I felt really emotional as the four of us took off on a plane destined for Berlin early on Monday morning. Our first time away, just the four of us, and even though neither of the boys will remember much about it, how fortunate we are and how exciting to be alone with my absolute favourite people for three whole days.
A city break with two little ones was never going to be plain sailing, but we both feel content with what we managed to see and do. I also managed to read a whole book – I’m not sure how? Getting through security at Stansted at 5am was a mission in itself. I think I’m going to write down some tips for surviving a city break with kids – mostly for my benefit!
I decided against editing the pictures, as I think the energy of Berlin is captured better this way.
Berlin was not how I expected and it really took me by surprise. It was quiet, grey and atmospheric; not bustling and energetic. Intriguing and moving are better words; although they don’t seem quite right either. It was a learning experience and one I won’t forget. The history is tangible everywhere and in everything. There is also a lot of ongoing building work to recreate structures from the 19th century, even though The Wall fell over 25 years ago. I’d really like to go back in five or ten years time to feel the glory of Berlin, before unimaginable grievances occurred. I took great pleasure in using “danke schön”, “bitte” and “Ich bin Englisch” at every conceivable opportunity. My German is dire. A visit to the East Side Gallery and Sachsenhausen concentation camp are top of my list for next time.
Here is a sneak peak of what we got up to:
After landing around 9:15am we hopped on the underground to our hotel, dropped our bags and headed out to find our bearings. All of us had a little sleep on the plane, which I was very grateful for. It was cold, so after eating some lunch our first task was to buy both boys some warm(er) footwear (what we’d brought wouldn’t suffice) and a bobble hat for me. We managed to see The Reichstag, The Bradenburg Gate, The Topography of Terror, Berlin Cathedral and saw the largest remaining section of The Wall. About 4pm we went back to the hotel to warm up and have a rest. Then a trip to Lidl was in order to stock up on snacks. We then put the boys to bed and Jared headed into town to have a look around the shops and markets.
Winston feel asleep in the buggy early on, so we quickly made our way to the exhibition at The Holocaust Memorial, which took a couple of hours. I read almost every single word – completely engrossing and so disturbing. What an honour to read so many experiences. We had another look at The Bradenburg Gate and The Reichstag. We then headed to Museum Island and went inside the DDR museum, where we also ate lunch. It’s a museum dedicated to how East Berliners lived behind The Wall – the propaganda, the escapes, the politics, education, the media, work, clothing, cars, money, holidays and the home. Who ever knew that Communists see nudity at the beach as the epitome of classlessness? It makes sense. We then went to the Christmas market at Alexanderplatz where we went on a big wheel and ate fudge. We went back to the hotel, put the boys to bed and then I went to the Checkpoint Charlie Museum.
We started off with The Wall Panorama experience, then I went on the FREE Walking Tour in the morning whilst Jared took the boys to the Zoo. Then we did a quick changeover around 2pm – Jared went on the Third Reich tour and I took the boys back to the hotel to play, read, sleep and have a bath. Around 5pm we headed out to meet Jared and we all went to the Charlottenburg Palace Christmas Market, where Winston had a major meltdown over hot chocolate…not awkward at all. We got back to the hotel shortly before 9pm and then Jared went to the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. I read my book. Lots of the museums are open really late in Berlin which suited us brilliantly.
Rufus had a cough and didn’t sleep well (at all), and of course toddlers have their (many) moments, but we had a really wonderful time.
Berlin – thanks for having us!