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Unread 21 Apr 17, 11:55 AM  
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#1
CrispyA
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Join Date: Oct 11
Bier, Bratwurst und Bahnsteige: Berlin 2017 Travel Day

This trip was booked when the Ryanair schedules came out in October 2016. We had talked about a short European trip over Easter before but by the time we got to looking at flights, all the bargains had gone. We were a bit more organised this year and got a good price to Berlin.

We weren't too fussed about where we went, but had heard good things about Berlin and chose it on that basis. We were flying out on Paul's birthday, Easter Sunday, and back on the following Thursday. Choosing to fly on the Sunday halved the price of the flights, so it was a real no-brainer.

Hannah studied German for a short while at school and I have German A-level - but I haven't spoken it for many years and it was seriously rusty. I did spend some time practising using Duolingo app on the lead up to the trip, so I did feel slightly more comfortable with the language.

Meet the cast



Here we all are in Rocky Mountain National Park last summer.

Elizabeth: Chief planner and organiser. Main German speaker.

Paul: Birthday boy. Likes travelling by train and efficiency.

Hannah: Best photo poser. Back up German speaker. Studied Germany in history.

Evan: Loves meat, particularly sausages. Excited about being legally old enough to drink beer in Germany.

We got packed on the Saturday, after dropping Lulu the cat off at Cat Hotel for her own little holiday. She is never thrilled by the prospect but always settles down when she gets there.

We had decided to go with hand luggage only as it was a short trip. Clotheswise, that was fine but it was a bit of a struggle to manage with toiletries. I had bought a load of tiny travel items, such as deodorants and hair gel, and we just about managed a 20cm x 20cm bag of toiletries each, with the boys taking a couple of make up items in theirs. I know we could have bought items in Germany but we wouldn't have been able to bring them home and I hate waste.

It felt strange to be packing for cold weather when we are used to packing shorts and t-shirts. We usually have a packing list that everyone uses but I hadn't bothered this time, thinking that they didn't need one. Turns out Evan did . . . He managed to forget pyjamas and packed 4 t-shirts but only one warm top.

We got up on Sunday morning and gave Paul his cards and presents which he was pleased with. Then, after breakfast, we got in the car to set off to Manchester airport. We usually prefer to go by train but for some reason, the trains were really expensive and it was much cheaper to drive. We had booked parking at Hunters and it wasn't difficult to find and very good value for money.

Having parked, we got the shuttle to the airport and headed straight for Security. The staff were very clear in all their instructions but the woman next to me kept ignoring what the man was telling her to do and he was getting quite exasperated with her. She reacted by being really rude and slamming her trays onto the conveyer belt. I did see her making a complaint about the security staff afterwards but I hope the supervisor didn't take it seriously - she was the one in the wrong.

In contrast, Hannah and I did as we were advised and put our things in separate trays and were through in no time! There was then the wait in Terminal 3 which is never fun. However, we did go for a beer as it was a special occasion and it made Paul a bit happier!

The flight was on time and we didn't have to wait too long to go to the gate. We got there early enough to make sure we didn't have to put our cases in the hold, which was a bonus.

Here is Paul modelling his very special passport neck pouch that the kids mock endlessly but is very useful!



And here is me with the kids, looking particularly short!



The flight was fine - it took about an hour and forty minutes and the staff were very efficient. Paul enjoyed his Lavazza coffee on board and it wasn't long before we were touching down at Berlin Schonefeld Airport.

The first task, after finding the the station, was to buy tickets. We did take the easy option and use the English language option on the machine. The tickets were straightforward - a single journey for each of us with a reduced fare for Evan. It was the only machine we came across that took credit cards though. We validated the tickets (very important!) and found our way to the S-Bahn platform.

The train journey was nice - the S-Bahn goes above ground so you can see where you are. We had to change at Ostkreuz but the signage was really clear so it wasn't difficult. I had found the train map a bit difficult to follow compared to something like the London Underground map but once you got used to it, it was okay.

