I can't believe I didn't write about this. I think maybe I was too busy. I put the photos on Facebook and then entirely forgot to write about it. Nevermind. We went in July this year after my final exams, all five of us.
Now I am a city break person. I hate lying-in-the-sun holidays (that's a post for another day.) We went for four days. We don't tend to leave the kids when we go away. We left Emily when we went on our honeymoon, but one kid is easier to bin off than three... So when we go anywhere we do have to plan meticulously. You can't just rock up to a beer hall in Berlin and chill out. It's never going to happen. When you tell people you are going on a city break, you would be surprised how many of them say "Ooh just you and Warren?" I don't know why people assume that we wouldn't take the kids on a city break.
So we set off for the airport, all packed, planned and excited.
We had all of the obvious supplies for the kids: nappies, wipes snacks, magazines, buggy and reins. We packed quite light but made sure we had all the essentials. Now we had planned Berlin before we left, we had an itinerary - I know, I know, not very spontaneous, but you have to be a bit more organised when you have kids. I would say that we got through about half of the things we wanted to do, which is definitely a win for us. We were probably being too optimistic in what we wanted to achieve; Berlin is a big city and it was really hot while we were there. We managed:
We didn't manage to go inside the dome at the back. Next time, we will. It was too hot and instead we stopped for ice cream and beers.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
We spent a long time here. Some of the blocks are huge and you can literally get lost amongst them. The architect Peter Eisener intended for the blocks to be disorientating, to reflect the terror and incoherence of the Holocaust itself.
The Brandenburg Gate
The Topography of Terror Museum
The panels that you see photographed were cells where so-called "enemies of the state" were kept. The museum itself is built on the site of the Nazi headquarters. We did not spend enough time here - it was too hot as this was in the middle of the afternoon - the kids were fed up and we were hot ourselves. When we go back, we will definitely spend more time here.
We also went to Checkpoint Charlie, which is a little bit commercialised now. We just walked by. It was enough to just be there.
This is a brilliant interactive museum, the kids loved it and it was good to see what life might have been like in the former DDR. This was on the River Spree - we loved walking up and down here and visiting the bars and restaurants. We thought that a boat trip would have been more stressful than relaxing with the kids!
We walked to the memorial to the Russians and spent a lot of time in the Tiergarten which is a huge park - loved it. We also visited the memorial to the Roma people killed during Nazi rule.
We spent a full day at Berlin Zoo. We did have a great day - we thought it might be nice just to have a chill-out day geared to the kids. They sold beer in the cafes on the way round so we were chuffed with that!
Karl-Marx Allee and Cafe Sybille
Loved it here. So much history. We had a beer and ice cream (can you see a pattern forming here?) in a lovely little cafe called Cafe Sybille. We walked past the Karl Marx Buchandlung (it is not open to the public anymore except for book signings)
The Berlin Wall & Memorial
The Wall and Memorial is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. I can't explain. It was so still, so moving. To think that Berlin was divided for so long by this wall - families, friends - divided. People killed for crossing it. The memorial is beautiful and fitting not only as a way to remember those affected, but as a warning for the future.
The kids were dicking about on the grass the whole time, naturally.
So really we did see a lot, but we do need to re-visit to see more. The Berlin trains were AMAZING. We bought a family ticket every day and literally hopped on and off, we never waited more than five minutes for a train, ever. We covered a lot of ground for a good price and a comfy ride. People were friendly and helpful. We stayed in a Holiday Inn in Gesundbrunnen - I've linked it here - highly recommend them. The staff were brilliant with the kids and nothing was too much trouble.
We had a ball. I didn't want to come home.
Until next time, Berlin.