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Berlin with pre- and teenage boys + road trip

Berlin with pre- and teenage boys + road trip

Old Jan 18th, 2022, 05:19 PM
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Berlin with pre- and teenage boys + road trip

Hi all,

We are rolling the dice that COVID will cooperate and booked 18 days in Germany (travel days excluded) from end of March to mid April. We will spend 7-9 days in Berlin visiting friends and then will embark on a to-be-determined week or more road trip. We are German speakers (for the most part) and it is my boys', 12 and 14, 3rd trip to Germany. We will be keeping ourselves busy during the school day and need some tips. Boys have seen Berlin 2 times before, so we are looking for some unique Berlin sights and/or day trips. One boy is a GREAT traveler and loves museums, music, history, architecture and the other is a bit of a Philistine, so I need to try and find things for both of them to do. It is just me and the boys, as my husband has decided to stay home this trip.

We have friends in Dresden and our multi-day trip will probably include Prague and Dresden. We've visited Dresden, Goerlitz, Bautzen, Spreewald, and Saechsische Schweiz a few times as a family and I've spent many solo trips in the region. We had plans to visit friends in Bayern and outside of Vienna, but with COVID, I decided to minimize our trip and stick to fewer border crossings and varied COVID rules. (We are all as vaxxed as we can get.)

I am hoping to get the following:
- off-the-beaten path tips for Berlin
-any vegan (or dairy free) restaurants, cafes, etc for my dairy free vegetarian in Berlin
-suggestions on where you'd go if you had 8-9ish days to make a road trip from Berlin (with kids)
-our lodging in Berlin is confirmed (across the park from our 11 year old best friend, score!), but any tips elsewhere would be welcome
-we'd be open to bike tours, etc...

Thank you! (This is the first trip in decades where I had some freedom to not visit specific friends/places.)
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Old Jan 18th, 2022, 05:47 PM
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Hi wendy17, veganism is having a moment in Germany, it's everywhere at the moment. If you know veganism you might know the Happy Cow website, which has restaurants and food outlets in many places including Berlin:

https://www.happycow.net/europe/germany/berlin/

Sorry I can't comment on any of their tips, I don't live in Berlin, nor am I vegan

As for road trips, had you thought of travelling north and visiting the Baltic Coast? Some years back my family and I did the Brick Gothic Route from Lüneburg to Parchim, although it goes further. It is not quite as nice or as compelling once it crosses the Land border into M-V, but we certainly found it interesting. We spent several days in Wismar and visited Schwerin as well. Then our trip went back west and we left that region. However, I would have liked to have seen Rostock and Stralsund, and perhaps also Gdansk. Certainly something for you to research, anyway. I might add that you pretty much need German skills if travelling in those parts, Russian is the second language for many people there, and English is not widely spoken.

Lavandula
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Old Jan 18th, 2022, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by lavandula View Post
Hi wendy17, veganism is having a moment in Germany, it's everywhere at the moment. If you know veganism you might know the Happy Cow website, which has restaurants and food outlets in many places including Berlin:

https://www.happycow.net/europe/germany/berlin/

Sorry I can't comment on any of their tips, I don't live in Berlin, nor am I vegan

As for road trips, had you thought of travelling north and visiting the Baltic Coast? Some years back my family and I did the Brick Gothic Route from Lüneburg to Parchim, although it goes further. It is not quite as nice or as compelling once it crosses the Land border into M-V, but we certainly found it interesting. We spent several days in Wismar and visited Schwerin as well. Then our trip went back west and we left that region. However, I would have liked to have seen Rostock and Stralsund, and perhaps also Gdansk. Certainly something for you to research, anyway. I might add that you pretty much need German skills if travelling in those parts, Russian is the second language for many people there, and English is not widely spoken.

Lavandula
I didn't think of Happy Cow although we use it here in the U.S. Good idea!

I also haven't spent really any time north of Berlin, so maybe worth looking into. I have always wondered about an itinerary in M-V, although we typically visit in the summer. Stralsund and Rugen have always looked intriguing. Maybe I will take a hard look at travelling north instead of south! I am comfortable in my German, so maybe worth the trip since the non-German speaker is staying home this trip!

