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Old 13 Dec 18, 09:08 PM  
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smithlane
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Christmas Markets and more! Berlin Nov/Dec 2018 - Travel day

Travel day - Friday 30th November

Alarm was set for 5.30am. Only when I go on holiday do I witness this time of the day
Bit of a scrum for the bathroom as Jim needed to get ready for work, the kids for school and me, mum and sister had to get in too!
Without too much stress we were all ready by 7.15 when the taxi arrived. Huge kisses and hugs to Jim, Hope, Sam & Boris the dog. I was going to really miss them... Kind of
Mum soon ushered me out of the door and into the taxi before I came a blubbering mess. Thankfully itís only a 10 minute journey to Heathrow T5.
As I had checked in online we went straight to bag drop. I had had an email from BA to say they were at full capacity so we could check in our hand luggage for free which was handy. A ground crew member helped us tag the bags and we were soon done and heading through security. Again not a long queue here although I was treated to a full rub down!
All thoughts turned to breakfast so we headed downstairs to the Wetherspoons. Found a table and ordered through the app. This is so easy.
I went with the American breakfast with a Diet Pepsi, Helena the Vegetarian breakfast with orange juice and mum the Berry aÁai bowl with a croissant and a cappuccino. £30 altogether
It came very quickly and was all really yummy! 3 clean plates all round.







We sat for a while chatting then took a walk over to the shops.









WHSmith first where I bought 2 interior design magazines, we are redoing our kitchen in the new year so was after some inspiration. My sister got herself a couple of books. From here we had a look in Duty Free where I treated myself to my favourite Molton Brown shower gel.
We had a seat and waited for our gate to be shown at 9.15. Only waited a few minutes and it came up B3. All the way down the other end of the terminal!



It hadnít started boarding so we took a seat.





They called Group 1 first but as usual the hoards decided to queue up too. Honestly what is wrong with people, the queue was wrapped around the hall! We, like normal people waited until there was only a few people left before lining up. We still had ages to wait in the tunnel as it transpired people were faffing getting in their seats. My god it took forever
We were row 7, seats A, B and C and guess what it took me approximately 10 seconds to get in my seat! Got my iPad out and settled down to watch an episode of the Handmaids Tale I had downloaded through Sky Go.
Take off was scheduled for 10.05, We were 30 mins late in taking off but it was no big deal. Flight was meant to be 2 hours but we landed at 12pm (1pm Germany time) so only 1hr 25min.
Weather didnít look great. Grey and drizzling!
Got off the plane quickly and very impressed that passport control was literally just as you exit the tunnel. Straight through there and luggage carousel was directly in front of you. It started after 5 mins but unfortunately after the first couple of suitcases it ground to a halt. Waited about 30 minutes for our cases to come round then we were straight out. This terminal is tiny, everything is in one room!
Walked round to the taxi terminal and got one immediately! In the taxi by 2pm.
There was quite a bit of traffic but we pulled up outside The Westin Grand at about 2.40. First impressions were wow it was indeed very Grand!













Lovely lady at check in who said our room was available now which was great. Beautiful lobby and bar area.







Our room was on the 5th floor right down the end of the corridor.
Room was very nice. We had an extra bed put in so took a bit more space up but we still had plenty. The view from the balcony was fab, we were so central and literally down the road from the Brandenburg Gate.

















We took a bit of time unpacking then put a few extra layers on as it was freezing outside ready to go and explore. We had a 5pm tour of the Reichstag Dome as well.
Started off heading east towards the Gendarmenmarkt to the Christmas Market they have there.







Not far to walk, there was a bit of a queue for tickets and as we only had about an hour and a half before we needed to be at the Reichstag we decided to leave it for now as we didnít want to rush looking around.
We were getting a bit peckish as breakfast seemed a distant memory so tried to find a cafe for a snack to tie us over until dinner. Proved a bit difficult to find at first but ended up in a tiny cafe that served 6 different kinds of soup. We each had a bowl of German sausage and potato soup. Each with a Diet Coke.



This was exactly what we needed, really warmed us up as not only was it bitter outside but it had started raining too. The soup was yummy, my sister is now trying to find a recipe to try and recreate it!
It was now time to head towards the Reichstag. Took around 20 mins to walk there.









We needed to go to the visitor centre first to go through security. Slight mayhem in here, they are very strict about showing photo ID. This is a free tour but you do have to prebook through their website. You choose 3 dates and times and enter full names with dates of births for each person visiting then wait for them to email you back with one of the dates you entered.
There is airport style security scanners and once through we were held for a few mins to maintain the flow of the crowds.
We were walked over into the main building by a guide then shown to the lift to take us up.



