In the middle of last year’s extreme summer heat and my fifth month of pregnancy, we planned a last minute trip of 2 and half weeks to Berlin, Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn and Helsinki. We were secretly hoping that – at least in some of these destinations – we would be able to escape the summer heat. This turned out to be wishful thinking since even in Helsinki the temperature would not drop under 30 degrees during the day.
The first stop of our summer vacation was Berlin, where we stayed 3 and a half days. None of us had ever been there before. Once we arrived we ordered an Uber to bring us to the hotel and were happy to find out that there is a legal obligation on the taxi/Uber to provide a booster seat for kids. Apparently if you call a taxi/uber you need to mention that you need a booster seat otherwise they won’t transport you. We stayed at the Hotel Palace Berlin across the Berlin Zoo and the Bikini Mall. This proved to be a great location since the Bikini Mall across the street had a variety of healthy food options and the bus to get everywhere in the centre stopped almost right in front of the hotel. Since Berlin has so much to offer, it would have been a pity to visit only the kid friendly places. Therefore both my husband and I visited a few museums on our own while the other one had some fun with our son.
Here is the what we liked the most:
– walk around random streets in the centre and just go with the flow in this vibrant city;
– visit the Checkpoint Charlie, the best known wall crossing point between East and West Germany and one of the symbols of the Cold War;
– the DDR museum, an immersive, interactive experience in the everyday life of East Germany. I grew up in Romania, so many of the displayed items were familiar to me;
– boat cruise on the Spree River between the Reichstag and Nicholas’ Quarter;
– The roof terrace and dome of the Reichstag Building; in order to visit this, you need to register in advance and have identification documents with you once you visit;
– The Brandenburg Gate;
– Walk along the former Berlin Wall (East Side Gallery) with its impressive graffiti. Our son really loved this;
– While I was enjoying a day on my own, my husband took our son to the Museum of Natural History and to the Museum of Technology. Both were excellent choices with a three year old. What more can you want than to see life-size dinosaurs, trains and planes? Or to let a talking robot guide you around the museum?
-While my husband enjoyed a day on his own I took our son to the Berlin Zoo. I think he liked the playground a lot more than the zoo. I am not a fan of zoo’s in general and I find the ones we have in the Netherlands a lot better attended.
– I visited on my own the fantastic Neues Museum. I was initially planning to go to the Pergamon Museum but the queues were 2 hours long or 1 hour with tickets purchased in advance. I would have waited patiently but given that I was 5 months pregnant, I could not stand so long in the burning sun. There were no special queues. Anyway, I was very happy with my choice of going to the Neues Museum. I spent about 4 hours there. It is located in a beautiful neoclassical building and it hosts an impressive collection of 9.000 beautiful, interesting and unusual objects spread across three major historical collections. The major highlight is the unimaginably perfect Bust of Nefertiti. Four hours of history where I felt that time hasn’t passed a bit.
-I also visited the German History Museum, a walk through the major German historic events.
-I loved the multitude of vintage shops
-My husband visited the Topographie des Terrors, illustrating the rise to power and use of propaganda of Adolf Hitler.
-He then went to die Mauer, an impressive life sized 15 by 60 meter 270 degrees panorama painting showing how a divided Berlin looked in the 1980s.
-Then he saw the Palace of Tears, the place where many people from East Germany would escape to Western Germany to never return.
-Then he went to climb the beautiful Berliner Dom.
-For a more modern experience, he visited the German Spy Museum, which turned out to be quite interesting, clearly putting James Bond-type gadgets in the ‘non-fiction’ category.
-Finally, he went to the Holocaust Memorial. Visiting this cannot be taken lightly. The stories told there give a small glimpse of the suffering during the holocaust.
Overall, Berlin is so overwhelming, so energic so back and forth in time. We could have stayed a lot more. I would certainly recommend it to everyone looking for a city trip with kids of all ages.