Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Travel Guide: Berlin ( Family trip )

I've been trying to complete this blogpost since we visited Berlin as a family of 3 the end of August/beginning of September but you know yourself, life can be busy. As we adored the city, I wanted to compile everything we got up to as it is a fantastic destination to explore. Best of all, to be able to fly from Kerry airport is an added bonus making it really accessible if you live nearby. 



FLIGHT/AIRPORT:

The Ryanair flight runs twice a week in the summer from Kerry airport, Wednesday evening (which we took) is 20.05, gets in at 23.35 German time. Our flight ended up being an hour delayed which was quite late travelling with a child by the time you get your bags etc so if going again I would be more in favour of travelling on Sunday which is 17.35 and gets you in for 21.05. Flight cost including 2 x 10kg bags checked in and booked seats were €250. However, when I checked a couple of weeks later they had gone down even more so just to keep in mind when booking. You know Ryanair, it's hard to gauge at times. Flight time is roughly 2 hrs 30 mins, you're there before you know it. Schonfeld Airport isn't that big and roughly just under 18km outside the city. Once we arrived and as it was quite late, we got a taxi to our hotel which cost €50. 


ACCOMMODATION:

We stayed in the Tempelhof-Schonberg borough, we were around a 3-minute walk if even to the U-Bahn and there are many shops within walking distance like the Kadawe department store (like Selfridge's, Brown Thomas) and many others like Zara, Primark, H&M etc. The Zoo is also within walking distance. 
Sorat Hotel Ambassador was the name of the hotel, the overall impression was it was grand but I wouldn't be rushing to stay again. 
I knew the hotel had no air conditioning as I researched before booking and from what I was looking up there were very few hotels with it. Those that had it were completely out of our budget so we hoped for the best but wow, never again would I stay somewhere in the Summer without it again. It was 31 degrees roughly for the first 4 days until it went down to the '20s but for those first few days, all we had were 2 fans trying to keep us cool. Opening the window and keeping it open wasn't an option as it had no child safety on it so I couldn't relax if it was opened at night. So it was a complete sweatbox and extremely hard to sleep. You can imagine, we did not look forward to returning to our room any of the days. 
There was also no English speaking channels except the news which was another disaster even though it said they had Satellite TV so I assumed there has to be but my mistake. Lesson learned, bring your laptop so you have the option of watching Netflix when you need to chill.
I paid to include breakfast to make it easier with River which worked out well as a breakfast averaged from €15pp so we saved in the long run. Breakfast had the usual pastries, the hot food like eggs, beans, sausages, bacon, potatoes and also cereals, toast, coffee, tea, juice etc. For 1 week for the 3 of us including Breakfast, we got it for €550 on booking.com which I felt was a good price.  I am level 2 on the booking.com genius loyalty programme which gives you discounts on selected hotels etc as otherwise, we would have been paying €800 as I had rung previously to enquire. If going again I would try for an Air B&B perhaps if I could find one suitable as I didn't when researching or just another hotel. Would also change to the Kreuzberg area as that was definitely our most visited borough for the entire trip, we loved it. Nevertheless, I imagine staying in the hotel in cooler weather it may have been a different experience as you couldn't fault the staff, they were lovely, the rooms were comfortable maybe a bit dated yes but they were clean and to have the breakfast included was handy. The location was great and the price was right for the duration of time we were there.

TRANSPORT:

The Berlin transport system is fantastic and so affordable! On our first day, we weren't sure of our surroundings and whether we wanted to buy a week-long ticket so we opted for a day ticket each which was €7 each covering zones AB. On the second day, when we weighed it up we bought a week ticket each for Zone ABC (as that covered our return trip to the airport) for €37.50 each. The number of trips we went on was unlimited but make sure you validate your ticket in one of the machines before you begin your trip in that 7 days or 1 day as your ticket isn't valid without doing this which could risk a fine. Tickets are checked regularly by inspectors, they are dressed in normal clothes so you wouldn't expect them until they start asking the passengers for tickets. With your tickets bought, you can use them on the buses and trams which I recommend you trying also to experience it overground too.




APPS RECOMMENDED FOR THE TRIP:

We would have been completely lost without the free citymapper app on our phones. You basically search where you want to go, say a certain restaurant and it calculates the routes you can take for you. I used it in New York in January too and it's just so handy, highly recommend. When you get to your destination and if you are required to walk for a certain distance, you just click on the walking part in the app and it guides you to your location. So easy!
Another app that I loved, as I love researching the area we are going to including all the restaurants etc is Ulmon/CityMaps2go which is also free and also an app I spoke about in my NY blogpost. It's basically an app of the city you are in and you search where you want to visit like what sights/buildings or restaurants and you saved them. They appear as stars on the map then which is handy for when you are in a particular area as you can see what else you would like to see that is close or in the area to save on time. 






