Travel Bucket List

I figured it would be a fun way to pass the time, dream of the days when life is back to normal, to talk about our Travel Bucket Lists. I have a lot of places that I would like to go in my lifetime, as I’m sure a lot of people do, and I figured it would be fun to compile a master list of places. I am going to mark this down as a page on the site as well so that when I cross a destination off, I can link the blog post to that specific page and maybe give someone else an easier way to find by destination. Honestly, I am starting to get that wanderlust, that ache for travel, and I figured this would be a good way to feed that a bit.

I am going to break this down by “continent”, then by places I would like to go back to and re visit other areas, and then by the places we’ve already been (for linking purposes). I WILL NOT be going into super specifics on cities within countries or such on every location as I am still researching specifics. For now, this will be countries/states/and some cities if there is something specific.

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So, here we go, starting with Places I would Like to Go

Europe

Greece

Romania

Hungary

Croatia

Slovenia

Slovakia

Poland

France (I know we’ve technically been to France, but it’s only one city for one night, doesn’t count)

Ireland

Spain

Switzerland

Lichtenstein

Portugal

Denmark

Sweden

Norway

Finland

Latvia

Lithuania

Russia

Iceland

Greenland

Africa

Morocco

Egypt

Israel

Cyprus

South Africa

Asia

India

Thailand

Vietnam

Myanmar

Malaysia

Philippines

Japan

South Korea

Indonesia

Australia

New Zealand

North America

Canada

United States (again- I’ll have to break this one down as I’m from the USA and have already traveled several states)

Mexico

Belize

Cuba

Dominican Republic

Costa Rica

British Virgin Islands

Turks and Caicos Islands

South America

Colombia

Brazil

Argentina

Chile

Those are all the “new” places. Now I am going to touch on the places we’ve already been that I would like to go back to (and link the original posts about those places). Most of the places that you may have noted as missing above are actually places that we’ve been, and I would like to go back to.

Here are those places:

Britain (our first trip was to London and Dover, I’d like to go back and go to Bristol, Cotswold’s, and a couple other spots)

Scotland (our first trip was to Edinburgh and Inverness, I’d like to go back and go to Skye, Galloway, Aberdeen, and many many more spots.)

Italy (our first trip was to Rome (Parts: 1, 2, 3 ) and Vatican City, but I’d like to go back and go through the Tuscan region, as well as down the southern coast)

Czech Republic (Our first trip was Karlovy Vary, Prague, and Lidice, I’d like to go back to Prague, and to Pilsen).

Austria (we’ve been to Salzburg, but I would love to go over to Vienna, Linz, and Innsbruck)

Germany (gosh, where to begin? We are currently living here and have done Berlin, Dresden, Neuschwanstein, and a bunch more castles, but there is so much more I want to do in this country)

And now, last but not least, the places that we’ve been (most of these are linked as places above that I would like to go back to):

The Netherlands (we’ve done Amsterdam and Keukenhof– which I would actually be very up for a return trip to as I LOVE it in the Tulip Fields)

Calais, France

Belgium (I would be a for a return trip here too to see more of the country)

England (Dover, London)

Scotland (Edinburgh, Inverness)

Italy (Rome 1,2,3 and Vatican City)

Czech Republic (Prague, Karlovy Vary, Lidice)

Germany (Berlin, Dresden, Neuschwanstein/Fussen, Nuremberg, Hohenzollern, Lichtenstein Castle, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Berchtesgaden 1,2)

Austria (Salzburg)

Things You Should Do and Tips For: A Stay in Berlin

Whenever we do a longer/extended trip to somewhere new I will try and try and do two separate posts, one detailing out what we did and the second detailing out things I recommend and tips that we learned. You can read about our long weekend in Berlin HERE. If you are interested in what I actually recommend you do and my tips if you decide to travel there keep reading.

Recommendations

Recommendations are easy and hard to do as each person is interested in different things and there are different factors that can play into decisions on where you go/what you do. For example, we have two very active and loud toddlers. As much as we would like to go to museums and read everything, we also don’t want to ruin the ruin anyone elses’ experience either. So, while we go to museums, we don’t go to all of them and we don’t necessarily read every single word, rather perusing them all and picking and choosing which ones to fully focus on. So, my recommendations come from a bit of a bias for what we were interested in, found interesting, and worked for our family.

