I have three children, they aren’t really kids anymore. With two in college and one in high school they are pretty much grown, for the most part. This past weekend we decided to head to Berlin for some really cool family fun before school begins again. I’m so glad we did. People ask me often, “How do you make everyone happy on a road-trip?” Well, you can’t make everyone happy all the time, however, I have figured out a formula that involves compassion, understanding, cooperation and admiration AND everybody gets to see their MUST-SEEs!
Don’t worry, I share this formula in the personalized itineraries I create for my clients too ~ want more info – CLICK HERE!
Today’s blog includes five really COOL things we did in Berlin that couldn’t be more different. I’m not sure about you, but my kiddo’s aren’t alike very much, eclectic is an understatement for my crew. Here are our highlights from an unforgettable weekend in Berlin.
We stayed in a hotel close to town, Upper Room Hotel in Kurfürstendamm – Breitscheidplatz. The reviews on booking.com and TripAdvisor weren’t great, but the location was ideal. It is summer in Germany and although we had a cold snap, I knew to bring FANS!! Air-conditioning is NOT NORMAL in Europe, if you travel by car – bring them with you ~ or request one in your reservation. Most of the complaints were that it was an older hotel and the staff was rude. However, awesome reviews were for the HUGE breakfast and that they had parking on-site. Both accounts were correct, however, none of the dings were deal breakers for me at €100/night for 2 suites that could sleep 7, in the busiest travel month, I knew we would be happy for our short weekend stay here.
SommerFEST in Breitscheidplatz
The hotel was within walking distance from one of the largest shopping districts in Berlin and they happened to be having a SOMMERFEST this very weekend! We enjoyed our evenings listening to 80’s jams til 11 p.m. – cool music fun for my son and shopping for my little one!
We enjoyed curry würst – a Berlin specialty and some fun and fruity summer beers. Jessica also had a ball with the trampoline and Bungee-Jumpy-thing ~
2. SeaLIFE BERLIN
This was one of Jess’s must-see’s in Berlin. I would absolutely recommend purchasing your tickets on-line for SeaLIFE prior to going and book a specific time for your day. We paid almost €8 more/person when we “popped” in. Bummer, I know. It turned out to be about €100 for all of us to go – which is about €50 out of my comfort zone.
It was very cool and I think it would be a huge hit for young ones, but if you’ve been to the Hamburg Zoo or even Chattanooga Aquarium it’s hard to compete. My favorite was the Aquarium elevator.
After our ride up and down the elevator, we got a giggle jag on when we noticed there were three sushi bars right next to the Aquarium, kinda weird, huh?
When we got on the elevator the operator asked everyone in the crowd if they would like the information in English also, we hesitated in our response, this seemed to irritate him and he didn’t give us the whole schpeel, oh well. It was very beautiful and gave me the impression of being in a fish tank myself. By the way, don’t think I’d like it.
3. Art Exhibit – From Monet to Kandinsky
Katy our oldest loves art, Art History is her minor in college and she paints quite a bit. She has taught us so much over the years and she found an art exhibit “From Monet to Kandinsky” in the Nicolai Viertel neighborhood. One of the oldest neighborhoods in all Berlin. (Making Momma happy)
This neighborhood is flanked with Renaissance period architecture and Gothic churches where Martin Luther spent some time too. We decided to grab a bite to eat at the Nußbaum. Old menus and small dining rooms made me feel like we were set back in time. Our stop in the pub surrounded us with locals and some warm soup and ale.
After our lunch we headed over to the exhibit in the Berlin Stadt Bibliothek. This beautiful building set across from the Red Courthouse (Rote Rathaus) had signs and arrows pointing you to a Bohemian style exhibit. At €8.50/person we were invited in to watch a 360-degree movie adaptation of all the famous artists from the Impressionist era. Everyone sat on the floor with bean bags chairs surrounded by this art movie and classical music ~ a very well done display. We enjoyed it quite a bit!
Here are some of the highlights ~
4. Berlin at Night
I love roaming the streets at night in European towns – most of them take on a different personalities. Entertainment and street performers line the tourist spots and cafe’s sometimes stay open late and have Open Mic nights. We walked through the Tier Park (similar to NYC’s Central Park) from Brandenburg Gate to the Victory Tower and the tree-lined park leading to the statuesque monument was stunning.
It closes at 9:00 p.m., so we had to “hoof it” to the top in order to make the last panoramic view before closing. It was a €6/person to climb the stairs and they had a museum set up explaining the history of this monument created for King Frederick the Great after winning the Prussian War in the 1700’s. This Hohenzollern King had the longest reign and throughout all Berlin we saw dedications to him.
5. Shopping in Berlin
This might not be a “cool” thing for the non-shoppers out there, but I’m here to tell you, my Jessica – it’s her super power. She excels at it and knows how to find deals and discounts too. But whether it is the farmers or flea markets or the many, many malls of Berlin, she’s on top of it. Here are a few photos of what we came across on our walks through Berlin.
If you like shopping in New York, Paris, London or Milan, Berlin should also be on your list.
Other cool things around Berlin ~
United Buddy Bear Project
If you haven’t signed up for my HOW TO TAKE THE TRAIN CLASS yet, it’s o.k. I have another one coming up soon! But you’ll definitely want to take the bus and train when you get to Berlin. It’s €19.50/day for an all-day pass for up to 5 people and includes all busses and trains. Their train system is very similar to Stuttgart, DC and LA (it is end of line) they come quite often too, like every 2 to 4 minutes.
Another question I get asked quite often is “How do you find these really cool things?” I read a lot of other blogs and research, it’s my favorite. I don’t always use the internet, sometimes I old school it and talk to people or pick up local newspapers and flyers. One of the best resources I have found are the European tourist offices. They list local events and fests not found on the interweb. So there you have it music, art, shopping, old architecture, beer and good eats. Pretty much sums up our happy family trips!