Thanks!
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Old Jan 18th, 2022, 06:26 PM
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Potsdam is a great way to burn a day in Berlin if they haven't been.

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Old Jan 18th, 2022, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by tailsock View Post
Potsdam is a great way to burn a day in Berlin if they haven't been.
I don't think they have. I am adding it to our list. Thanks!
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Old Jan 18th, 2022, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by wendy17 View Post

I also haven't spent really any time north of Berlin, so maybe worth looking into. I have always wondered about an itinerary in M-V, although we typically visit in the summer. Stralsund and Rugen have always looked intriguing. Maybe I will take a hard look at travelling north instead of south! I am comfortable in my German, so maybe worth the trip since the non-German speaker is staying home this trip!
From Wismar we visited Poel (island), which was worth a nice afternoon's drive. Our visit was in winter so we unfortunately weren't seduced by beaches, but we did like Wismar and Schwerin, which is picture-postcard pretty. Our trip was also spent visiting all the Christmas markets from the north-east in a diagonal line down to Aachen, where we crossed the border. It was interesting to see what regional specialities were represented and where they stopped and others took their place. Also look out for Ludwigslust, where there was a massive but decaying palace and a planned town centre from the 18th century. Locals are trying to save the palace but I think they will need a big injection of money to maintain it. Fascinating trip - not quite a step back in time, but a very different culture and mentality to parts south or west of there.

Lavandula
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Old Jan 19th, 2022, 05:01 AM
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Originally Posted by lavandula View Post
From Wismar we visited Poel (island), which was worth a nice afternoon's drive. Our visit was in winter so we unfortunately weren't seduced by beaches, but we did like Wismar and Schwerin, which is picture-postcard pretty.

Lavandula
We spent a couple of hours in Wismar a few years ago. May be worth a revisit.

Thanks!
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Old Jan 19th, 2022, 09:15 AM
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It doesn't seem you need ideas for the Dresden region as you have friends there, but if you do let me know. Just noticed that Freiberg and Meissen are not on the list of places you visited. The narrow-gauge steam trains Radebeul to Moritzburg and Freital to Kipsdorf could be of interest for both boys.
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Old Jan 19th, 2022, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Ingo View Post
It doesn't seem you need ideas for the Dresden region as you have friends there, but if you do let me know. Just noticed that Freiberg and Meissen are not on the list of places you visited. The narrow-gauge steam trains Radebeul to Moritzburg and Freital to Kipsdorf could be of interest for both boys.
I've been to Meissen, probably for just a few hours and probably know very little about it. Freiberg is unknown to me, so if you have any more insight I'd appreciate it. I don't know the train, but will look into them. That sounds like a good outing. Honestly, now I am thinking that we'd go from using Berlin as a base for a week+ and then find a place in Sachsen to use as a base for a week plus. My older son is insistent on seeing Prague. Hate to do it in a day trip, but I would love to find a place to stay put, so that my boys could have some independence (go to the bakery, Eiscafe, etc) while we are there and just see neighboring towns. Of course Dresden is an easy fix, but maybe you suggest another town as a base? I am pretty familiar with Radebeul.

Thanks!
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Old Jan 20th, 2022, 10:04 AM
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Freiberg is Saxony's historic mining capital - since the 12th century. Beautiful old town. Don't miss the Dom, best with guided tour and organ recital (famous Baroque organ). Highlights are the Romanesque 'Golden Portal', the Baroque 'Tulip pulpit' and the Renaissance burial chapel in the old choir. Another *must* is the Terra Mineralia exhibit (amazing minerals from all over the world, one of the world's largest and best exhibits) in Schloss Freudenstein. If you are interested (Corona allowing) then a tour of a mine is very well worth your time - and kids will probably love it, too. For lunch check out Stadtwirtschaft (rustic, Czech beer and food, www.stadtwirtschaft.de), Himmel und Hölle (slow food, business lunch, a bit more 'fine dining', www.himmelundhoelle-freiberg.de) e.g.

For coffee and cake check out Kaffee Hartmann (Art Deco style - pretty unique in Germany as it is still the original interior, www.cafe-hartmann.de) or across the street Cafe Momo with its own coffee roastery (www.roesterei-momo.de).