Berlin is a city full of history revolving the Berlin Wall. As we are very much interested in history and artifacts/locations specific to history we stuck with the big items. I highly recommend going to the Berlin Wall Memorial and Documentation Center. They are right across the street from each other and you can get a really comprehensive look at the pre cursers to the Berlin Wall, life during the wall, and the wall coming down. There is also information on how the Documentation Center came to be and how they fought to save portions of the wall. I also highly recommend going to the East Side Gallery. This highlights the wall in a different way, showcasing beautiful works of art on a mile long piece of the mall. It is a monument in its own way and sits right along the water so after you walk along the Gallery side, you can walk back along the river. IMG_0352The last history spot I would say to go to is Checkpoint Charlie. The checkpoint itself isn’t very big and usually has quite the crowd prior to the picture actors coming out, but the museum that goes along with it is a wealth of knowledge of the escape attempts, the people on both sides, and the different tactics of the governments.

IMG_0363Another sight I would recommend going to is The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe/The Holocaust Memorial. This is one of the most sobering visual memorial I have seen as of yet to the victims of the Holocaust. It is cold and eye opening in its own way. I would only advise you to be respectful when visiting this memorial. You can walk among the slabs and while pictures are ok, don’t do anything beyond stand and smile (or walk through if you want that IG pic). Climbing, posing, being goofy, anything beyond that is beyond disrespectful and I did see a couple people doing that.

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If you are interested in animals/zoo’s (and let’s be honest, who isn’t?) then I would recommend Tier Park. This is the animal park that we chose to visit rather than the Berlin Zoo. I go into our reasoning in the What We Did post, but I absolutely LOVED this place. It is so spread apart, and has more of a park feel to it than a zoo. Almost all of the exhibits are open air (save for the few that the animals may need to come in frequently) and they have some of the widest variety of animals that I’ve seen at a “zoo”.

The last three spots I will briefly touch on are Brandenburg Gate, Fernsehturm, and the Victory Column. The Brandenburg Gate is the biggest tourist spot that we visited, aside from the East Side Gallery, and it was packed both with tourists, the odd street performers, and some folks petitioning. I would recommend going just to see the massive gate, but not staying too long. The Fernsehturm is the tallest structure in Germany and it is quite impressive. You can see it all throughout the city and you are able to go up to the viewing platform (although be sure to read my tips if you want to do this). I would also highly recommend going to the top of The Victory Column. This is an open air viewing platform that you climb a lot of stairs to get to, but the view is incredible-opposite the view from Fernsehturm.

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Finally, I am going to recommend one food spot as it was one we found on Trip Advisor as a “must-go” and after having gone (twice) to it, I highly recommend it. I spoke about it in our what we did post, but it is the Zeit Fur Brot café. They make some of the best cinnamon rolls right in front of your face. It does get crowded on the weekends and the later in the morning it gets, but the wait is never long (seriously- they in and out), the staff are incredibly friendly, and the food is completely worth it.

 

Tips/Tricks

I’ve got a few tips to share with you about visiting Berlin in a tourist to tourist way. Some of these may be rather obvious and common sense, and can be applied to just regular travel, and some are specific to Berlin.

Tip #1: List your 3-5

A rather obvious tip that you can apply to any trip, but one that has been essential for us on these short whirlwind trips. We are going to be doing a lot of 4 day weekend traveling and listing out 3-5 spots that we HAVE TO see, do not want to miss, helps us stay semi on track. For us for Berlin this was Checkpoint Charlie, The Memorial, Fernsehturm, and The Berlin Wall and/or East Side Gallery. Once we arrived in Berlin, we looked at how everything was laid out and figured our days out around that making sure that we hit those spots.

Tip #2: Public Transportation (the most important tip of them all!)

Berlin has an amazing network of underground metro, streetcars, and buses that work really well for tourists. In fact, we parked our car at the hotel on Friday and didn’t touch it again until we were leaving on Monday. We relied solely on walking and public transportation and it was really easy to navigate. Depending on how long your stay is, Berlin has transport cards that you can use across all three public transport options, but if you are going for up to a week, they have a Welcome ticket that also will give you discounted tickets to some of the attractions in Berlin. It is a great option and I think this might be one of my most important tips in all of my Berlin tips.

