Friday, 29 June 2012

Walking Berlin - Museum Insel and Unter den Linden

This is the second Walking Berlin feature. Again the walk took around 2 and a bit hours. We started at Oranienburgstrasse and crossed  the Montbijoubrucke to Museum Insel  and walked around this end of the island, looking at the buildings on the way. If you want to you can visit any of the museum here as part of this walk as we went by all of them but we didn't. For more information about Museum Insel click here.

We had a good explore around the buildings as this area is mainly car free and there is a lot of green space.

We moved onto the Lustgarten in front of the Neue Museum and the Berliner Dom and had a good run around on the grass and along the river front. This walk gave me a good chance to look at some of the most historic buildings in the centre of Berlin and also for my son to have space to safely roam about.

Nice shady area by the river was a good place to stop of a drink and a snack.

Next we went into the Humboldt Box, something that I had been curious about for a while. I paid 4€ to get in and my son was free. There was no where to put the buggy so we had to keep it with us. It wasn't a problem as there was a lift and the inside areas were very spacious.

The box is the information centre of the ambitious project of rebuilding the Berlin Schloss, a project which is estimated to cost 80m€ and will be completed by 2019. The model above shows where the new building will be in relation to the Box. The staff in the exhibition was friendly, informative and also spoke English.

There is a viewing area at the top of the Box which gives great views both ways down and up Unter den Linden and the current construction sites.

Next we walked up Unter den Linden towards the Brandenburg Gate, taking in the sites as we went. Above is Babelplatz.

We headed to the Ritter Sport Schokowelt on Franzosische Strasse. The exhibition here is a bit dull but the highlight is being able, for 3€90, to create your own Ritter Sport bar by choosing three ingredients and the type of chocolate, then half an hour later you can collect your finished bar. Great fun for kids to chose between gummi bears and jelly beans at one end of the spectrum to nuts on the other. We made one for father's day and Noah chose 100s and 1000s, coloured rice crispies and hazelnuts.

The finished bar.

We finally end the morning with lunch in a Sushi restaurant called Edo on Behrenstrasse. They have high chairs but no changing table. My son loves sushi but if your children don't there are plenty of places to eat nearby on Unter den Linden, like Casa Italia.

On the map of this walk, I have added an extra bit of route that takes you up to the Brandenburg Gate, if you have more time or want to skip the Ritter Sport experience.

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Thursday, 28 June 2012

Heimzucht - funky clothes shopping for mum

Quite by chance I came across this shop as we are usually heading home for lunch and nap time just as it opens at 12 noon. It is a great shop selling well selected fashion labels and cool clothes and accessories. The clothes are something a bit different and there is funky jewellry and handmade covered buttons amongst other pretty things. 

I didn't have much time to explore but bought the ice cream t shirt in the photo above. I am definitely returning on a child free afternoon as so many things caught my eye!

Heimzucht doesn't have a web page but you can follow them on Facebook here

Address: Danziger Strasse 10, 10435 Berlin

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Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Galeries Lafayette

We saw an advert for the play area in the children's department of Galeries Lafayette and my son was fueled with a desire to go. 

The children's department is on the third floor and the actual area is on a mezzanine accessed by this sparkly lift.

The play area runs around a central window and offers a slide, little climbing area and some fun things in the ground like the flowers and bugs above and tactile balls.

There is a little comfy cinema area, where children can select cartoons and films to watch with sweets which you can purchase from the cylinders next to the mini cinema.

I would definitely say that this is a play area to keep children entertained whilst you shop not one to go to as a destination but worth a look if you are in the store.

The other plus point of this French department store is its food hall on the basement level - you will certainly come out with a lighter purse but a bag full of yummy French food.

Address: Französische Strasse 23, 10117 Berlin (main access on Friedrichstrasse)

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Monday, 25 June 2012

Dussmann das KuturKaufhaus

I have walked past this huge shop, Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus, on Friedrichstrasse a number of times and had always thought it was simply a music shop but how wrong was I. After reading this post by another local blogger, I decided it was worth a look.

At the back of the store on the ground floor and first floor (accessed by a dedicated lift) is a large English bookshop. One of the few things I miss about the UK is browsing in Waterstones and this place has made my wish come true in Berlin. The children's section on the first floor is incredibly well stocked and as another British friend noted the whole selection in the bookshop is well thought out and selected beyond the top ten bestsellers.

Our main mission in visiting Dussman was to see the secret playroom and it was amazing. We spent nearly an hour in there. They have a selection of well worn books, building bricks, bean bags, elephant seats, a listening post with music and audiobooks and a really calm feel as you would expect in a bookshop.

It is tucked away in the far corner of the children's section on the first floor.

Amazing wall the ceiling windows offer this amazing view towards Friedrichstrasse Station,

Mirrored bouncing area

Whilst in the area you might feel tempted to give away a huge amount of money for UK magazines in Ludwigs in the S bahn part of Friedrichstrasse Station. My suggestion is you club together with others on this or sell a kidney!

