Berlin’s Must Do List

Working your network becomes critical for families trying to plan a weekend trip at the last minute.  Both Facebook and WikiTravel have became my new favorites as I developed an itinerary that blended the interests of 4 adults and 2 kids.  Based on the recommendations of friends who recently visited the city, these were our top sites:
Pergamon Museum… a museum built specifically to house the excavations of the temple in Pergamon as well as showcase the Ishtar Gate from Babylon.  Those Germans were crafty folks in the early 1900s as they plundered valuable treasures from Turkey and took the booty back home
The Berlin Wall… wasn’t sure what I was going to see but I had heard that pieces of the wall still stood in the city.  We found a still-standing segment of the wall dividing old East Berlin from West Berlin and the East Side Gallery showcases pieces of the wall that have been used as canvas by artists in the 1990s.
Brandenburg Gate… the only remaining city gate from the old city.
Cinestar Original Movie Theater at Sony Center…OK, it doesn’t qualify as a historic site but we heard stories  that there was an English-language movie theater in the city and we were eager to watch a first run movie in our native tongue.
We made it into Berlin by noon on Saturday. We left our bags with the hotel reception desk (rooms not available until 2pm) and then took the metro directly to Alexanderplatz, a large shopping district in Berlin.  From there, we followed the blue signs on street posts that direct tourists to the top sites.  We decided to begin our visit to Berlin with a visit to the DDR museum, a place dedicated to better understanding what it was like for residents to live in East Berlin during the Cold War period.  It’s a pretty cool place to hang out WHEN it’s not packed with visitors.  It is such a tiny museum space that reading all the placards and touching the exhibits is practically impossible without bumping into your neighbor. It did have a Trabi on display–this is the car that East Germany designed and marketed after the explosive success of West Germany’s VW beetle.  The Trabi was made out of plastic and once ordered, took 16 years to receive from the factory!
After DDR museum, we found both Dunkin Donuts and the Brandenburg Gate conveniently next to each other.  How happy the kids were to see the donut sign; how surprised I was to be standing in front of the world’s most famous gate!  I’d say it was a win-win afternoon after this stop.
To round out our evening, we hiked over to the Sony Center and did find the English-language movie theater. Tim bought tickets for us to see Spiderman in 3-D and it felt so good to sink into those comfy, rocking theater seats and revel in the English language without having to read sub-titles.  Interesting for us: we were the only English-laguage speakers in the theater.  Everyone else was German or Pakistani!

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