Tip #3: Fernseturhm

If you want to go to the Fernseturhm/TV Tower then this tip is for you. First off, an obvious part, verify that you are going to have good weather for the platform. You don’t necessarily want rain (although you will still be able to see most everything) and you definitely DO NOT want fog. When we went up the fog had started to set in at the end of a very rainy day and we didn’t get to see as much as we wanted to. My other tip would be to be prepared to wait. There are some shopping centers nearby as well as the Berlin Cathedral, but if you get there at any other time than early/first thing in the morning, you will have a wait time of around 2 hours before you can go up. This is to help control the numbers of people at the top at any given time. They have a service that will text you 30 minutes prior to your number being called to go up, although we didn’t know about this until after the fact (our lack of knowledge= your gain!).

Tip #4: Off The Beaten Path

I usually suggest this with any trip, but when you are looking for food find the little hole in the wall restaurants. Yes, sometimes the bigger restaurants will speak your language, be more palatable for youngsters, and be more tourist friendly, but you’ll get a more authentic feel at the little hole in the wall spots. The bakery that we went to one morning was tiny, one table inside, two outside and had some really tasty food. The barbecue place we went to the first night was the same. Of course you can stick with the bigger options, but then you won’t be getting that full experience and that is part of the fun of travelling.

I think that pretty much sums up everything I wanted to recommend and the tips that I wanted to share! Please let me know if you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them AND, if you have been to Berlin, please chime in below with any tips or recommendations you may have J

March In Travel

Good morning! We have reached the end of March, say what?!, and it is time to recap our travel over the past Month! It has been a month of exploration for us, both “close to home” and a long weekend away. All of it exiting and full of new adventures!

The first weekend we ventured out to a semi nearby town called Amberg. I think that at this time this is probably my favorite city that is near us. It is just so quaint and has the perfect combinations of olde world and modern, crowded but still quiet with cobblestone lined streets and little shops and bakeries. There is so much to just explore by walking through the streets and a wide variety of shops to be found. We spent a lovely day here.

The next weekend we decided to stick to somewhere that we already ventured to for two reasons: 1) We needed to pick up some things and knew that it had the stores we needed and 2) It gave us a chance to experience the train system. The train system is really user friendly here and is fairly straightforward when you are making those easy commuter trips. We boarded and road for about 30-40 minutes in to Regensburg. Didn’t have to worry about finding parking, paying for parking, or navigating in and out of the city. Once we were done with our shopping and exploring (because we did still head over to a couple spots we hadn’t been to yet) we simply boarded the train back home.

The third weekend in March (St. Patricks Day weekend), we headed to Berlin for the weekend! I’ve already done a whole post breaking our trip down to inredible detail, chock full of pictures that you can read HERE and I’ll be do a recommendation/tips post in the next couple weeks for Berlin. I won’t touch on it too much, but I really loved this trip. It was a last minute decision and whirlwind 72 hours, but it was so much FUN. I think this is the way to travel and I can’t wait to do more of it in the coming years.

This past weekend we made a very important, but very difficult visit to Dachau Concentration Camp. I am not going to go into too much of it here as I have a full blog post prepared to post about it, but I’ll just say this-No words. There are no words.

We do have plans for the upcoming weekend, but I don’t know how they will all end up working out. Whatever we do end up doing I will share over on IG/Facebook, and will try to remember to include in my April Travel Wrap Up.

Round the Kettle Ep 10: An Unplanned Reality Check?

How are you? How have the past couple weeks treated you?

We’ve been…keeping busy over here to put it lightly. But, I’ll be completely honest with you, I don’t really know what else to share about the past couple weeks that I haven’t already talked about in previous blog posts. You can read about our Berlin trip HERE and catch my most recent Friday Morning Cups post HERE. These two posts kind of sum up the biggest bits from the past couple weeks.

No, today I want to talk about something completely different than what I thought I would be. I thought I would be touching on what we’ve learned from travelling with two toddlers, our must haves, and just general thoughts, but I just don’t feel like talking about that right now. I may do a full blog post on this later on, but I wanted to go back to something that I heard a couple weeks ago.