What we got up to and visited:

We visited many of the Tourist spots like Checkpoint Charlie, The Berlin Wall, Memorial to the murdered Jews, Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag Building.
The Berlin Wall stretches quite far which is now covered in paintings by artists, it's easy to walk along with children in tow but we had our buggy just in case. 




We visited a really lovely outside place to eat at the beginning of the week when it was roasting in Kreuzberg that you eat your lunch surrounded by trees. It's called Flohmarkt im Prinzessinnengarten. They only do one food option on the menu for €6, it was vegan and tasted good. You can get teas, coffees, drinks, beers etc too.


Workshops also take place in flohmarkt prinzenstrabe


For the beginning of the week, it was roasting so we planned a trip to Badeschiff on Saturday which I highly recommend. It's in Kreuzberg. It's basically a swimming pool in a river with sand around the lounge areas. It's a swimmer only swimming pool so no kids are allowed. Even if they can swim, I wouldn't recommend it as the pool is really deep so I think it would be more enjoyed as a couple or with friends. Nevertheless, we obviously had River with us and others had their children so he played in the sand with the toys that are provided there. It's a nice way to enjoy the sun in the city. A day pass was €6.50 per adult, children under 6 are free. I advise getting there early (before 12) in the Summer to avoid the queues. It opens from 8am until 10pm. Although you can eat in Badeschiff (chips, sausages in bun etc) we found a lovely bar/restaurant near there too which is just by the river. It was called Freischwimmer.



On our way down to Freischwimmer

We brought River to the Berlin Zoo and the Museum of Natural History. I felt he was too young for the museum to enjoy it but he did like the zoo and also their playground. There are many playgrounds throughout the city in different areas and also public swimming pools. The zoo was €51 for a family ticket and the Natural History museum was €8 per adult, River was free entry.




FOOD RECOMMENDATIONS:

I really enjoy researching places to eat when visiting a new place and I tend to put a lot of work in from reading reviews, checking the menu and the easiest way to get to it. My favourite food to eat would be Asian and Italian but for this trip the majority as you will see is Asian.


ASIAN - 


  • Cocolo Ramen (Kreuzberg) -  The best Vietnamese food we tasted in Berlin, reasonably priced.
  • Wok Show (Prenzlauer Berg) - Really cheap. I got a rice dish with prawns for €6. Get the dumplings too, they're shareable. 20 for €12.50.
  • Umani (Prenzlauer Berg) I got a Bao Bun, was lovely. The kid's menu was great too.
  • Madami (Mitte) - Didn't make it here but it has good reviews.
  • Hamy Cafe (Kreuzberg) - Also didn't make it but good reviews too.
  • Miss Saigon (Kreuzberg) - Didn't make it but good reviews.

BURGERS -

  • Burgermeister (Kreuzberg) - I got a delicious vegan burger, highly recommend. Gary loved his burger & so did River. Chips to share with 2 drinks €25.30.
  • The Bird (Prenzlauer Berg) - Must try for next time, highly rated.
  • Shiso Burger (Mitte) - Also rated high.

ITALIAN - 

  • Vapiano (Templehof Schoneberg) - I love this restaurant & have eaten here in New York and London as they have numerous chains. It's affordable and easy to manage with kids. Pasta's average from around €8 up and you can get a Margherita pizza for just over €7. For kids, their meal costs 3.75. There are roughly 10 Vapiano restaurants located around the city.
MEXICAN -
  • Dolores (Templehof Schoneberg) - I loved the food here, it was healthy and tasted so fresh. Perfect for takeaway or a quick bite to eat if you like Burritos etc. The menu was Affordable too.









VINTAGE SHOPS

Again, Kreuzberg I found was the best area for vintage/second-hand stores. The ones I came across were Humana, Pick'nWeight Vintage Kilo Store and Mauerpark Flohmarkt (big flea market).







We look forward to returning to Berlin again someday, it's such a beautiful city.

Thanks for reading, 
Aifric xoxo



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Thursday, 13 June 2019

Travel Guide: Killarney, My Top places to Eat.

Killarney


Killarney is my hometown and one of the busiest tourist towns in Ireland, I've been wanting to do a guide of my top places to eat for a while and especially when you have kids with you. Having grown up in my mom's Vegetarian restaurant as a child, An Taelann for anyone that may remember. My love for good food definitely grew from there, surrounded by delicious home cooked food.


Places to Eat:

You are spoiled for choice with the number of restaurants in the town. I tend to stick with a few that I love for many reasons.



Lunch:

Khao Asian Street Food - They open at 12 daily for lunch, the menu is 10euro before 5pm includes ice cream after your food. Opened for dinner also. Ask for a child's portion of whatever they will eat as they don't have a separate menu. I usually get Tofo stir fry with rice for River. Favourites are the Bao Khao Pad, Pineapple Fried Rice with Tofu or Prawns and the Phad Thai.
Khao


Treyvaud's - I adore their menu and have tried almost everything. My favourites would have to be their pasta with smoked salmon and the Seafood Chowder. Many of the options are €10 and under.
Smoken Salmon Pasta - Treyvaud's


J.M Reidy's - They serve food daily from 12 - 6, vegan options too.
Loaded Nachos, Truffle Chips and a Breakfast option - Reidy's.


