First family holiday to Berlin!

Seeing as my husband has been away for a total of 9 weeks since T was born 17 weeks ago we decided to make the most of all the leave he has built up (including his as yet untaken paternity leave….) and head off to Berlin for a long weekend.  The husband has been before when he was previously based in Germany but when questioned on what touristy things he had done he couldn’t really remember as by his own admittance he was probably fairly inebriated for most of the trip!
We set off on Saturday morning armed with a picnic destined for our chosen lunch stop of Potsdam.
During the 4 hour journey we needed one stop to feed and change T (he is an angel baby in the car and generally sleeps the whole time until he needs feeding) and did this at a motorway service station.  German service stations are generally considerably smaller than UK ones but what they lack in size they make up for in the important facilities – lovely clean toilets and spacious baby change rooms.  I am funny about public toilets but these ones are so clean you could eat your lunch off them… Granted you pay for the privilege of using them but for 70c (50c of which you can claim back using the voucher at the cafe or other service stations) you get a toilet seat that automatically turns round once you have flushed the loo and whilst spinning gets sprayed with disinfectant thus ensuring you always get a clean loo!  The baby change room had space for both us, a heater above the huge changing mat, a lovely clean sink and a massive bin to get rid of the waste.
Arriving at Potsdam for lunch we parked the car and walked into the Sanssouci Park.  This is a lovely place to wander around and has some fantastic buildings to look at.  We enjoyed our picnic (and allowed a vast array of insects to use us as their lunch too it later transpired….) in front of the New Palace before strolling through the park to look at some of the other buildings.  We finished off our little Potsdam stop off with a MASSIVE piece of erdbeerkuche mit sahne at Das Krongut am Schloss Sanssouci before piling back into the car again to carry on with the journey into Berlin.  Potsdam appeared to be a really lovely place and we were sorry not to be able to see more of it.
New Palace, Sanssouci Park
About an hour later (after driving on a bit of motorway that used to be a racing track and that still has the stands next to it!) we arrived at our hotel in Berlin.  We had chosen to stay in an apart hotel as with T in tow it seemed easier.  Having stayed in an Adina hotel before in Copenhagen we had booked into the Adina Checkpoint Charlie (there are two others as well as this one in Berlin) and we were very pleased with our spacious one bedroom apartment.  The hotel has underground secure parking, a swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, restaurant and gym and whilst we didn’t opt for it also provides breakfast for an extra charge.  We ate in the restaurant on our second night and had amazing ‘Aussie burgers’ which were huge slabs of meat with beetroot, egg and cheese accompanied by potato wedges. The only negative about the restaurant was that the wine list was quite expensive so I had to limit myself to one small glass as otherwise we would have potentially had to sell our child as well as our belongings…..  Overall I would thoroughly recommend these apartments (and would book in any of their other locations too) as they are clean, modern and well organised.  Only drawbacks were that the swimming pool was FREEZING and as T loves swimming this was slightly disappointing (he could only last about 5 minutes before starting to go blue which was a shame!) and that you have to have a key card to go EVERYWHERE in the hotel.  Whilst I can see why this is and appreciate the level of security it was also a bit of a pain in terms of checking in and out of the hotel whilst also using the underground parking.  Having checked in and taken T to our apartment whilst the husband parked I then had to go all the way back downstairs, and open about a million heavy doors using a key card whilst holding an increasingly heavy baby before he could get into the hotel.
Whilst in Berlin we had a fantastic time (despite the fact that the whole city is currently like a giant building site!) and saw pretty much all the touristy things we wanted to see.  Our first full day was Sunday so pretty much all shops were closed.  We had planned for this and so had a wander from our hotel up to Museuminsel where we walked through the Sunday flea and art markets and listened to some fantastic buskers.  We then went to the Berlin TV Tower.  We had pre-booked VIP tickets (would definitely recommend doing this if you can!) and therefore jumped the queues and were pretty much straight up in the lift (annoyingly without the buggy as they are not allowed…)  We had a walk around the viewing floor reading all the information before making our way to the revolving restaurant.  Because we had VIP tickets we had a window table reserved and so we were able to continue to enjoy the view whilst we had lunch revolving high above Berlin.  The food was pretty good although the lack of a buggy meant T had to be passed across the table and kept on our laps which he wasn’t particularly happy about!  In the afternoon we went to the very brilliant DDR museum (where we opened a little door in an exhibition wall and discovered some soft porn (highlight of the husband’s holiday I think…)), walked up to the Brandenburg Gate and then down to the Gendarmenmarkt for a much needed drink and more cake (himbeerkuche this time and obviously an essential part of the day when in Germany…) before going back to the hotel for another blue skin inducing, teeth chattering swim.
Berlin Dom

Berlin TV Tower
Finding this in a family museum was the best bit of my husband’s holiday….
The following day we walked to Checkpoint Charlie and enjoyed the fascinating (and free!) exhibition on the division of Berlin, Berlin Wall and subsequent collapse of the German Democratic Republic.  We then bought hop on hop off tickets for one of the city tours and had a great live English and German guide to all the main tourist sites.  We hopped off on Tauentzienstrasse and had a little wander around the shops.  It was naturally essential to visit Europe’s second largest department store KaDeWe (only Harrods is larger) where we had an overpriced and disappointing lunch on the top floor before making our way to the Tiergarten (a city centre park).  We had a nice walk around some of the Tiergarten (and were bitten by yet more bugs including a lovely tick….) before getting back on our bus to go back to the Gendarmenmarkt.  Whilst on the bus T did an epic runny poo which seeped through his trousers and meant he had to be stripped entirely and changed on a park bench once we had got off – thank God I had worn dark trousers because he shared some of it with me…. After partaking of my new favourite German drink Hugo we then visited the largest chocolatier in the world (apparently…) where we realised that it was essential we visit their cafe for some of their amazing chocolaty cakes.  OMG is all I can say!!! AMAZING!!! We then returned to our apartment to rest our huge bellies and sleep off all the food…..
We checked out the following morning and drove in pouring rain to Wolfenbuttel  (home of Jagermeister) which we had decided would be a good place to break the journey.  As it was raining we didn’t stay that long but it is a very beautiful place and definitely worth popping into if time allows.  Whilst there I also experienced a trip back in time to the toilet that style forgot….
This is totally how I would style my toilet if I had an orange one.
Overall, we had a lovely first family holiday and I was more than a little bit sad to have to come home….. On the plus side the main building works in Berlin will be finished in 2025 so we can return to see how things are looking when T is 12!!!! German efficiency will presumably ensure that when they say 2025 they mean it unlike in the UK when 2025 would feasibly translate as 2035…..