There is a lot of conversation around where we are at. The area that we are, the goods, the bads, work schedules, lack of work, etc. I hear both ends of the spectrum, the love, the hate, the ambivalent. I’ve tried to see different perspectives on each situation and conversation I’ve been in and have tried to be understanding to others, as we are all going through different things in life and that affects how we handle things. I know this is all very vague- I’m sorry!

BUT honestly, I feel that we all need a bit of a reality check. Maybe a couple…bear with me for a minute as Reality Check 1 is one that applies to my specific situation, Reality Check 2 is the one that applies to life as a whole. Honestly I’ve been seeing some negativity going around, and not only just here where I am at, but across Social Media as well.

Reality Check #1: How many people would dream to have the opportunity that we have?

Yes, it may not be ideal all the time. There may be times where we miss family, where we miss some of the amenities that we have grown accustomed to and sure there may be times when we just want our family to be together (to be honest, when the work schedule is free it is free, when it is booked, it is booked solid), but we are in Europe. I NEVER dreamed in my wildest dreams that this dream I had held on to for so many years would actually get to come true. Even if Europe was not a dream of yours, it is an absolutely incredible opportunity. Travel here is so much easier and accessible. The number of things to do, history to see, places to go is endless.

Also- this could apply to anyone, not just myself. Think about the good in your life, think about the opportunities that you have been blessed with. I guarantee you there are some. We’ve all been blessed, some more so than others, yes, but we’ve all had some blessings.

Reality Check #2: Your Life and Your situation is what YOU make of it.

Here’s the big life altering piece of advice that is coming in this Round the Kettle…We get one life to live and WE get to choose how to live it. Yes, sometimes there are situations out of our control, yes sometimes there are hiccups, but WE get to choose how we respond to those situations, we get to choose what options we make and where we go from there. If you go into a situation thinking of all the things that could go wrong, thinking of all the negatives, you are setting yourself up to be miserable and to fail. If you go into a situation thinking of the positives, the doors that can open everything changes.

Now, none of this is new or anything like that, but I can’t help but remind myself of this all the time. There are always positives and negatives to any situation, but it is what we choose to focus on that determines our outcome/life/lifestyle/attitude/whatever you want to call it.

Ok, I’m getting off my soapbox now. I just get so aggravated when I see the constant negativity. I know that life isn’t all sunshine and daisies, hell I had a moment this week where I got annoyed because we were in a little hotel instead of our home and we didn’t have all the toys for the kids, and I didn’t have access to some things, yada yada yada. Yea, I had a moment, I GET it. I just don’t dwell in it. I don’t focus on it. I will share about the frustration sparingly, because as much as I believe in sharing the good AND the bad, the moment you let it fester- the moment you give it more than the initial frustration- is the moment it starts to take over. So, I’ll share every once in a while and in sharing, I’ll put a little reminder at the end that the situation is what we make of it. While life isn’t always perfect and things aren’t always happy, that doesn’t mean it can’t be.

If you only take one thing away from me/my blog/my life it is that our attitude, our thought process, our mind controls 75% of our life and outcome.

What do you think? This Round the Kettle went completely sideways from my initial intention and honestly this whole post should either be scrapped or a totally separate post, but I am keeping it as it is. Round the Kettle isn’t intended to be like my regular blog posts, rather just a catch-up chit chat style post. This is just something that I’ve been chatting with others about and has been weighing heavily on me over the past week or so. I wanted to share and chat about it because it is something that even I need to be reminded of from time to time.

In other, more light and fun news, I am taking a couple steps forward in turning this into a proper Podcast! I am doing some research, learning how things work, what is best to do, reading, etc. I hope that I can get things really up and going shortly after we get a house (which we still have no clue on haha).

 

 

Berlin – A Long Weekend

Good morning! This morning I am going to talk {A LOT} about our recent long weekend trip to Berlin. My husband had his first 4-day weekend through is work and we felt as if it would be remiss to not go SOMEWHERE for the weekend. We debated between going to Berlin and Munich and Berlin ended up winning (obviously…). We did this a little bit last minute (although we have a bucket list of places to choose from, as well as a breakdown of potential amounts of time that we would need to feel comfortable traveling those places), but we booked the hotel and such only a few days before we actually left. I won’t go on too much longer as I have A LOT to tell you. I’ll be doing a whole “Things We Learned” post separately, so this will just be what we saw/did…which is still A LOT.