For the narrow-gauge steam trains check these website: www.sdg-bahn.de (with infos on all three trains operated by them - Fichtelbergbahn is farther away, but highly recommended if there is still snow in the higher Erzgebirge mountains.)

Finding a place as base from where you make day trips is an excellent idea. There are many options (read: different districts) in Dresden and each can give you a totally different feel. Your boys would probably love the Neustadt district. Or try the area around Blaues Wunder bridge - Schillerplatz has food markets on Tue, Thur, Sat, many little shops, cafes, restaurants ... Would be perfect for bike rides along the Elbe river, too (Pillnitz with spring flowers, camellia maybe still in bloom ...) Another town worth considering is Pirna - beautiful old town with lots of shops, restaurants, cafes, bakeries ... and four trains per hour to Dresden, 21 minutes to Hauptbahnhof. If you are familiar with Radebeul, that's another option - I recommend Altkötzschenbroda area. Just yesterday I bought a focaccia and a glass of wine there for lunch at an Italian alimentari/cafe and enjoyed it on a bench on the square in the sun. Nice

Day trip to Prague is not as bad as it sounds. It is a comfortable and quick train ride. Dep. 7:27, arr. 9:48, back 18:06 and arr. 20:20.

Let me know if I can help further!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2022, 04:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Ingo View Post
Freiberg is Saxony's historic mining capital - since the 12th century. Beautiful old town. Don't miss the Dom, best with guided tour and organ recital (famous Baroque organ). Highlights are the Romanesque 'Golden Portal', the Baroque 'Tulip pulpit' and the Renaissance burial chapel in the old choir. Another *must* is the Terra Mineralia exhibit (amazing minerals from all over the world, one of the world's largest and best exhibits) in Schloss Freudenstein. If you are interested (Corona allowing) then a tour of a mine is very well worth your time - and kids will probably love it, too. For lunch check out Stadtwirtschaft (rustic, Czech beer and food, www.stadtwirtschaft.de), Himmel und Hölle (slow food, business lunch, a bit more 'fine dining', www.himmelundhoelle-freiberg.de) e.g.
For coffee and cake check out Kaffee Hartmann (Art Deco style - pretty unique in Germany as it is still the original interior, www.cafe-hartmann.de) or across the street Cafe Momo with its own coffee roastery (www.roesterei-momo.de).

For the narrow-gauge steam trains check these website: www.sdg-bahn.de (with infos on all three trains operated by them - Fichtelbergbahn is farther away, but highly recommended if there is still snow in the higher Erzgebirge mountains.)

Finding a place as base from where you make day trips is an excellent idea. There are many options (read: different districts) in Dresden and each can give you a totally different feel. Your boys would probably love the Neustadt district. Or try the area around Blaues Wunder bridge - Schillerplatz has food markets on Tue, Thur, Sat, many little shops, cafes, restaurants ... Would be perfect for bike rides along the Elbe river, too (Pillnitz with spring flowers, camellia maybe still in bloom ...) Another town worth considering is Pirna - beautiful old town with lots of shops, restaurants, cafes, bakeries ... and four trains per hour to Dresden, 21 minutes to Hauptbahnhof. If you are familiar with Radebeul, that's another option - I recommend Altkötzschenbroda area. Just yesterday I bought a focaccia and a glass of wine there for lunch at an Italian alimentari/cafe and enjoyed it on a bench on the square in the sun. Nice

Day trip to Prague is not as bad as it sounds. It is a comfortable and quick train ride. Dep. 7:27, arr. 9:48, back 18:06 and arr. 20:20.

Let me know if I can help further!
I appreciate the tips about the food markets. I will put them on the list. Got a nice apartment in Dresden to use as our base. Freiberg will be added to the list and Kaffee und Kuchen will be consumed. The Altkoetzschenbroda is a lovely area and we will definitely visit. Glad you mentioned the camellias, I forgot all about the Camellia in Pillnitz!

Great tips, much appreciated!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2022, 05:19 AM
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Just wanted to lend you some support. We introduced our girls to Europe when they were 13, and we're so glad we did. One daughter did study abroad later, and she's in Germany now as an adult; the other has been to Iceland (and many other places), and they took a pre-COVID trip to Italy together.

