Showing posts with label Berlin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Berlin. Show all posts

Thursday, May 10, 2012

2010 Europe Trip Journal Week 2, Hamburg-Berlin-Dresden

Day 8: June 29th.  Today we fought to get out of the Malmo Renaissance by 9:00 only to find out that it was a 5 minute walk to the train station and the ride to Copenhagen is 30 minutes.  Our train left Copenhagen at 11:45 for Hamburg and we arrived at 4:20.  There was a portion of our train ride where our train was loaded on to a ferry and we went across the water to the German coast.  It was pretty interesting.
Gwen on ferry ride approaching German coast
The Marriott in Hamburg is in the middle of the city and quite nice.  It's the first hotel we've had with so far with a pool.  We ate at a roadside cafe and had Italian food.  The food has definitely been the most expensive part of the trip.  We'll go in to buy a few pieces of bread, some drinks and candy and walk out paying $30.  Good thing living in Hawaii has made us sort of numb to that.
Hamburg train station
Day 9:  June 30th.  Buster needs to catch up on his sleep.  These last few days have included a lot of travel, some late nights and a lot of time strapped to a stroller.  A deadly combination for Buster.  We've had a few melt downs in the last couple days and he's repeatedly used one of his favorite new phrases "GO AWAY."  He's also really in to punching.  he turns into quite the bully when he's tired.

We left Hamburg at 12:00 for Berlin.  We arrived at 1:45.  The arrival didn't go as smoothly as planned.  Katie got off the train with the kids and the stroller.  I walked back to get the crib and the luggage and the doors to the train closed.  Suddenly the train started to pull away.  I motioned for Katie to stay where she was.  I got off on the next stop and had to wait about 40 minutes before the next train went back.  Katie sat in place with the kids for about an hour.  She had no idea how long I'd be gone, she didn't have a phone, money, passport or anything.  We were lucky I was able to get back so quickly and that we found each other.

The train station in Berlin was very elegant and clean.  We took a taxi to the Courtyard where the kids and Katie are taking naps.  I'm exicted to be in Berlin and keep thinking what a feat it would have been for an American to be here just 20 years ago. 
Bombed out cathedral in Berlin
Day 10:  July 1st.  Today was a tiring day.  We left the room around 10:00 and went to the grocery store.  We picked up a few things and then hopped on the subway.  From there we went to the zoo.  Berlin has one of the best zoos in the world.  The kids had a good time and really enjoyed the large playground there.  We then decided to walk around.  We saw an old bombed out cathedral from WWII.  We then walked through Tiergarten back to our hotel.  Tiergarten is a huge nature park in the middle of the city.  We did see a bunch of naked dudes out sunning themselves which was kind of strange.  We walked on to Potsdammer Platz which is a very modern part of the city that has been built in the space that became available when the wall was taken down.  We saw a brick lin of pavers that outlined where The Wall once stood.  All in all we walked about 6 miles.  I was proud of Gwen for keeping up.
Gwen and Mason playing on the playground at the Berlin Zoo
Day 11:  July 2nd.  Today we moved hotels from the Courtyard to the Berlin Marriott-which is more gwen's style of hotel.  It is a very nice hotel in a great part of the city.  The Berlin Wall actually went right through the middle of the hotel, our room would have been on the East German side.  On our cab ride here we passed Checkpoint Charlie and one of the few parts of The Wall that is still standing.  After unpacking, we walked down to the Brandenburg Gate and explored around the old part of town, a lot of churches, museums, universities, all located on the East Berlin side.  We saw the spot of the famous Nazi book burning.  We tried our first "currywurst" which was basically bratwurst smothered in curry sauce.  We got another "yum" from Buster and even Gwen tried it and liked it.  We've been proud of her for trying a few new things while we've been here.  We ended up the day going to the pool.
Katie and Gwen at the Brandenburg Gate
Day 12:  July 3rd.  We finally decided to take it easy today.  We did a little grocery shopping, and bought some German chocolat (not as good as Swedish).  We bought our tickets to go to Dresden and Prague.  We then took it easy in our room before Gwen and I went to Tiergarten to watch a German World Cup match.  There were 1,000,000 people in the park.  It was intense every time Germany scored a goal.  The final score was 4-0 Germany over Argentina.  Cars drove by honking and waving German flags for 6 hours after the match.  The country is crazy about soccer.  Gwen had a good time.  Later she and I went to the movies to see "Shreck" while katie and Buster went down to the pool.
Gwen watching Germany in World Cup at Tiergarten
Day 14:  July 4th.  We left Berlin around 10:00 to go to Dresden.  The train was extremely hot.  Holding Mason didn't make it any cooler.  I'm not sure how that kids manages to get so hot!  We pulled into Dresden and it really is a beautiful city.  They have restored many of the old churches and castles that sit right on the Elbe.  Our hotel is right across the river from these old building and it is an amazing site.  We walked through town and ate at a lovely street side cafe in town with Mason screaming.  The travel days are tough of him.  He finally fell asleep in his stroller right about the time we got back to the hotel.  We ended up going to the pool with the kids after Gwen asked about 30 times.  The hotel is in a nice location but the rooms at the Dresden Westin are quite poor.  There is no A/C and it made for a long sweaty night.
Katie grabbing a pastry in Berlin train station