I will say, it is currently mid-March. This means rain, cloud cover, occasional snow and 40-50Farenheit temperatures. We had planned for this to happen and while the weather didn’t impede us from doing what we wanted to do, it is definitely a factor.

We left for Berlin early Friday morning and had decided to drive there, but then park the car and rely on public transport while we were actually there. It’s about a 4.5-5 hr drive for us (including stops) and that was a decent distance for both us and the kids. They were able to be occupied for most of the drive by everything outside and they napped for a little bit. It was a pretty easy drive, just a hop on the autobahn and away we went.

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My husband had done a bit of Expedia shopping around and settled on the Kastanienhof Hotel. This was such an incredible hotel to stay at. A little on the pricey end, but it’s also Berlin, so it could be a more inexpensive option. We got a “suite” option which had a separate little bedroom set up for the boys that we could close the doors on at night for sleeping. We had a good-sized bathroom and a little minibar set up. The best part is the hotel is right next to a pick-up point for the Streetcar, so it works perfectly.

We spent Friday afternoon/evening at the Berlin Wall Memorial. This is a notorious spot in the wall, which bisected an apartment building, park, and was one of the original crossing points, the wall has portions that are still intact and portions that were picked at when it “came down”. This is a running theme throughout quite a bit of Berlin. There are portions of the wall still up in a quite a few areas, both museum/historical and just regular spots. Across the street from the tower/wall you can head in to the Documentation Center and up to the overlook. The overlook gives you a good look from above at what the wall was like. There is an exterior and interior portion, with a tower in the middle.

IMG_5373.jpgOnce we finished there, we headed out for dinner at a local hole in the wall barbecue joint, Chicago Williams BBQ (which was delicious) and then back to the hotel for some sleep. I will say- just on this first day we had walked just over 2.5 miles, and this was our “light day” (we walked a total of around 20 miles through the whole weekend and I don’t know how many flights of stairs).

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The next morning, we woke up somewhat early after a night of…”sleep”…amongst the city sounds of Streetcars, Bikes and regular cars outside our window. I am not opposed or even mad about this, it was just something that we had to spend that first night adjusting to. Saturday morning, we decided to head over to another hole in the wall restaurant, this time a bakery for a quick breakfast before heading out for a day of exploring. We had lofty plans for the day and even the forecasted rain wasn’t going to stop us.

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We started at Checkpoint Charlie. Checkpoint Charlie is probably about the only crossing point you’ve really heard about in terms of crossing at the Berlin Wall. It has seen demonstrations, stand offs, escape attempts and was demolished in a full formal ceremony. Now they have the building for the checkpoint where you can take pictures (they even have a couple actors that you can pay to take pictures with) and a full museum across the street. The museum covers a brief history of the wall, but focuses mostly on different escape attempts, including vehicles and such that were actually used, and people that are closely tied to the Berlin Wall. This was a must see on our list.

The second must see on our list was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe/Holocaust Memorial. I had heard about what walking through this memorial was like and let me say, words cannot begin to describe it. The site is filled with concrete slabs of varying height and there is an underground area that lists out the names of the murdered Jews of the Holocaust. It has a cold, sobering almost inhuman affect as you walk through it. It feels like a cemetery, but the slabs do not have any notations (like tombstones would) which I think adds to the sobering affect. It can be a bit overwhelming when you think about the actual facts and numbers, but this is one of the most well-done memorials I feel.

Since we were in the area (and needed a bit of an uplifting view), we headed over to one of the biggest tourist spots in Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate. It certainly did not let us down as we fought around people, street performers, and cars to take a look. It was totally worth the fight. From there we decided to walk down the road a little bit and take a look at The Soviet War Memorial. This commemorates the Soviet soldiers who fought and died at the Battle of Berlin in Spring 1945. You can walk through the memorial and into the Tiergarten on the other side. With the Tiergarten you can walk the paths and head over to the Reichstag Building Deutscher Bundesta- Plenarbareich Reichstagsgebaude). This building has a long and storied history of being built, fires, wars, divided country and reunification. It currently houses the Parliament of Germany and if you would like to tour the inside, you will need to purchase a pass/ticket and go through background, etc. Think of it along the lines of The US Capital or White House. It is an official government building.

