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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