Achtung (Nein) Baby.
How To Waste 48 hours Child Free in Berlin
Setting off before dawn, bleary-eyed and feeling more than a little guilty, we embarked on our latest adventure. This was to be our first weekend on our own since the Duke was born four years ago. Crazy, innit?
I drafted in my niece and one of Duke’s ‘Big Cousins’ on official babysitting duties and drew up some house rules about bedtimes that I knew were bound to be ignored, then planned our escape (you want to stuff him full of sugar like you normally do? Fine by me, ain’t going to be me that is dealing with the rush 🙂 )
Child Free in Berlin – Setting Off
Berlin has a special place in my heart. It was the first place we visited when we first started dating ten years ago. So having the chance to go back and catch up was something we were both looking forward to, and it didn’t disappoint.
Travelling without having an excitable three-year-old to entertain made for a breeze through customs and check-in. No running off, the chance to browse leisurely duty-free land and queue up without a strop or whining meltdown was quite different to our last family holiday.
Less than two hours later we hit a snow-covered Berlin with temperatures threatening to hit -5. This was not the time to worry about looking smooth.
Our hotel, the N-How was in the old Eastside, where the industrial warehouses have been transformed into huge designer office blocks and backed onto a frozen river making for an incredible backdrop.
The hotel was styled in an incredible boutique design. Each lift had its own colour and type of music piped in.
Incredibly helpful staff made sure we were aware that if we desperately needed a guitar or a DJ set-up, then not to worry. They could pop one up to our rooms as part of room service…(how many times have you kicked yourself after unpacking your suitcase and realised that you had forgotten your turntables?)
After a much-needed daddy nap we hit the street, discovering the Eastside Gallery a huge section of the old Berlin wall that now houses a huge range of incredible artworks.
Berlin is covered in Graffiti – not just what is left of the Wall. The sides of houses, offices, street signs and railway tracks sing out in multicolour. Teenage taggers sit side by side with political street art legends like NOIR, making the whole place one big industrial canvas.
Now I don’t know whether it was the weather, or just that the Berliners had better things to do at that time, but the streets seemed to be empty. We walked for miles into the centre, unsuccessfully pretending to know where we were, getting to grips with the U-Bahn and we hardly saw a soul. It was a bit like a zombie apocalypse but at least it made a change to what you would get in the chaos of London’s West End.
We then hit the Brandenburger Tor and it became like Christmas, the snow reflecting the lights and making it feel magical.
We spent the next day walking, talking, exploring the underground, riding around on double-decker buses, seeing amazing buildings and feasting on sausage and beer.
Only when you are child free in Berlin can you truly enjoy some of the sites without having to launch into a very awkward explanation:
I’d forgotten what it was like to be able to stand in a gallery or a museum and immerse yourself in it (Berlin has them in spades).
Or being able to eat a meal over several hours rather than minutes, taking turns trying to persuade your toddler to eat veg or why it is not a good idea to force feed their apple juice to the Guinea pigs. Being child free in Berlin was a treat.
Before we knew it, time had flown past. Just like Mr Benn bidding farewell to the Fez-wearing shopkeeper we were transported back to reality after our adventure. Though not before we had made a promise to have more of them.
Auf Wiedersehen for now, pet.
If you are thinking of visiting this glorious city, here’s a list of things to make sure you check out.
- c/o: Anton Corbijn Retroperspective (Stations: Zoologischer Garten or Kurfürstendamm)
- 032c workshop and König Galerie, both in St. Agnes (Station: Prinzenstraße)
- Museum für Fotografie: Helmut Newton Exhibition (Station: Zoologischer Garten or Kurfürstendamm)
- Hamburger Bahnhof (Station: Central Station or Naturkundemuseum)
- http://www.sammlung-boros.de/boros-collection.html?L=1 (Stations: Oranienburger Tor or Friedrichstraße)
- Martin Gropius Bau (Station: Potsdamer Platz)
- Geist im Glas (Station Schönleinstraße)
- Möbel Olfe, Station: Kottbusser Tor
- Beuster (Station Hermannplatz or Rathaus Neukölln), also good for food, opens 6 pm
- Café Luzia (Station Kottbusser Tor or Moritzplatz)
- Le Croco Bleu (Station Senefelder Platz)
- Dschungel (Schönleinstraße or Hermannplatz)
- House of Small Wonder (Station: Oranienburger Tor), opening hours only until 5 pm, cash only
- Mogg & Melzer (New York Deli kind of sandwiches) Stations: Oranienburger Tor or Rosenthaler Platz
- clean eating: Daluma, Station Rosenthaler Platz
- Hallesches Haus, Station Hallesches Tor, closed on Sundays
- Roamers (Station Hermannplatz), good for breakfast
- Nalu Diner (Station Eberswalder Straße), good for American breakfast and pies
- Katie’s Blue Cat (Station Schönleinstraße)
- Ora (Station Moritzplatz)
- Silo Coffee (Station Warschauer Straße), good for breakfast
- Neue Heimat, Raw-Gelände (on Sundays), Station Warschauer Straße
- breakfast market in Markthalle 9 only on Sunday (opens 10 am, Station: Görlitzer Bahnhof)
- flea market on Boxhagener Platz, only on Sunday, opens 10 am (Stations: Warschauer Straße, Samariter Straße)
- food market on Boxhagener Platz on Saturdays
- Mauerpark flea market (Stations Bernauer Straße or Eberswalder Straße)
- just another bookstore (Rosenthaler Platz)
- müßiggang (Station Kottbusser Tor)
- for magazines: do you read me, soda (Stations: both Rosenthaler Platz)
- Cocolo Ramen (two restaurants, in Kreuzberg and Mitte, Stations Kottbusser Tor or Rosenthaler Platz)
- Borchardt (good Schnitzel) Station: Französische Straße
- Best Asian style burger at „district mot“ or shiso burger, both Station Rosenthaler Platz
- Good burgers but unspectacular interior: Tommi’s Burger Joint, Station Rosenthaler Platz
- Chen Che, Station Rosenthaler Platz
- Korean BBQ „Ssam“, Station Schönleinstraße
- Osmans Töchter (Station Eberswalder Straße)
- German food at “Sophien-Eck”, Station Rosenthaler Platz or Oranienburger Straße
- Oye Record Store (Station Hermannplatz)
- Record Store Berlin (Rosenthaler Platz or Naturkundemuseum)