View across the Elbe at the old buildings of Dresden

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Great Playgrounds in Europe

As any family traveler can attest to, finding a playground can be a huge mood changer for everyone.  After sitting in a stroller or walking miles to see a cathedral or driving hours to take in the scenery, the sight of a playground on the horizon usually evokes screams from our kids of “there’s a playground, lets go play!”

We took a 6-week trip through Europe and stumbled across a few great playgrounds.  Here are some of the best playgrounds we found.

Ralambshovsparken-This park is full of open spaces for picnics with views of Gamla Stan.  It sits right next to the water and has a fun playground with slides for little kids and a tire swing for older kids.  A walking trail from this park leads into Gamla Stan and is a beautiful 20 minute walk.  It was a great place to run off some steam at the end of the day and was right across the street from our hotel, Courtyard Stockholm Kungsholmen.
View of Gamla Stan 
Mason on tricycle
Gwen doesn't stand a chance
Mason loves to swing

Kinderspielplatz-This isn’t exactly a “free” park, but was very cool.  It’s a section inside the Berlin Zoo (Zoologischer Garten).  It is a huge sandbox with large slides and rope bridges.  You can tell the attorney’s haven’t taken all the fun out of being a kid in this park.  The park looks like zoo cages and is quite clean.  It is surrounded by places to eat and buy ice cream.

Berlin Zoo Park
Getting up the courage to slide
Gwen loved this park

The Charles Bridge Playground-One of the most amazing parks we found in Europe, and not because of the park itself, but the location.  It is located directly under the Charles Bridge on the left bank of the Bltava River.  It is a welcomed oasis for families after the mandatory miles you walk enjoying the sites of Old Prague.  It was amazing to find this park sitting on such a valuable piece of real estate.

Crazy location for a park
Nice find

Lake Fuschl Beach and Pool-We stumbled across this place while driving through the Austrian Alps and for me it was my favorite part of our European Trip.  It is about a 30 minute drive from Salzburg.  Next to a crystal clear mountain lake is this family swim hall.  We were clearly the only Americans there.  The pool was nice, the waterslide dropping into the lake was fun, but for me, the best was to just swim in the lake that was so clean, locals drank the water.  If you swim out about 100 feet from shore, there is a floating dock with two diving boards.  One amazing, beautiful find on our vacation.
I was surprised how warm the water was
I loved this place
Mason wants in
Gwen with a nice dive

I couldn’t find the name of this park.  Locals call it “Bagdad” because of how immense the sandbox.  If you’re walking from Zurich toward the lake, stay on the left bank of the lake and walk about 15 minutes.  You’ll soon see a HUGE family playground that has things kids of all ages would enjoy.  If I wouldn’t have looked like a “Strange American” I would have played on this playground.

This picture captured about 1/10 of this playground
Luxembourg Gardens Playground-There is a small fee to enter this playground, but as a traveler, it’s fun to see your kids playing side by side with kids speaking as many as 15 different languages.  The park is centrally located with good crepe stands just outside.  Our daughter loved climbing the 20 foot bungee replica of The Eiffel Tower.  A great little find in Paris
Gwen climbing the Eiffel Tower
Mason is hiding in that train somewhere.  He loves trains

Mason and Gwen riding horses next to playground

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hotel Review: Berlin Marriott Hotel Stop 4

On our trip through Europe during the summer of 2010 we spent a few nights at The Berlin Marriott Hotel.  Overall, it was a very nice hotel and met all the standards you would expect from an American branded hotel, which isn’t always the case in Europe.