Petit Delice - They serve soup, sandwiches, salads but best of all the selection of fresh French pastries is the most mouthwatering. The almond croissant & crayfish salad are my favourites. They also have a small outside area.
Crayfish Salad at Petite Delice


The Heights Hotel - Great carvery lunch on a Sunday. Lots of Space, Good value and a Big feed.

Muckross House Restaurant- Carvery Lunch Served Daily but get there early as it gets busy.
Fantastic selection for lunch, even an amazing vegetarian option. If the weather is nice you can sit outside and the kids can play in the garden in front of you.


Avoca - Ok so, yes a bit out of Killarney and a bit of a drive (Molls Gap) but it is totally worth it and couldn't not include it! The salads, mains and desserts are divine.
Avoca

 Day time Quick/Take Away Options:

Supervalu: They serve carvery lunch to takeaway Mon - Fri, around 12ish to 3 as it's usually run out by then. Great for a quick baby bowl too for a couple of euro.

Gleeson's, Spar: I love their Rolls as they have a nice selection in their deli when you don't eat meat, lots of salad alternatives. They do takeaway soup too, hot deli counter and also have a small area if you need to sit and eat.

Der O' Sullivan's: Another great one for wraps, sandwiches etc and do other takeaway lunch options too.

Centra, New Street: They do amazing salads that they chop in front of you and also do takeaway carvery options. They also have a bigger shop on Muckross Road with great options.
Centra - New street



Evening Favourites:

The Lane Bar, Ross Hotel - Love their bar menu and cocktails.
Lane Bar


J.M Reidy's - For a few drinks I highly recommend here as they stop serving food at 6pm. They have the BEST cocktails, Pornstar Martini is a must. Large outdoor area with music on sometimes in the evenings or always at the weekends. Such a great buzz in there. Be prepared though, it gets busy so grab a table.
Reidy's


Casita Mexicana - I've been here on many occasion and it always impresses. Love the menu, cocktails and the staff are always fab.
Bean Enchilada with half chips/rice - Casita Mexicana


Genting Thai - Amazing Thai food the decor is stunning.

Khao Asian Food - Great all-rounder.

The Europe Hotel (Brasserie) - If it's food and Drinks with a view you're after, then this is a winner. You can have a bite to eat in the Brasserie then have a drink outside overlooking the lakes and mountains of Killarney.
The Europe Hotel


Lord Kenmares - Food is lovely, They also do an Early bird menu which is great value.

Bricin - The food never fails and staff are fab. Earlybird menu is available.

Afternoon Tea : 


Killarney Royal - Such good value at 12.50 each and it was delicious. Vegetarian option is also available.
Afternoon Tea at The Royal


There are plenty more hotels that do Afternoon Tea but personally think they are overpriced.



Breakfast/Brunch:


The Shire Cafe - I was recently here & thought their menu had a fantastic selection and well priced. From scrambled eggs & toast to pancakes, they have it all. They also do Lunch.

The Curious Cat Cafe - Lots of space to sit outside on a sunny day but there's inside also. They also serve lunch/dinner.


Vendrick's - They do lunch & Dinner too but I've just tried the Brunch so far which was great. It's really spacious so it suits everyone, groups, couples and kids.

Cafe du Parc at The Plaza - Great menu with more options like Avocado toast and French toast. Lunch available too.


Desire - Great for everyone, well-rounded menu with lunch/dinner options.
Desire


Brown Sugar Cafe - If you like a full Irish breakfast, they do a great one for 9.95 including the works.

Coffee & Cake Lovers : 


Noelle's  Cafe- My favourites are the lemon & poppyseed cake with chai tea latte. They also do savoury food if you fancy that too. 
Noelle's


Petit Delice - Great coffee, teas and so many cakes. As I mentioned earlier there are savoury choices also.
Petit Delice


Lir Cafe - Their Hot chocolate is yum and good coffee too.

Reidy's - They really tick the boxes for everything really. The decor alone will blow you away though.

Evening Takeaways

Usmania Indian Resturant Prawn Korma, Pilau Rice, Peshwari Naan are my favourites.


Piccolo - Love the Pizza even though it's on the expensive side but nice for a treat. They have just introduced bring your own Beer which is fantastic if you would like to sit down.



Just to note, These are just personal favourites I have listed and if you don't see a certain place on this list that you like, it only means I either haven't been there yet or like I said I have my preferences. 
However, do let me know if I am missing out on one of your favourites in the comments. 

Also, if you have older relatives who like their dinners then I recommend trying The Carragh Restaurant which is my granda's favourite when he comes from Cork and my mom suggested adding Sceil Eile also. The cake selection is actually really good in Sceil Eile too as is The Continental.  

Thank you for reading,
Aifric x




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