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Berlin Vacation

A family vacation to Berlin Germany

by Shirley
Berlin Vacation

Our family enjoyed Berlin Vacation over the summer 2023. Berlin is the capital of Germany, located in the northeast of Germany. An impressively large metropolitan city, Berlin used to be divided into two parts by Berlin Wall during the Cold War era.

Berlin Family Vacation experience

Berlin Vacation Impressions at-a-glance

Berlin reminds me of Shanghai in many ways, a gigantic metropolitan city. The sheer size, the vibrant atmosphere, the diversed and bountiful food choices, etc. Needless to say, I am sure lots of people may beg the difference. LOL.

It takes about 1 hour by train from the airport to the city center. Public transportation is easy to navigate. Just download the BVG app, buy the tickets and use immediately.

Tasty fast food is everywhere in Berlin. In most European cities, quality fast food usually is not available. You can get a pastry snack from a coffee shop, but if you have real food, you typically have to dine in at a sit-down restaurant.

We had Indian food upon arrival, and quickly found that one of the most popular food here is “döner”. Initially we confused it with American donut, but then realized they are essentially what we call shawarma or gyro in the U.S.. “Döner”, a Turkish word coming from dönmek, means to turn or rotate. We loved the döner sandwich in Berlin and later in Hamburg too. It appears doner kebab are one of the most popular fast food in Germany.

We had decent Chinese food too. Ming Dynasty West Berlin is next to Berlin Zoo and Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. They offer authentic Sichuan food with beautiful pagoda setting.

Ming Dynasty West Berlin Chinese food experience

E-scooter is Popular in Berlin

I learned E-scooters are popular during the research and decided to give it a try. Boys are instantly hooked. Initially I told them to go slow using fast walk pace. Of course, they quickly decided to go full speed. LOL.

We signed up Lime three-day pass. Boys got to use the remaining minutes in Hamburg, by the way. It is straightforward to use the Lime app. I recommend signing up 3-day 60 minutes plan at a time. Each user can use their own mobile device to sign up the plan.

Upon arrival in Berlin, we e-scooted from where we stayed, which is close to Berlin Zoo, all the way to the Brandenburg Gate {Tor}. It was a good 40 minutes ride at e-scooter’s full speed, and then came back.

riding e-scooters in Berlin
  1. After riding over 1 hour in the rain from East Side Gallery back to Berlin Zoo, where we stayed
  2. Arrived at Brandenburg Tor riding e-scooter
  3. East Side Gallery art on the wall
  4. My younger son trying to unlock an e-scooter in the Museum Island area
  5. Arrived at Brandenburg Tor riding e-scooter
  6. We walked and e-scooted up and down the East Side Gallery

By the way, later I learned the e-scooter ride service is consolidated in the US market. This means you use one app that works across multiple brands/companies. This is not the case in Germany yet. You will need to download individual company’s app to user their service. Scooter is charged by minute in Germany.

German Spy Museum,

Deutsches Spionage Museum is one of the most popular points of interest for people visiting Berlin. While the museum is not huge space wise, it is full of information and activities.

There are plenty of hands-on activities such as liar detector, laser trap escape, de-code messages, etc. You can easily spend a big chunk of the day there.

Like most museums, Spy Museum offers spacious free lockers to store backpacks. In the locker, they also offer charging cables, a nice touch. Also, in and out Spy Museum is allowed, which is wonderful. Most popular tourist attractions do not allow re-entry. As a matter of fact, the toilets or bathroom is located outside of the museum in the lobby, you will need to scan your ticket to re-enter.

Because of the popularity, you’d better reserve your entry time in advance.

German Spy Museum Experience

The Spy Museum also has a Photo Booth offering all kinds of disguise props including wigs for you to take a photo and share on social media.

Bundestag {Reichstag Building}

The Bundestag is the German federal parliament. The building is a Neo-Renaissance style with a Norman Foster glass dome where you can have a 360 degree panoramic view of the Berlin City. Just stunning!

The building is grand and the Dom & view are very pretty. Definitely worth visiting. By the way, since it is a government building, remember to bring your official identification.

The visit itself is free, but you will need to book your entry time on their official website in advance. We also had the chance to reserve a 45 min lecture in English, which is very informative. You will be seating in the actual parliament meeting hall, quite an experience.

Visiting Bundestag, Berlin Germany

After the lecture, you can walk around inside the magnificent building, and take the elevator to the Dom.

Bundestag is conveniently located in the city center, very close to Brandenburger Tor {Gate}. Bus or subway both have stop for Bundestag.

Berlin Cathedral {Berliner Dom}

Berlin Cathedral serves the gateway to Museum Island. Spree River diverts into two springs in the area and then merge back into one, creating this unique island, the iconic Museum Island in Berlin.

It is a beautiful Cathedral inside and out. Climbing the Dom requires a little bit of efforts, and no elevator is available. But the view is excellent. You also overlook the Berliner Fernsehturm {Berlin TV Tower}. Remember I said Berlin reminds me of Shanghai? Shanghai also has a similar TV Tower, the Oriental Pearl {Dong Fang Ming Zhu 东方明珠}.

Berlin Cathedral Experience

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