The hotel is situated in the ultra modern “Potsdamer Platz” which is now the pretty much the center of Berlin.  Potsdamer Platz has a great movie theater that includes movies in English, subway access, restaurants and shopping.  Across the street is a shopping center that had an excellent grocery store if you’re tired of eating at restaurants.  Potsdamer Platz was built over an area where the Berlin Wall once stood and there are still pieces of The Wall.  A line of brick pavers are on the ground to represent where the wall once stood.  As it turns out, those pavers go right through the Marriott Hotel and we realized that our room actually was in the old Eastern Berlin.

Also close to the hotel were the Brandenburg Gate and The Holocaust Museum.  Both were within a 5 minutes walk.  Also within a block of the Marriott Hotel is the famous Tiergarten.  It is a beautiful city park that covers several square miles.  At the far end of the park is the famous Berlin Zoo.  Berlin also has one of the best subway/train systems in all of Europe.

The rooms are very spacious and since the building is new construction, it includes all the modern amenities including air conditioning.  The bathrooms are spacious with both a shower and bathtub.  The rooms are clean and the staff is quite helpful.  Room service was prompt and the food was delicious.  It had an indoor pool and a very nice work out area.  The concierge level was one of the best we’ve seen. 

We didn’t really find any great restaurants in the area and had to take subways to get to more traditional parts of Berlin.  The Potsdamer Platz area is very modern and nice, but lacks a little bit of charm.

I’d highly recommend this hotel to anyone staying in Berlin.
Kids at the Berlin Zoo

The children's playground at the Berlin Zoo.

A sample of WWII bombing of old Berlin

Just outside Potsdamer Platz

Mason soaking in the history of The Brandenburg Gate

Gwen in front of The Berlin Wall

Gwen at Tiergarten during a German World Cup Match

Sunday, December 4, 2011

"Just Stay Right Here" as the Train Pulls out of the Berlin Haptbahnhof

We've had many train rides across Europe.  Some were beautiful rides through the countryside and some were horrible rides in 100 degree heat.  The most interesting train moment on our trip was our arrival in Berlin.  By the time we got to Berlin, we had a pretty smooth system for disembarking having made a few previous stops.  Katie would jump up, rush the kids to the door, and get them on the platform.  I would run over to our luggage, drag it from beneath any items that other travelers had placed on top, and take them piece-by-piece to hand off to Katie.  We were careful about how much we took and all we had with us were one huge 75 pound bag, two backpacks, Mason’s stroller and his pack and play bed. 

As the train was grinding to a stop in the beautiful Berlin train station (nicest station we saw), Katie hopped out with the kids.  I rushed over and passed out the stroller.  Went back and handed out Mason’s pack and play.  I was stepping up to the door our huge back in tow and the doors closed.  It was by far the quickest stop our entire trip.  I pushed a button to try to reopen the doors but nothing.  I could see Katie on the other side of the doors as the train slowly jerked and began pulling away.  I mouthed to her, “Just stay right here.” 

I had all our passports, money and phones.  We both knew we were going to The Berlin Marriott, but she wouldn’t have had any way to get there without money or the ability to check in without her passports.  Also, we had taken a bullet train, which meant there were few stops.  I knew the next stop for the train we were on Dresden, some 2 ½ hours away.  That meant Katie would have to wait at the train station by herself for a minimum 5 hours and that would only be if there was a high speed train returning to Berlin from Dresden the second I got there.

It was a huge relief when the train came to a stop on the eastern outskirts of Berlin at one final station before the ride to Dresden.  I got out with our bag, took the next train back and was reunited with our family about an hour after we were separated.  Katie kept her head and was calm. 

We learned from that point to make sure we each have some money, we each have our own passports and both of us have a phone and they’re charged.  As the saying goes, “you never know.”  It’s best to be prepared.  
Berlin Haptbahnhof (Train Station)

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