 

1231152903949824964_IMG_0581.jpgThe last place we stopped at on Sunday was the Fernsehturm Building (or the TV Tower). Built in the 60’s and at 368 meters, this is the tallest structure in Germany, and it serves a couple of purposes. It serves as the location for TV and Radio, but also has a viewing platform at 203 meters up and a restaurant at 207 meters up.

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We picked the very wrong day/time to go up to the observation deck as the fog was coming in just before we went up, but we still enjoyed a decent view. The longest part of the timeline was waiting to go up. We finished the day with dinner at a restaurant right near our hotel and then headed almost straight to bed afterwards.

Sunday started out as a beautiful day. We wanted to make the most of the sunshine, so we headed out early for breakfast and then planned to go over to the East Side Gallery. For breakfast my husband had found this little bakery on Trip Advisor that he decided we needed to go to.

Called Zeit Fur Brot it had the most delicious variety of Cinnamon Rolls I’ve ever had. They are huge, heaping with both icing and cinnamon, but not too sugary sweet, baked right there in the shop fresh throughout the morning (you can watch them do this as well which is really cool). This is hands down a MUST stop place (in fact my husband went and got them to go on Monday morning for us).

After a delicious breakfast we hopped on the underground (and then a bus) and headed to see the East Side Gallery. This is a mile-long portion of the wall that has been painted by various artists. It showcases artists from around the world and some of the paintings are quite moving.

It was so beautiful and truly showed how you can take something that is such a horrid piece of a history and turn it into something good. The way this has been repurposed is wonderful. It also sits right on the water and once we were done walking (and while we were trying to figure out our next stop) we sat and watched the water, the birds, and the storm come in. It was so relaxing and a nice little moment.

Noting the incoming rain storm, we decided to head over to a museum, this time The Topography of Terror which (I think) is the only museum dedicated entirely to World War 2. The landscape has both Berlin Wall remnants AND WW2 building remnants which was very interesting to see. This site was where the most important institutions of the Nazi’s were located. It served as the headquarters of the Gestapo, the Leadership and Security Service, and the Reich Security Main Office. The museum goes through the specifics of the command and people that were involved in these offices as well as facts about the Nazi rise to power, their actions, and their downfall. You can walk through portions of the build site on the outside.

7297860356480843521_IMG_0542Our second to last stop we made on Sunday was to the Berlin Victory Column. This is actually not the original spot of this particular monument; the Nazi’s had moved it from its original location to where it now stands. At 66 Meters (almost 67) the open-air viewing platform is dizzying, not to mention the thin circular stairs that you climb to get to the platform itself.

 

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From the platform you can see all across Berlin and we got a much clearer view of the city. There is also a lower platform (much much lower) that gives a nice all-around view as well. As terrified as I am of heights (and the almost panic attack I had on the tiny platform), I really think that this is a spot to visit! The view was unforgettably beautiful even on a cloudy day.

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We stopped over at the Berlin Cathedral to take a peak. I really enjoy seeing cathedrals, with their massive domes and bells that ring every hour. We weren’t able to go in due to a service starting and dinner rapidly approaching, but we were in awe of what we did see.

-3894708180345114520_IMG_0604.jpgOur final morning in Berlin we decided to make a last-minute decision and head to one of the animal attractions that Berlin boasts of. We figured this one would be solely for the kids (although we got a lot out of it too) and it would be a good energy release before the long drive back home. We didn’t go to the Berlin Zoo, rather we opted for Tierpark. We had several reasons for this, I think this one is the bigger more spread out option and it took us out of the city a little bit. We picked the right spot.

Let me be clear, we spent 3 hours here and didn’t even see a fraction of the animals that they have. Not only do they have a large {mostly} open air zoo, it also serves as a park, and they currently have several baby animals. We saw so much mother/baby animal bonding going on it was too much for my momma heart to take! I can’t even begin to tell you how incredible the little bit of time we spent here was. Not only do I highly recommend it, but I would caution you to budget a whole day for it.

That about sums up our Berlin Weekend!I know this was a LONG post, but we just did so much, and I wanted to share some information about each of the spots that we went to. I’ll be sharing my own recommendations and tips in a separate post coming soon. I also have a video up on Facebook that shows some clips of our travels. I hope you enjoyed seeing Berlin through our eyes.-1279016770161338670_IMG_0552