Our next trip takes place in a couple of weeks and this time we are off to Berlin. I love visiting places where there is lots to see and do as this really allows you to get a true feeling for the country and I particularly love capital cities.
Having never visited Berlin before, or even Germany, this is a first for me in lots of ways. I am looking forward to sampling a German Christmas Market, local foods (I keep hearing about Currywurst!) and visiting famous landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the Holocaust Memorial, the television tower and the Reichstag.
As always, I purchased my Lonely Planet Travel Guide and have been reading it and noting down a rough itinerary. We are only there for around 48 hours and this is one of the best ways to ensure you make the most of the time you have.
We booked this trip after seeing an offer on Travelzoo. We were not planning on going away again, having only recently returned from VENICE, but this offer was too good to miss! The holiday is through British Airways and is for return flights to Berlin and two nights accommodation with breakfast and cost £449 for the four of us – that’s only £112.25 per person! Additional costs are petrol (as we are driving to the airport), parking at the airport and, of course, spending money.
We have booked parking in the Heathrow Long Stay car park and have booked this through the Heathrow Airport Parking website, at a cost of £50.25, which is a lot cheaper than trying to go by train for the four of us. There are regular bus transfers from the car park to the terminal. It is a long time since I have flown from Heathrow and I am really looking forward to seeing what the airport is like these days. The kids are looking forward to flying from a big airport too. I also used Quidco prior to going on the Heathrow parking website and earned £3.77 in cashback.
Our flight leaves fairly early in the morning, so we had originally planned to leave in the early hours to drive down and then treat ourselves to breakfast at the airport and had budgeted for this. However, I thought I would check out some hotels in the area and found a Travelodge which is 15 minutes away from the airport for only £40.90 for the night – that is for all four of us, in one room and INCLUDES BREAKFAST – and this works out cheaper than just eating breakfast at the airport. Not only that, but AGAIN I used Quidco to make the booking and received 82p in cashback – not a huge amount, but it all adds up and was money I would have been spending anyway.
We plan to get the airport bus – Jetexpress TXL. This will take us right into the heart of Berlin. From there we will either walk or take the underground trains to the sights we plan to visit. As with most European cities, I expect the transport links will be amazing.
One piece of information worth noting is that not many places in Germany accept credit cards. It is the Government’s way of preventing debt. If you haven’t got the cash you can’t buy it! We like to take pre-paid travel money cards with us as well as some cash. The cards are linked to your bank account, so you can transfer money on to them at any time and then withdraw it as cash from a cash machine. Some places also accept the cards like a debit card in the UK but we have had instances in Europe where the cards just give an error message and are not accepted.
We are travelling with hand luggage only. This not only keeps the cost down but allows us to start sightseeing the minute we land. We each have our own backpack.
It will be cold. The temperatures are just above freezing at the moment and considering the warmish temperatures we are having at the moment, I am sure we will feel the cold. I will be wrapped in lots of layers and will look like the Michelin Man lol!
We have been planning a list of the main sights we would like to see and here they are, in no particular order:
Yes, the football stadium. With two football mad kids, this is always at the top of their list!
This parliamentary building is one of the most symbolic buildings in Berlin. It has a rooftop terrace and an amazing glass dome which if open to the public. Beware though – you have to book in advance to be allowed entry. It is open each day from 8 am to midnight.
The Brandenburg Gate is another well known sight in Berlin. The gate originally stood in East Berlin after the war. We want to view this both in the daytime and at night, when it is brightly lit.
Located near the Brandenburg Gate, this field of concrete slabs is a dramatic representation of the millions of murdered Jews.
Originally the only crossing point for non-Germans between East-West Berlin. Today you can see a replica checkpoint booth and a museum which shows the building of the Berlin wall and the lengths that people went to trying to escape from the East. Entry to the museum is €12.50 for adults and €9.50 for children up to the age of 18.
Grosse Hamburger Strasse Memorial
Located in what was the Jewish area of Berlin, an old people’s home was used as a detention centre for those waiting to be sent to Auschwitz. A memorial, life-sized statues of a group of Jews being led to the camps, now stands in it’s place.
One of the busiest shopping areas and home for many major chains. Very often shown on the TV whenever they are mentioning Berlin.
Going at this time of year you will inevitably come across lots of wonderful Christmas markets and in Berlin there are reportedly a whopping 60!
One of the tallest structures in Europe, this television tower has amazing views of Berlin. There is a viewing platform 203m up in the metal sphere. It also holds a rotating café/bar. Apparently, there can be quite a queue for the lifts, so we will see whether we have the time to pull this one in. There is also a cost involved of around €13.00 for adults and €8.50 for children. You can also book fast track tickets for an additional fee.
The kids are looking forward to Pokemon hunting. They loved Pokemon Go in the Summer but it got a bit boring only be able to catch the same Pokemon. However, they managed to catch some of the more unusual Pokemon in Barcelona and in Venice this year, so are hopeful for some new Pokemon in Berlin.
I will write about Berlin again on my return to tell you all about what we actually got up to, what our highlights were and any further tips we find out.
I hope you have enjoyed an insight to Berlin (as viewed by myself, of course). If anyone has any hints or tips for us, please pop them in the comments.