To be truthful 2012 hasnt been a great year for the family. After the disappointment of not being able to go to WDW this August and September, I decided to go with a short continental break, taking one or two of my grown up kids with me. The chemo and radiotherapy had exhausted me and to be honest there is no way I could have attacked the parks feeling the way I did. My consultant had worked out when the chemo and radiotherapy would finish and advised me not to go. Getting insurance, well that would have proved nigh on impossible so soon afterwards anyway. I had left cancelling the holiday right until the last moment possible and cant thank Val at Travel Counsellors enough for everything she did for me.
So, it was time to annoy Val again. I had booked flights for my eldest David and my daughter Kathryn flying to Berlin on Sept 4th. The intention was to stay there for 3 nights and head down to Prague by train on the 7th. I had checked out the train timetables and it seemed easy to get between the two cities at a cost of around €65. Little did I realise that we were heading off on one of the most beautiful rail journeys in Europe right alongside the River Elbe.
I must have sat for about 5 or 6 hours trying to sort out two hotels that would suit but gave up in despair. So, I emailed Val and of course she came up trumps within minutes. We were heading to the Mercure Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, a hotel we had used twice before and the Novotel Wenceslas Square in Prague. I knew with Val on my side the choices would be good.
I am lucky that I live only 20mins from Stansted, so on trips like this I always take the car and park it at the airport rather than hire a taxi. It works out around the same price but I like to be in control!
I barely slept the night before, worrying about the alarm clock and whether it would go off or not. Up we all got at 3.45 and we were off at 4am for our 6.25am flight to Shoenefeld Airport, Berlin.
This was a Ryanair flight and I hadnt been on one for at least a year. Off I shot to the exit seats (lots of space) only to be told that we couldn't sit there as I hadnt purchased our seats in advance. I think that all Mr O'Leary has to do now is put the coin slot on the toilet door and he will have drawn every drop of blood from his customers.
The flight was very smooth and we arrived right on time. We had now to find where to purchase our 3 day Welcome Cards to use on the transport network so that we could travel into Berlin to our hotel. The ticket booth had moved, so we were wandering around like headless chickens until finally we found what we wanted. Three tickets validated and we were on our way. We only had one change to make on the U-Bahn and 45mins later we were at our hotel.
The Mercure seems like home to us now and it is in such a great spot. It is right beside Checkpoint Charlie, close to the remaining section of the wall, the Topography of Terror, the beautiful Gendarmenmarkt (plaza with museums and churches) and the largest chocolate shop in Europe, Fassbender and Rausch.
Our rooms werent ready so there was no way I was being kept back from the chocolate shop. We hadnt had our morning fix of coffee, so we were keen to find out what their new restaurant and cafe was like. I love looking at their chocolate models and before we headed upstairs to the cafe, I clicked the camera. They had a chocolate Reichstag, Titanic, church, Berlin Bear and the TV Tower. The display of chocolate was as fantastic as ever. Here are a few photos.
Chocolate Brandenburg Gate
Endless rows of chocolate
Next we headed upstairs to the cafe. It was waiter service and the displays of chocolate desserts and other goodies whetted our appetites. Kathryn had a chocolate mousse cake with gold leaf as well as a delicious cold choc mocha with cream and David went for a chocolate truffle torte. We both had coffee, which came with an individually wrapped chocolate. It was all so good and I loved it.
After a lovely pit stop in the chocolate shop, it was time to hit the road.
We then decided to set the GPS on the phone and head down to Potsdamer Platz which is really central Berlin. Just before we reach it we walk past the Bundersrsat, the second parliamentary chamber and a 'soldier' willing to stamp a passport with the old DDR stamp.
Potsdamer Platz is where Sony has it's European HQ and most important as far as my lot are concerned, this is where the Lego Discovery Centre is. There is a beautiful section of a preserved hotel in this area and it makes me think just how beautiful the city must have been before the war.I wasnt allowed to stop long though as my two had spotted Star Wars and Superhero key rings galore in the Lego Shop.