December 16, 2013

Thanksgiving in Berlin

Over the Thanksgiving break, we finally made a trip to Berlin, capital of Germany and 5th largest city in Europe. It was about time! We've lived in Germany now for two years this stretch, and we lived here over four years two years before that. Frank was psyched to drive the whole trip, even in the city, because we had a five series BMW that was pretty amazing (I won a free rental in a contest). Frank had it on cruise control going 125 miles per hour on the way up. I took a picture as evidence below.

We stayed at the SANA Berlin hotel mainly because it has apartments (two rooms, kitchen, and living room) which works best for our family, and was in a convenient part of town (close to the zoo and shopping district), and wasn't too expensive. It was pretty nice, with an organic breakfast buffet we tried one morning that was quite good but pricey. For the rest of our breakfasts and lunches, we used groceries we brought from  home and from the Edeka market across the street.
Checking in at the SANA Berlin Hotel
Lily and her crazy morning hair!
 If you ask the kids, their favorite part was a playground we found in the huge Grosser Tiergarten park. The Tiergarten is 520 acres, with beautiful walking paths, ponds, and houses the zoo and aquarium. Gorgeous. I can only imagine it in the summer. The place to hang out for families with little kids. If we return, I'd love to walk the whole park and eat at one of the beer gardens scattered throughout the forest.

Cooper building a "bonfire" with his digger.

Being winter, the weather did not always cooperate with us over the long weekend. Cold and wet Friday morning, we decided we'd check out the Aquarium vs. the zoo, and it was well worth the visit. Cooper and Lily loved it! The aquarium is not very big, and isn't all jazzed up like the ones in the states we've been to, but the variety of fish, reptiles, and amphibians they have is unreal! Really unique creatures that were fascinating to read about, and fascinating to watch.

Being winter has its advantages in Germany. Christmas markets in every popular neighborhood center in Berlin! Ice skating rinks were being smoothed out, and fake snow was blowing down a large sledding ramp in Potsdamer Platz. Life size whirly gigs, gluhwein, chocolate almonds, and plenty of rides for kids. Frank took Cooper and Lily on a huge ferris wheel ride at the Berliner Dom while I purchased Christmas gifts from the plethora of craft booths.
Taken using my 50mm lens on my DSLR. Couldn't capture the whole thing!

Taken with the iPhone while walking past. Handy to have both while touring the city.

Frank and I wanted to make sure we saw at least a few of the historical monuments/sights of the city, so we walked with the kids (Lily on our backs and Cooper in the stroller) for a few miles starting at the Brandenburg Gate, down the boulevard of linden trees, to the Berlin Wall, and then to Museum Island. Literally every block of the city has amazing monuments or historical placards. You could easily spend a month exploring.

Touching the Berlin Wall

The Berliner Dom, located on Museum Island.

Hoping we can visit Berlin again in warmer weather, but it's hard for us to return any place we've been since there are so many more places I want to visit in my life at least once! How about you all? Do you like to return to places you know are wonderful, or do you tend to try new places out each vacation you take?

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