We got off at Savignyplatz in Charlottenburg and then realised that I hadn't printed a very good map from the hotel directions. Also, we had come out of the wrong exit at Savignyplatz, so none of the street signs were on the map. I hadn't set up my 3 feel at home properly either, so no google maps. We wandered up and down the road, hoping to see a sign for Knesebeckstrasse where our hotel was, but no luck.

In the end, I went into a Japanese restaurant and attempted to ask for directions. They were very lovely and found our hotel on Google maps for us and showed us where to go. My German was very creaky but we managed!

We had booked the Hotel Otto through an ad on Tripadvisor and it turned out to be a great find. Charlottenburg is a little way out but not too far, and it's a lovely area with wide streets and lots of trees.

The hotel was lovely - all very minimalist in design and very comfortable. We had a family room with 2 single beds for the kids and there was plenty of space. There was a separate dressing room with a mirror that made for much less fraught mornings as we weren't all on top of each other.

Paul had requested a typical German restaurant for his birthday meal, and I had booked the Dicke Wirtin (the Fat Landlady) which was just down the road. I managed to get my 3 sim card working so we could get directions on my phone as we walked and it wasn't hard to find.

The Dicke Wirtin is a cosy bar/restaurant with lots of wood panelling and decorations everywhere. The waiters were really friendly and very tolerant of our attempts at German. There was also a small veggie section on the menu for Hannah.

Evan went for a Bratwurst with sauerkraut, while Paul and I had the Berliner Teller - a mixed plate of Berlin specials including Currywurst, Bratwurst, meatballs and pork, with potatoes. Hannah had the Spatzle, which are German noodles, in a cheese and onions sauce. Most exciting, however, was that both kids could legally order beer. We agreed that they could, so both had a small Pils, while Paul and I sampled some other German beers.



We had a lovely meal and a really fun evening. I even managed to successfully order a small bottle of their brandy liqueur to take away which I was quite proud of! We joked about the waiter returning with a large ham or an item of furniture but he did, in fact, return with a small bottle of liqueur - result!

Back at the hotel, we all gave a thumbs up to Berlin so far and settled down for the night.




Edited at 02:56 PM.
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Unread 21 Apr 17, 03:26 PM  
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Melbatb
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Join Date: Dec 13
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I have been lucky to have visited Berlin before and after the wall! It is a lovely city!

Your travel day seems to have gone well! Looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip!
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Unread 21 Apr 17, 07:12 PM  
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CrispyA
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Join Date: Oct 11
Thanks. It did all go pretty smoothly, apart from the getting a bit lost bit!
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Unread 22 Apr 17, 08:33 PM  
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Mortimer Mouse
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We liked the Berlin underground system. The hardest part was working out which way the train was going.
We only went for the day as we found it hard to find a cheap hotel that slept 4 people, let alone the 5 that we needed. Our flights were only 40 quid each, which was only 15 more than it costs us to get the train into London for the day!
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Unread 23 Apr 17, 02:35 PM  
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#5
CrispyA
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Join Date: Oct 11
Originally Posted by Mortimer Mouse View Post
We liked the Berlin underground system. The hardest part was working out which way the train was going.
We only went for the day as we found it hard to find a cheap hotel that slept 4 people, let alone the 5 that we needed. Our flights were only 40 quid each, which was only 15 more than it costs us to get the train into London for the day!
Bargain flights! If you fancy going again, the Hotel Otto was pretty reasonable and I think they do a bigger family room.
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Unread 25 Apr 17, 10:04 PM  
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katiebaz
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Great travel day and the meal looks great. Shame about the problems finding the hotel but well done on getting directions in German too!
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Unread 4 Oct 18, 09:52 PM  
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smithlane
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A great travel day! You did well in getting the train from the airport, we were going to just jump in a cab but you've got me thinking it sounds quite easy so may do that instead.
Restaurant sounds great, its on the list!
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Unread 5 Oct 18, 10:19 AM  
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#8
CrispyA
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Originally Posted by smithlane View Post
A great travel day! You did well in getting the train from the airport, we were going to just jump in a cab but you've got me thinking it sounds quite easy so may do that instead.
Restaurant sounds great, its on the list!
The transport system is really good and it was pretty easy to get from the airport into the city. I would definitely recommend the restaurant - you can book via the their website.
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