We got given an audio guide then let loose to tour the dome at your own pace. The audio commentary starts automatically as you start the walk up the spiral walkway. It points out the various landmarks you can see as well as the history of the Reichstag building and dome itself. It was all very interesting but we probably would have seen more in the daylight. Was very pretty with all the lights though.



















Didnít realise it would be exposed to the elements in there, the roof of the dome is actually open but built in a way that the rain doesnít get inside. It was freezing so by the time we reached the top and took some photos we soon went straight down.
Was very interesting to look down into one of the parliament chambers down in the basement of the building. I wonder what they were debating today!



Once we had descended we decided to head back to the hotel to have a drink in the bar to warm up.



Our hotel is really close to the Brandenburg Gate so didnít take long to get back. Got a table in the bar area and ordered a hot chocolate and Diet Coke for me, a Mojito for Helena and a Campari cocktail for mum. It was lovely to sit down and chill out for a while. There was a piano playing in the foyer which was just lovely.
We stayed here until about 7.30 then decided to stick close by to the hotel for dinner and go to an Italian restaurant we had passed earlier. It was literally around the corner.
Got seated straight away. A man on the next table had a giant bowl of spaghetti Bolognese that looked amazing so I went with that, Mum did too. H went for the chicken salad. We had some garlic focaccia and mozzarella, tomato and pesto crostini to start with. All food came out promptly and was all really yummy!
Again it was just what we needed, a plateful of carbs. Apologies no photos though, trip report fail!
I was stuffed but as usual I always have room for dessert . They did gelato so I went with a bowl of chocolate and vanilla, H had strawberry sorbet and mum just had a coffee. So good!
Bill came to Ä60.
We headed back to the hotel now but stopped at the Ampleman store that was on the corner. Berlin has stores dedicated to the East German red and green pedestrian crossing men! Lots of cute bits in here. H & I got these Christmas tree decorations and I got some jelly sweets in the shape of the Amplemen. Very similar to Haribo.



Back to the hotel now and straight up to our room. It was about 9pm so got ready for bed and chilled out reading and watching NCIS on TV.

Edited at 09:51 PM.
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Old 14 Dec 18, 02:38 PM  
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CrispyA
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We loved Ampelman too! Looks like a great day despite the rain.
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Old 14 Dec 18, 02:46 PM  
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dogken
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We're going to Berlin tomorrow for 5 days, love the vibe from the city and the Christmas markets this time of year, we could only get Monday night at 8pm for the Reichstag tour so that'll be interesting.
Can't wait
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Old 14 Dec 18, 10:00 PM  
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smithlane
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Originally Posted by CrispyA View Post
We loved Ampelman too! Looks like a great day despite the rain.
Thanks Elizabeth, yes despite the rain we really loved the feel of Berlin already!
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Old 14 Dec 18, 10:02 PM  
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smithlane
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Originally Posted by dogken View Post
We're going to Berlin tomorrow for 5 days, love the vibe from the city and the Christmas markets this time of year, we could only get Monday night at 8pm for the Reichstag tour so that'll be interesting.
Can't wait
Oh wow I hope you have a great time. I hope you've packed plenty of layers as it was Baltic when we were there . I'm so jealous, with 5 days you'll get to do loads of the Christmas markets, have you been before?
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Old 15 Dec 18, 12:41 PM  
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Originally Posted by smithlane View Post
Oh wow I hope you have a great time. I hope you've packed plenty of layers as it was Baltic when we were there . I'm so jealous, with 5 days you'll get to do loads of the Christmas markets, have you been before?
Yes itís our third time for Christmas, weíve just finished packing and yes Iíve packed quite a lot of layers , weíll be heading to the airport about 2 oíclock just hope this bad weather forecast doesnít mess with the flights, looking forward to it because it takes your mind off the hectic Christmas back home, if you know what I mean
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Old 28 Dec 18, 01:10 PM  
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That was an early wake up and you did well to keep going all day. The photos of Berlin at night are fab.Your hotel looks lovely, it sounds like this was a great trip for you all. Oh and I love the Amplemen decorations!
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Old 4 Jan 19, 09:12 PM  
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great start
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Old 9 Jan 19, 09:58 PM  
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smithlane
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Originally Posted by Goldia View Post
That was an early wake up and you did well to keep going all day. The photos of Berlin at night are fab.Your hotel looks lovely, it sounds like this was a great trip for you all. Oh and I love the Amplemen decorations!
Hey I'm so sorry I've only just realised these replies were on here! It was a really long day but really enjoyable. The hotel was just amazing, we were really lucky to be staying there
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Old 9 Jan 19, 09:58 PM  
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Originally Posted by disney owl View Post
great start
Thank you for reading
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