Berlin: A Cultural city break for all the family
Berlin has it it all, bohemian lifestyle, art, culture and history. Junior Travel Writer Rebecca hay took her family to Germany for a 72hr whistle stop tour to dig out the highlights of the multi-cultural city.
Berlin – bursting with energy
The city has come a long way since it was divided by the now iconic wall, which separated the East from the West. Now it smacks of freedom and fun and there is so much to do and see in easy going Berlin.
Where to Stay: a chic base in the city
With a population of just under four million, there is plenty of accommodation to suit all pockets. A great and central hotel is the Lulu Guldsmeden Hotel near to the main transport hub and a real trendy spot too.
The four star eco hotel is chic and sustainable with reusable water bottles and planet friendly toiletries in their swish rooms, which feature four poster beds and a swing to allow you to play before sleep. Organic breakfasts are divine and the interior lives up to Berlin’s bohemian outlook and there is even a candy machine to keep everyone happy.
Fun fact: You may have trouble tearing the kids away from the outdoor part of the hotel, with its hammock style seats and trendy fairy lights.
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What to Do: ideas for all the family
Interactive technology is the latest approach to family friendly museums, making history come to life through play. The newly opened Cold War Museum and the equally cool Deutschland are great places to visit. Both use modern technology to interact with visitors who have little previous knowledge, but are keen for a quick historical fix and for those who want to join relatives who lived through the difficult times to see it from a different perspective. With Berlin’s rich history, there are many places dedicated to the goings on, but the newbies very much have the edge.
From entering the Cold War museum through the symbolic Iron Curtain, complete with bullet holes and images of famous politicians such as Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin to Helmet Kohl, Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Regan, you can immerse yourself in history through a series of interactive boards, which allow you to access and download more information through your smart phone.
With street art depicting scenes from the past and a brilliant virtual reality head set which allows you to capture iconic scenes, the museum tells the story of espionage, the space race, Vietnam war and nuclear disarmament, amongst others and allows you to literally tap your way through dramatic reconstructions of key moments in the Cold War. There’s impressive exhibits including a life sized nuclear bomb to NASA and Soviet space suits and a cool flying computer game.
Deutschland Museum, at the Potsdamer Platz, is 4D and uses modern technology to transport Germany’s history from the Varus Battle, through the ages, with expansive views, ambient sounds and smells. Cartoon images make it easy to follow and it’s basically allowing learning through play. It’s like an amusement park which teaches you about important issues which changed not only the country, but the world.
Both are near to the Berlin Wall and the Checkpoint Charlie museum which tells the story behind the monument, put up in 1961 and which fell in 1989 and the border crossing between the East and the West of the city.
From modern to ancient, a visit to the Pergamon Museum is a must, but you better be quick as in October it closes for a three year renovation. Dedicated to full scale reconstructions of architectural monuments from Greek and Roman times, it’s fascinating, especially the Pergamon Altar, a masterpiece of Hellenistic art, which depicts the Olympian Gods in battle with the Giants.
Fun fact: Berlin has 170 different museums to choose from.
Art Scene: see Berlin's talent up close
Art is a big thing in Berlin with spraycan enthusiasts leaving their mark on any free space they can find. The Friedrichshain suburb is a great place to see the best street art, with political and social conscience murals covering the walls and the East Side Gallery is where artists from the world descended in 1990 and put their artwork on the remaining section of the wall. Now a protected monument, the project includes the famous Kiss artwork, depicting two men locking lips to capture the symbolic moment of political unity between the Soviet Union and the GDR.
Fun fact: Iconic old style photo booths are also dotted around the district and a great tourist souvenir is a to sit inside and take a snap.
History and natural world: get out and about
The Brandenburg Gate is one of the city’s most famous landmarks, the 18th century neoclassical monument is steeped in history and is seen as a symbol of Germany’s reunification. Now a UNESCO world heritage site, it is protected, along with Museum Island, which along with the Pergamon houses important and beautiful buildings, which feature important cultural collections.
A breather from the city comes courtesy of a trip out to the Gardens of the World project . This green oasis offers the visitor an insight into different continents, epochs and cultures, from Asia right through to the Middle East, with art in the park too and a wonderful collection of flag bearing bears from around the world to signify Berlin’s emblem.
Another relaxing option is to catch one of the city’s sight-seeing catamaran’s which allow a lovely meander up the waterways to see Berlin’s historic buildings up close.
Fun fact: If there is a special event on, the Brandenburg Gate is lit up at night in beautiful neon colours.
Dining out: eat like a local
Hospitality is a big yes in Berlin and there are lots of different restaurants and bars to choose from, a quirky place to eat is Mikrokosmos, where chef Diego Castro creates dishes using insects as ingredients.
Hailing from Peru, Diego’s menu includes such delights as fried grasshoppers, crickets and mealworms with herbs and a dipping sauce and a volcano asparagus salad with caper crickets and lemon seaweed vinaigrette . Desserts are just as tasty with caramelized buffalo worms and chocolate mealworms an enticing choice.
Fun fact: Currywurst, a tasty sausage, is the most favourite dish in Berlin.
Tourist information: good to know
A must when in the city is the Berlin Welcome Card which not only gives discounts on museums, attractions and hospitality, but allows free public transport.
Flights to Berlin are available from all the UK major airports. Check out www.holidayextras.com for airport parking, lounges and transfers to make the journey more comfortable for the family.
Fun fact: A whopping 13.5 million visitors headed for Berlin last year.
Images courtesy of © GNTB