Address: Dussmann, Friedrichstrasse 90, 10117 Berlin

Address: Ludwig Press und Buch im Bhf. Friedrichstrasse, Friedrichstrasse 142, 10119 Berlin

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Friday, 22 June 2012

Brand new playground at Nordbahnhof

The new shipwreck themed playground opposite Nordbahnhof Station (on Invalidenstrasse) has finally opened and it was well worth the wait. With brand new equipment (and at present no graffiti in the playground), big sand pit and a well thought out formation of the play area, it was a pleasure to visit. In this area there are plenty of kitas so I imagine this will become a popular place.

We love the lighthouse slide!

The climbing tube is great for older children.

Just outside the play area are two table tennis tables and the famous lido.

Address: Invalidenstrasse (by Nordbahnhof Station), 10115 Berlin

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Thursday, 21 June 2012

Cooking for Toddlers - Tana Ramsay's Real Family Food

I have had this book for a while and I am not sure I have ever made anything from it but decided to start a feature about cooking for my son and using a couple of recipes from cook books I already own so this  was a good place to start as it is a book aimed at family cooking.

First up I cooked Oat and Blueberry Muffins. In my edition of the book there is a proofreading error and it lists beaten egg in the ingredients but misses them out in the method. Logic says to add them with the other wet ingredients, which I did, and all turned out well. These are billed as breakfast muffins and I would say they are perfect as they contain buttermilk, eggs, oats and fruits - so all the breakfast ingredients in one toddler appealing package. Plus they are not too sweet. Noah loved them (as did we!) Big thumbs up especially as they are super easy to make.

Second recipe was salmon and vegetables en papilotte. Basically a piece of salmon steamed with vegetables in a greaseproof paper pocket. I used more or less the veggies she suggest and missed out the chilli. It was ready in about 10 minutes and took hardly any time at all to prepare. At the end of the meal Noah presented me with a virtually empty plate so I take this as another success.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Playground at Monbijou Park

I mentioned this playground as part of Walking Berlin but felt it was worth a post of its own. 

It is a large sandy and spacious playground in Monbijou Park close to the river. It was a hot day when we visited and it was lovely and shady. The equipment is well spaced out and I imagine that it can get busy so the space in the sand is probably wise.

There is a standard climbing frame and slide, which look to be quite new.

There is an interesting stone structure with climbing holds and a concrete slide. it was great for climbing and for views but it was a brave child that ventured down the slide (and not mine!). 

Address: Monbijou Park, Montbijoustrasse 3, 10117 Berlin

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Monday, 18 June 2012

Walking Berlin - Scheunenviertel

This is the first walking tour of Berlin designed for an approximate two hour walk with a toddler/preschooler, although it would be suitable for older children. We did it in this time and combined both using the stroller and my two year old son walking. We also didn't rush and took time to enjoy each spot for a reasonable amount of time. We also did the walk in the morning and ended with lunch.

Our starting point was Oranienburger Strasse S bahn station, where there is a lift to street level. From here we walked down Oranienburger Strasse to Tascheles,  an art centre used by an artists collective currently under threat of demolition. 

The building has an interesting historic past and is currently covered by colourful graffiti murals. We stopped here for a while and my son explored the inner courtyard area but we did not go into the sculpture area behind the main building. This spot may be more interesting for adults but the colourful exterior is exciting for the little ones. For more information click here

We then retraced our steps past the S bahn station and onto the Neue Synagogue. Again a building with an interesting past. The Synagogue was destroyed during the War but rebuilt in recent years. It now houses a Jewish cultural centre with an interesting museum on the ground floor. We didn't visit the exhibition this time, although it looked promising, but paid to go into the golden dome. I would only recommend this for able walkers as after the main lift to the dome you need to walk up 40 steps to the top and the last section is a spiral staircase (see picture below). The dome offers views across the area and a small information exhibition about the construction and reconstruction of the Synagogue.

It is important to note that there is heavy security around the building and your bag will be searched and you need to enter through a metal detector. It is, however, OK to take strollers in and there is an area to park them beyond the ticket office.

Next we had a bit of a run about in Monbijou Park, just a few meters up the road from the Neue Synagogue. This is a lovely green space running along the river Spree. 

For a quick break and a drink I recommend a breather at the Strandbar, Mitte, situated along the River Spree with great views of Museum Insel. You can relax on these wonderful deck chairs.

We had great fun watching the tourist boats going past and waving at the passengers.

Just behind the Strandbar back in the park is a great little playground and we blew off steam here for a while before heading back into the park and onto the next leg of the walk.

Final touristy spot was Hackesche Hofe, a courtyard complex again renovated after the fall of the Wall. The art deco architecture is interesting for all and the shops are worth a quick look but beware it can get busy with tour groups.

Finally we walked onto this great little playground on Auguststrasse for more play time....

 and then lunch in da Piadina.

The walk offered lots of variety for my son so he didn't get bored and also gave me the chance to see some of the sights of this area of Scheunenviertal.

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