Berlin is such a diverse place! Incredible history, an edgy art and nightclub scene and an ongoing parade of the latest shopping and dining are just some of the things to do. Our visit was part of a big, 3 week European road trip. The weekend in Berlin included lots of bike riding and beer drinking. (But not necessarily in that order). If you have time for a weekend in Berlin, here are my picks to make it memorable.
We checked in at the Westin Grand Berlin with points we had accumulated on our Starwood American Express. At arrival, the front desk upgraded us to a junior suite.
The hotel is perfectly situated in central Berlin. Most landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate and Museum Island are a short walk away. The kids loved unwinding in the hotel’s indoor pool room, while we relaxed in the adjacent whirlpool.
The Westin Grand Berlin’s concierge desk is one of the best we have come across. The concierge recommended we try the fantastic dry aged steak at Filetstück (moderate to expensive). The restaurant is located in Prenzlauer Berg. The atmosphere at Filetstück was elegant but friendly. Charli our dog was welcome to sit inside and drool while we dined on incredible steak cuts. The girls fell in love with the warm, freshly baked breads including pumpernickel and rye. The service at Filetstück was impeccable, with attentive staff.
After dinner, we took the kids and Charli back to the Westin for bed. We adults went out for a drink at Tausend, a hard to find bar and club with no signs, through an iron gate, underneath the railroad tracks. Once in, we were greeted by a super cool, mirrored space with curvy walls, great music and Berlin’s fashion model and art set. Unfortunately, the Westin Heavenly Bed was calling us. We didn’t stay at Tausend past 2 drinks.
Rent bikes at one of the many local shops. Bike rentals are cheap and the selection is high quality. Little B, our 8-year-old, scored a bike any nostalgic child of the Seventies would love: a banana seat, low rider with chopper style handlebars and a sissy bar back rest.
Berlin is a city well enjoyed on wheels. After a late start, we spent Saturday riding through the enormous Tiergarten park, with a visit to the zoo. Beautifully wooded and in the middle of town, the park’s borders include the Bradenburg Gate, Spree River and Berlin Zoo.
At the southwestern section of the park, we enjoyed a late lunch at the Cafe am Neuen See, an outdoor beer garden next to a duck pond where you can rent rowboats. Beer is the specialty, as well as baked goods like pretzels, pizza and cakes.
[bctt tweet=”Drinking beer and taking in the Berlin sun while the kids fed ducks pretzels is a perfect break.”]
On the way back to the hotel we made the mandatory stop for chocolate at the iconic Fassbender and Rausch chocolate boutique.
It’s like Disneyland for chocolate lovers. There are chocolate city sculptures, a giant chocolate teddy bear, various organized chocolate specialty sections and a chocolate restaurant and cafe. Free samples abound! More than $100 later, we emerged deliriously high and pumped on chocolate.
The kids burned the chocolate off during pool time back at the Westin. We learned our lesson to not let an 8-year-old indulge in too much chocolate when we saw Little B swimming and doing cannonballs into the pool, all while loudly weeping and laughing at the same time. Pool time over.
Once Little B’s meltdown was done, we ventured off to find somewhere to eat. Many restaurants in Berlin are dog friendly, so Charli came along for the ride. Charli is a German Short-haired Pointer. She was really taking in the Motherland.
Our restaurant of choice was Lowenbraü (inexpensive). We were lured by memories of our dads drinking Lowenbraü and watching da Bears play football on TV. There was nothing but loads of elderly people inside. We figured that 200 old people must know a thing or two about a traditional german meal, wouldn’t you agree?
We enjoyed giant portions of hearty, home cooked foods and big steins of cold beer.
After dinner, we dropped Charli off and checked out Berlin’s jazz scene. We hit a couple of neighboring jazz clubs: A-Trane and Quasimodo. The venues featured eclectic acts performing jazz and soul funk.
We chose to keep the bike theme going for Sunday. We booked a tour called Berlin on Bike City Tours. A guide would lead the 4 of us and a few other bikers through Berlin’s most interesting historical landmarks. The graffiti and street art were eye-catching.
We would stop at several points where the guide would give us some historical information and answer any questions while we explored. Stops included The Berlin Wall, Museum Island and Hitler’s Bunker. The tour took us through a secret hidden archway and into an old courtyard where you can still find bullet holes in the exterior building’s brick from the World War II era. I couldn’t find this place again if I tried. I’m glad we saw it.
After retracing 800 years of Berlin history, we arrived back near the hotel. We relaxed at a cafe where we enjoyed one last beer, while the kids ate schnitzel and fries. Sunday night concluded with packing and preparing for our Monday morning departure.
Our weekend in Berlin was a great time for all! We saw just a small sampling of what the city has to offer. You could probably stay for a good week to take more time to get to know this cool city.
When we returned our bikes, I offered to buy Little B’s funky bike from the rental shop .They shot me down right away with a straight-up no. I asked them to name a price. I would have probably gone as high as $300 for the low rider! Alas, no luck. Sadly rejected, we left Berlin. That banana seat bike would have been the perfect souvenir.