My top 10 things to do and see in Berlin

So we recently went to Berlin and I just wanted to write a quick post on what to do and see in Berlin, with a bit of advice now I’ve been there!

  1. Buy your Berlin Welcome Card in the airport – it covers your travel on any form of public transport as well as giving you a guidebook with discounts of loads of restaurants, theatres, tours and museums.
  2. Know the difference between S-Bahn with Strassenbahn – I didn’t when I first moved to Austria. S-Bahns are faster trains that go through the city (as opposed to U-Bahns that go underground) and Strassenbahns are trams – easy to hop on and off with your Berlin Card.
  3. Visit Brandenburg Gate. Yes, it’s touristy but it’s so iconic you just have to get a picture there! It’s right in the middle of the city and close to lots of other sites so you will end up there at some point anyway!Crazy bagpiper at Brandburg Gate
  4. Check out Checkpoint Charlie. Who doesn’t want to a take a picture with an American soldier? Aside from the historical aspect, there are some pretty cool things around there; a few museums and exhibitions, ‘Charlie’s Beach’ and just a great atmosphere in the area.IMG_3876
  5. Spend some time reflecting at the WW2 memorials.
  6. Postdam is a must-see. Give yourself at least half a day, if not a whole day there.

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    The other Brandenburg Gate, in Potsdam
  7. East Side Gallery – a short walk from Ostbahnhof, the East Side gallery is the largest part of the wall still standing, covered in artwork and graffiti. It’s really powerful and emotive, really worth seeing and spending some time reflecting on what life must have been like not so long ago.IMG_3884
  8. When it comes to food, Berlin has everything you could ever want. But personally, I think you’ve got to go traditional – visit Löwenbräu am Gendarmenmarkt for traditional Schnitzel, sausage and beer. You even get a 25% discount on Schnitzel with the Berlin Welcome Card.
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    Not exactly haute cuisine but delicious, filling comfort food

    Alternatively, if you want to get a taste of what it’s like for the locals you could head further east and check out White Trash Fast Food, where you can simultaneously get a tattoo and eat your dinner, all the while listening to live music. *Warning* you have to be pretty down with the kids to enter this establishment*

  9. Eat street food – a trip to Germany just wouldn’t be complete without a currywurst or durum kebab. Ask for East Berlin style if you prefer your sausages without the skin.

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    German food is not known for being light on the calories
  10. Alexanderplatz > Potsdamer Platz. Potsdamer Platz was a massive let down for me, I expected to see some really cool stuff but I didn’t. In Alexanderplatz, however, I got an amazing ice cream (visiting an ice cafe is something I HAVE to do whenever I’m in Germany) and the shops seemed a lot better and upmarket in Alexanderplatz. However – I didn’t want to spend my time shopping when there is so nuch more to see!!

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    Unfortunately, they ran out of Ferrero Rocher 😦

If you’re planning a trip to Berlin I would recommend at least 3 days to see quite a few things while still enjoying yourself. Have fun!

Paying it forward and the kindness of strangers 

I’m writing this just as I’ve got home from the supermarket. I must admit supermarket shopping is not my favourite task of the week, especially when I have both children with me. They often fight with each other, scream for food and try to climb out of the trolley (Aldi, why don’t you have seatbelts on the babyseats?!) But today I left the supermarket feeling pretty positive.

I always try and get round the supermarket as quick as possible, I make a concise list in the order that I find the items in the supermarket and rarely deviate from this, but today as I grabbed some bread off the shelf I found an older lady struggling to pull a loaf of bread out of the crate. She’d been there a little while I think, just tugging on it but because the crates were stacked on top of each other quite high she couldn’t pull it out. I was about to walk off when I noticed her, so I just said, “Do you need a hand?” and all I had to do was lift up the crate on top so she could pull the loaf out. No big deal. She got her bread and I got on with my shop.

I only had Elodie with me this time so it wasn’t so bad but she just won’t stay sitting down, she stands up in the seat and tries to climb out, on the lookout for food and excitement. It’s always a struggling getting through the tills with her at Aldi because they do it so quickly and then I have to pack the bags while she’s hanging perilously close to the edge of the trolley. But as I was packing the bags, a couple came over and talked to Elodie and the lady watched over her so I was able to pack my bags quickly and she made sure Elodie didn’t hurt herself. It wasn’t really a hardship for them, they maybe took them an extra minute or two to leave the shop but they got to coo over a cute baby and it really helped me out and I left the supermarket really positive and grateful for their help. So many times I’ve been struggling way more than I was today and thought, “Does nobody notice? Can nobody help?” So it was nice that somebody did notice there was a need and took some extra time to help me out.

I do try to ‘pay it forward’ when I can. I’m having a clearout at the moment as we’re moving house soon (more on that later) and posted a picture of a bunch of baby toys and a wooden walker on a local Facebook, free to collect. I got most of them for free either second hand or as a gift so I’m just grateful to have less to pack and if it helps somebody then that’s great, but I had some responses that really annoyed me. “Do they all work?” “There’s a scuff on the side.” …..Erm….they’re free. I’m pretty sure they do work…but if they don’t? Guess what….they were free. Have you heard of batteries? And yes, they’re second hand and have been used… if you want something in pristine condition go pay full price for it! I gave them to somebody who was very pleased to get them and picked up right away and I’m glad another baby will get some use out of the toys.

I wish more people would take time to be a bit more thoughtful and help people around them – I’m such a moody bitch and rarely think about anyone but myself so I really want to try harder with it – let’s call this a fresh start. I also wish more people would be grateful for the kindness of others and pass on that kindness!

My advice to a CHD family

Being told your child has a heart defect and needs surgery is probably one of the worst things you will ever hear. Nothing can prepare you for it, especially when all the doctors and nurses have been saying, “I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about.”

It’s been over 3 years since we found out about Bo’s defect and coming up 2 years since his operation so I thought I would share some things I’ve learnt.

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