Monday, November 09, 2015

A week in Berlin

We spent the last week of October this year in Berlin. This was M's first international vacation, and we wanted to do a week of slow travel. We had heard a lot about Berlin from friends, about how modern and kid-friendly the city was, and so the choice.

The top three highlights of our trip were:

a. The Berlin Zoo: M loved it. While the zoo is a fairly small area relative to Indian zoos, the collection is quite diverse. The giraffe's, the chimps, gorillas and rhino's were particular hits. It was also pretty great that one can get very close to the animals, due to the glass-based cages rather than the traditional metallic ones. A big hit with kids.

b. The Reichstag building; The refurbished glass dome structure is beautiful. By far one of the best monuments we have ever been to. Provides a panoramic view of Berlin. We reached near sundown and the views were spectacular. M slept through half of the visit, till we reached about the top, and then woke up to start bawling; so we had to beat a hasty exit. A must visit in Berlin.

c. Potsdam - A short 15 min ride from Berlin, this historic and quaint town with cobbled streets was a gem. The Sanssouci palace is rather impressive and the multitude of cafe's cook up a rather yummy fare. Took us about a day to cover, but one could easily spend more time here.

Other things we loved - the Brandenburg gate (one can't spend enough time staring at Irene and all the history she has presided over), the Museum Island (one of the most impressive museum quarters anywhere), the Alexanderplatz station area (one can spend an entire day people watching here), Gendarmenmarket square (and the chocolateers nearby to binge at), the Wall (the paintings, and the Trabi museums around), and of course the Sunday market at Maueurpark (what a festive atmosphere!).

When we headed to Berlin, we received advice that perhaps a week in Berlin was too much time spent. With a toddler in tow, nothing could be further from the truth. One needs a week to cover a small town, let alone a city the scale of Berlin.

Berlin has an incredible variety of things to see and do. For vegetarians, the vegan restaurants offer a great solace and of course, the waffles, stollen and chocolates everywhere are a gourmet's delight. It also helps that Berlin is so incredibly kid friendly - people everywhere lend a helping hand and a kind word, and there are enough things to do to keep the little energies occupied.