I've been to Berlin but not with kids. We, too, are rolling the dice and hoping that we can get back to Europe in March. We're vaccinated and boosted, and we have no problem wearing masks, etc.

Because of COVID, you'll probably need to download the CovPass app and have a pharmacist update your card/status.

Happy travels!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2022, 08:35 AM
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For a road trip, how about Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, unless Dresden is a must>


https://flic.kr/s/aHsjHhQTHC


https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1ByfEG
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Old Jan 22nd, 2022, 01:50 PM
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The great glass bubble that crowns the houses of Parliament – the Reichstag – can impress visitors of all ages. Aside from a guided tour of the interior, the views across the top of Berlin's skyline are hard to match. Arrangements must be made in advance for the sake of security in this centre of government.



https://www.bundestag.de/besucher#ur...&mod=mod829792
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Old Jan 23rd, 2022, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Kandace_York View Post
Just wanted to lend you some support. We introduced our girls to Europe when they were 13, and we're so glad we did. One daughter did study abroad later, and she's in Germany now as an adult; the other has been to Iceland (and many other places), and they took a pre-COVID trip to Italy together.

I've been to Berlin but not with kids. We, too, are rolling the dice and hoping that we can get back to Europe in March. We're vaccinated and boosted, and we have no problem wearing masks, etc.

Because of COVID, you'll probably need to download the CovPass app and have a pharmacist update your card/status.

Happy travels!
Thanks! I appreciate the mention of the CovPass app. I was wondering where to start figuring out how to document that for our travel. I also hope travel influences my kiddos to study abroad and/or just have a love for travel!
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Old Jan 24th, 2022, 04:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Southam View Post
The great glass bubble that crowns the houses of Parliament – the Reichstag – can impress visitors of all ages. Aside from a guided tour of the interior, the views across the top of Berlin's skyline are hard to match. Arrangements must be made in advance for the sake of security in this centre of government.



https://www.bundestag.de/besucher#ur...&mod=mod829792
My 12 year old and I just watched a video about it. I will add that to my list to look into a visit in advance. Thanks!
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Old Jan 24th, 2022, 04:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Michael View Post
For a road trip, how about Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, unless Dresden is a must>

https://flic.kr/p/fm9FK5 https://flic.kr/p/fkV7DV

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjHhQTHC

https://flic.kr/p/X5hfeC

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1ByfEG
We did a long trip through Sachsen Anhalt a few years ago and I agree, it is beautiful! Niedesachsen would be new to me again, as I haven't been there in decades. Thanks for the photos! Such beautiful places.
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Old Jan 24th, 2022, 04:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Michael View Post
For a road trip, how about Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, unless Dresden is a must>

https://flic.kr/p/fm9FK5 https://flic.kr/p/fkV7DV

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjHhQTHC

https://flic.kr/p/X5hfeC

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1ByfEG
We did a long trip through Sachsen Anhalt a few years ago and I agree, it is beautiful! Niedesachsen would be new to me again, as I haven't been there in decades. Thanks for the photos! Such beautiful places.
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Old Jan 24th, 2022, 06:06 AM
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Have you thought of going to the coast? Meckenburg-Voor-Pommeren is lovely with woodland heathland and some interesting islands. Peenemünde with it's interesting V-2 museum on Usedom is worth a visit.
Prora on Rügen is also interesting: https://www.dw.com/en/the-colossus-o...ort/a-50199173. Rügen is a lovely island even if you aren't into such things.
The area is popular with Germans but little visited by foreigners.

Coincidentally there is an article in the Guardian today on Usedom: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2...unniest-island

There is lots to do in that whole area.
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Old Jan 24th, 2022, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by wendy17 View Post
Niedesachsen would be new to me again, as I haven't been there in decades. Thanks for the photos! Such beautiful places.
If you don't know it, the area between Braunschweig and Quedlinburg (Harz Mountains) has some very pretty small towns. That may be something else for you to look into. I have been there several times (twice staying in Wolfenbüttel for three months), and Quedlinburg and Goslar are the jewels in the crown, but there are many other townships that recommend themselves. The Harz also would not take you far off your pathway which seems to be mostly the east.

Lavandula
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