Germany, Travel
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Berlin, finally

Our trip to Berlin was extra special, as we celebrated Oliver’s 11th birthday while we were there. It was super fun to be able to spoil him while visiting one of his top choice destinations, and we had a big surprise up our sleeves for him. Oli’s number one desire for this year in Europe was to go to a “real” football game. Well wouldn’t you know, there just happened to be a big Hertha BSC game at the Olympiastadion the day we arrived. I booked the tickets but we decided to keep it a secret until we were at the airport in Paris. His reaction was awesome!

oli reaction

In the airport, reading the card telling him that we were heading to a football game right after we land!

Turns out the game was a pretty big deal, against Hertha rivals Borussia Dortmund, played in front of a packed house of 75000 people! The atmosphere was incredible, like a giant party. Each team had spirit sections with thousands of people jumping, chanting, singing, waving massive flags. It was really an amazing experience, one we won’t soon forget. We are so glad we made it happen, and how fun for it to be for Oliver’s birthday.

olympiastadion inside

Seriously gorgeous Olympiastadion at sunset.

oli and dani at the game

Oliver’s actual birthday was a couple days later, and so we had a “day of Oli”, his choice for lunch + dinner + activity (the aquarium, which was awesome). We snuck a few gifts to Berlin with us, sang to him over cake (twice) and generally just enjoyed our sweet boy’s big day. Can’t believe he is 11 already.

11 year old

Happy birthday, Oliver!

oli bday pile

oli bday tiramisu

Birthday tiramisu for our favourite eleven-year-old!

One place I really wanted to visit while we were here was Kadewe, a giant department store with what I’d heard was an amazing gourmet food level on the 6th floor, not to be missed. Up we went with no real expectations, but man were we ever blown away! I highly recommend it to all the food lovers out there visiting Berlin. The open-plan was dotted with beautifully designed mini-restaurants, tiny parisian-style cafés, gourmet dessert counters, and just way too much goodness to even list. You could sit at a counter at any given stall and eat small or large portions of just about anything you could imagine, served on real plates with glassware and silverware to boot. From the traditional German wursts and Italian antipastos, to sushi, pastas, seafood, roasted chicken, burgers, you name it. There was an international section with offerings from all over the world. Unsurprisingly, Canada’s shelves were lined with all things maple syrup flavoured. There was even a fresh food market in one corner with the most delicious looking displays of fruits and veggies. The kids dessert consisted of an amazing selection of bulk candies. Ok, I admit I indulged as well. I’m a sucker for cool international candies and yummy things we can’t find back home. I’ll share just a few photos here, really just a tiny sampling of what we saw.

kadewe drinks

kadewe wurst :)

kadewe antipasti

kadewe desserts

On our way back down the escalators, I had to stop and ogle the home design floor. Filled with displays from so many of my favourites, such as Hay, Ferm Living, Design Letters, Vitra, Norman Copenhagen, Tom Dixon, and way more amazing goodness. It was honestly like a little slice of heaven. Unfortunately for me, our two little carryons were stuffed to the brim and no room for extras. I think the salesgirls got a kick out of seeing me practically drooling over all this stuff I love in one convenient location. Seriously, why doesn’t this exist back home?!

kadewe home section

kadewe all you need is love

Kadewe window display, All you need is Love (and blue skies don’t hurt, either!)

Another place that had been recommended for us to take the kids was the Naturkunde Museum. It houses the world’s third most complete T-Rex Skeleton (170 of 300 bones), named Tristan, as well as many other dinosaurs. The displays were beautifully done, along with some really amazing animated renderings of the dinosaurs’ whose skeletons were on display. Our favourite part of the museum was a large hall filled with multiple tall glass cases of specimens, just about everything you can imagine. It was almost impossible to photograph (have a better look here) but it was really so beautiful to look at. The outer-space gallery was also amazing, though I didn’t get any photos, it was definitely a highlight. Then, just as we were getting ready to leave and thought we’d seen it all, we happened upon a room filled to the ceiling with shelves upon shelves of specimens preserved in jars. I’ve never seen anything like it.

jars of specimens in museum

tristan trex

Tristan the T-Rex

spinosaurus

Spinosaurus, a dinosaur we’d never seen in a museum before.

species wall

I’ll wrap up this rather random Berlin post with a few more photos from around town. We always love finding live music in the parks and squares in so many European cities. It’s always a highlight when we happen upon talented folks like this, and we love to stop and have a listen. This trio played a beautiful rendition of Summertime, which my mom always used to sing to me when I was a little girl. Another of the kids’ favourite “touristy” things to spot are the living statues that we seem to find all over. We love it, touristy or not, and our kids always get a kick out of seeing what happens when they drop some change in the bucket. I’ve also tucked in a few more pics that I couldn’t quite find another place for. All in all we had an incredible time in Berlin. A vibrant city full of history, but one that hasn’t dwelled in the past without moving forward, all the while honouring their culture, yet not backing away from their past. It presents an incredible dichotomy. I’d like to go back in the summer one day, to take advantage of the wonderful outdoor spaces, bike riding, and of course the beer gartens 🙂

park band

statue and oli

She was very impressive, I quite literally thought it was a statue when we saw her from afar.

statue and kids

This guy had a whistle in his mouth to “talk”, the kids were a little freaked out 😉

ampelmann

Ampelmann, the famous Berlin walking signal! We fell prey to the cuteness and came out of the shop with a fun bunch of goodies.

bikini berlin entry

Bikini Berlin, in the elevator lobby up to a couple very funky restaurant bars.

bombed-out church kaiser wilhelm memorial

The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, bombed in the war and left for what it is.

stolpersteines

A sobering reminder of the many atrocities. These Stolpersteine are dotted around the sidewalks in berlin neighbourhoods, as a memorial to all those persecuted and killed.

ubahn car

The u-bahn trains all had these Brandenburg gate decals on the windows, and each one seemed to have a different crazy pattern on the vinyl seats.

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