of the cellar. I enjoyed this castle mostly because the views of Bielefeld were beautiful, and also because of its very typical castle look & feel. Sparrenberg felt a little like a Camelot but maybe that’s because there were two men practicing sword play below near the castle walls. The nerd in me was thrilled to watch them.

Our next stop after Sparrenberg was going to be the zoo. The zoo boasts many different types of animals native to Germany and Europe. We were excited to spend an afternoon checking them out.

On the way there we had to walk on a bridge over the autobahn. Approaching the bridge, we could hear no cars whizzing by below. In fact, we heard laughter and the scraping of skateboards and ticking of bicycle wheels instead. Peering over the edge of the bridge we could see people riding bikes, roller blading, skateboarding, and running along the autobahn in both directions. Surprised by this, we decided to get a closer look.

Police had parked along the entrance/exit ramp as we made our way down. People were lined up along the side next to the ramp cheering those who were running or rolling passed. This was Run & Roll Day on the autobahn! Many teams of people from different companies and organizations in the area had organized to dress up, build funny little floats, and run, bike, or otherwise roll along in groups for some friendly competition.

“We would have had no idea this was going on today if you weren’t here.” Stephen said to me, highlighting one of the best parts about hosting people and showing them around your town. I always liked to host people in New York because I’d have the chance to see and do things I otherwise would miss out on or take for granted. We didn’t have bicycles or anything, and we weren’t about to run in our good clothes, but this was a rare opportunity for all of us. So we put foot to pavement and walked on the autobahn. Talk about deviating the norm! ;)

We eventually made it to the Bielefeld zoo and had a great time there. The zoo has tons of animals with very close up viewing as well as petting and feeding of some of the animals. They had bears, ponies, all sorts of deer, goats, guinea pigs, mice, birds of all kinds of varieties, wild cats (not able to be domesticated), fox, wolf, wild boar, beaver, and more.

Here are some of my favorite photos from our day at the zoo: