Three weeks ago, yes it took me that long to find enough round tuits to finish this post, Millfams first trip off the Irish maintain was last weekend. Our first destination was Berlin Germany to see the sights and visit Wes and his wife Cari. The kids were surprisingly chipper in the morning, considering when we woke them at 0330, and asked them to walk a mile in the rain. After the wake up we were out the door by 0400 and walked about 1.8k in the lashing rain to the Clayton hotel. Where we boarded the air coach Bus to the airport. The bus was a ?quick? 40 minute ride to the airport. Not knowing our airport yet we got off the bus at the wrong terminal.
Oh well, it was only a 10 minute walk to the correct terminal for Ryanair. At the Ryanair terminal we had to speak with a person to check our passports for visas, which we don’t need, but process!. From passport control, another 10 minute walk to security check point. Another 10 minute walk until we found some food. Burger King was our choice and did not have a breakfast menu. We had burgers and chicken nuggets for 6am breakfast. Sadly we spent 40 minutes waiting for, then eating Burger King breakfast which sucked up all of our time to explore the airport.
The flight to Berlin is our first experience with mega discount carrier, Ryanair. They’re a discount no frills airline with the goal of having the cheapest flights. It shows in their seats. No screens, no ability to recline, no seat back pocket, no magazine, the safety card is a sticker on the seat back in front of you, seats are made from the cheapest materials possible, mostly plastic, no free drink service, not even a vomit bag. While these things are nice to have the flight is only a few hours long. Personally, I’m totally ok foregoing comfort in exchange for saving money per ticket when we’re buying 5 tickets, soon to buy 6 tickets when we go places.
Shortly after take off , while looking out a window, Maddex says “wow it looks like a map only in real life and bigger!” He was able to identify a few big land marks like Howth and Dun Laonghaire port from the air before we were too far above the clouds and out to sea. It’s impressive how quickly he’s learning maps. After the view ended he was on to playing games in his iPhone.
We board the plane in Dublin from the rear, and deplaned in Berlin from the front of the plane. Loading and unloaded both directly to and from the tarmac. Most of the EU airports we’ve been through don’t have gangways like we’re used to in US airports. Loading and unloading with a moving set of stairs means we’re able to use both front and rear exits. Which is nice and makes things go a bit quicker. At Schonfeld airport we walked inside and were immediately in a passport control queue. We exited passport control directly into baggage claim, picked up our bags and exited the airport. Was nice to not have to walk for miles in an airport.
A short walk later with a herd of people below a covered walk way and we were at a train station. Michelle and Maddex were in charge of the trains for the trip. They quickly worked out what train we needed to be on to make it to the hotel, then we waited on the platform. It was a bit cold and windy on the platform. Mila, my little engineer, took everyone’s bags and created herself a fortress to hide from the wind in. We took a large train from Schonfeld to a train station under the TV tower, then we took the m48 bus to our hotel.
By now it’s about noon, the gal behind the check-in desk says our hotel room will not be ready untill 3. Which is a bit of a bummer because it’s cold out, and lashing rain. The gal behind the counter does offer to store our luggage for us so we don’t have to lug it around in the rain. After stowing our luggage we check out a map on the phones and notice the Mall of Berlin is a short walk from where we are. Malls have indoor space to walk around and food; off we go to the mall.
At the mall we walked about a bit, killed some time, took some escalators, saw some flowers, ate some food and discovered Curry worst – mmm that shit is good!!
On the way back to the hotel we popped into subway as much as possible to cross under the road and avoid the rain. We also saw a few sections of the Berlin wall.
It was less than ideal weather for a family of 6 to be out walking around touring a city so we spent the rest of the night in our hotel room watching movies on the surface. We were all passed out sleeping by about 8pm. While we were in our room listening to all of the traffic sounds on the street below we didn’t really notice it but Berlin was being hit by a horrible wind and rain storm. The wind was so bad that trees were knocked down all over the city
Storm damage was bad enough they actually closed most of the trains in and out of the city for a few days. – This matters to us because Wes and his wife were supposed to come in that night on a train. Sad face they never made it into Berlin for a visit. I took a bunch of pictures of trees down all over the city and was going to do a post titles “Berlin will rebuild” – but I lost about 2 days worth of pictures when Roxi reformatted my phone on our third night in Berlin. I have since removed work email and Intune from my phone.
The reformatted phone is one of the reasons this took me so long to finish. I was annoyed about missing pictures. The work policy applied to my phones gives you 4 login attempts then it reformats your phone. Normal bad passwords have a hard check before they reformat. Like asking you enter A1B2C3 before letting you enter the last reformatting password. Not my work policy! four bad and you are done. It only takes Roxi about 8 seconds to enter the password incorrectly 4 times and reformat my phone…..
Day 2 – walking day
Day 2 we spent walking around the town to the tune of about 20k by the time we finished the day. We walked to Brandenburg gate, the Jewish memorial, mall of Berlin, we found some massive teeter totters we could not use, walked around the Sony center, found a park to play in, ate curry worst, introduced the kids to soft pretzels, shopped at a REWE, took a ride on the Sbahn, found a year round christmas store we toured, toured the Kaiser Wilhelm church ( well what was left of it ), happened on some massive 9 store department store when we needed a washroom break, found lego land, walked along a river – eventually we made it back to the hotel for cereal before night-time, then we went back out to watch the light show on the gate.
The light show was pretty cool. They setup huge projectors in big booths and project images on buildings around the city. The lights were cool but the highlights for the kids was a small robot who came rolling around the crowd asking if anyone had trash.
Day 3 – Trains
Our third day in Berlin we dedicated to ridding around on the Berlin subway system. Michelle and Maddex picked our route and we rode for most of the day and made it only on a small percentage of the system. The berlin subway system is massive. It goes above ground, below ground, on the ground, all over the place. Some of the stations are old ornate massive things, some are new massive things, others are simply a stop on the side of the street with a sign indicating subway.
Rough outline of our route in purple lines below; as you can see we only rode a fraction of the lines.
Day four – Last day.
Day four is our last our last full day in the city and we’ve decided to go visit Gliters party palace, known to the locals as Charlottenburg palace again Maddex and Michelle planned out the subway route, again they did a smashing job. They’re becoming experts now. There was a massive crowd in front of palace when we arrived for a 5k and 10k race around the area. We took care of lunch at a brat cart setup for the race – thanks racers for providing lunch.
The palace tour was a hit with the kids. Thankfully they did not break anything at all. We were not allowed to take our kid carries with us in the palace; we had to check them in a coat room and lug Roxi around by hand. The palace has a large art collection we were able to see as part of the tour, complete with a crown jewels in a vault. I like to notice things – there were bars on windows, seismographs in almost every room, security gates, cameras, the works for security. The place was locked down tight.
The only bummer of the tour, due to storm damage the garden and grounds around the palace were closed to visitors. Instead of the grounds we walked along the river and found a pirate ship play area for the kids to play on for a bit. – From there back home to attempt to work out what to eat when most places are closed due to sunday. We ended up with some yogurt drinks, milk to cereal for the kids, and some donor meat kabab for Michelle and I.
The last day
last day was an early train ride to the airport, 2 hour flight Dublin, hour bus ride to the clayton then a mile walk home.
Berlin will Rebuild
The wind damage pictures left over after Roxi deleted the good ones. Trees and signs and motorcycles down all over the city. A bit shocking to us because we hardly noticed the wind over the road noise and the traffic noise in our room. Something was up with the heat in the room and the only way to keep it cool was the leave the window open. Leaving the window open meant it was loud and some times the side ways rain made it into the room = Yeah adventure.