Even I cringed at that pun. This time last week, I was in Berlin (this time two months ago I was in Vermont, trying my best to consume 20 scoops of ice cream plus toppings… and that way, madness lies). Our first family holiday in over 11 years ended in zero injuries, with minimal fights. I’m going to call that a win.
It’s a good thing that I’ve accustomed myself to stupid AM flights, because we had to leave the house at 6:30am in order to make our plane. A pit stop in duty free allowed for a purchase of coffee (necessary) and sunglasses (with approval all the way from Melbourne, Australia courtesy of my much-missed friend and holiday partner), and then we were off.
By the time we made it through the archaic – it probably should be some sort of protected building – and ironically-named Schӧnefeld airport and into the city, there wasn’t much of Monday left. We took an evening tour of the Bundestag (formerly the Reichstag – Germany’s Houses of Parliament). As someone with a limited interest in and attention span for history, my tolerance for this kind of activity was already waning, and was further hampered by tiredness. But there were highlights, including seeing how the building has been redeveloped in order to stand as a monument to Germany’s bad times, as well as a positive look at the future. Some would call the interior austere, but it’s actually nice to see a political building which doesn’t waste a huge amount of financial resources on wallpaper or carpeting. It’s a comfortable place to work, but not ostentatious.
The following day involved my favourite activity. The event manager in me fired on all cylinders, and geeked out over the sheer brilliance that is the legacy of Berlin’s 1936 Olympics. We visited Berlin’s Olympic Park, and I could’ve happily spent all day there – and that was before I spotted that there were several riders exercising their horses across two outdoor arenas and a miniature cross country course. I enjoyed this trip so much that I’m going to dedicate a separate blog post to it, but here’s the gist: if you’re ever in Berlin, go and see this place.
Having undertaken a 100 minute tour of the stadium and covered more distance than I imagined, I felt like I deserved a treat, so we made for the destination I’d spent most time researching – Fassbender and Rausch, a chocolate shop and restaurant. I failed to persuade my family to dine properly in the restaurant, but I did convince them to indulge in hot chocolate and cake. It was a bit of a busman’s holiday (those who know me well are aware that I’m back in the retail dream world of a chocolate shop as my job), but it was interesting to be the customer for once. The vast shop demonstrated the importance of having staff available on the shop floor to help customers: even though I know where I am with chocolate, I had no idea where to start on this place, so I decided to take photos instead.
Day three of our trip involved more cake, though with disappointingly slow service (at the time of writing, I haven’t completed my Trip Advisor reviews for the visit, but it’s just a matter of time!), though there was a highlight on day three. Mum wanted to visit Berlin’s largest department store, KaDeWe, and it did not disappoint.
Mum was on the hunt for a new perfume, and when we found the department, I made an immediate recommendation (Balenciaga’s Florabotanica). My suggestion wasn’t ignored, but Mum did choose to seek further advice from a sales assistant. Armed with a few samples, we went for a wander around the rest of the store so that she could decide. I swooned when I finally found the section housing my favourite (very expensive) fragrance brand, then tried on some ridiculous sunglasses… before Mum plumped for the first perfume I’d suggested. Definitely missed my calling there… When purchasing the largest bottle of this perfume, you get a silk scarf as a gift. The sales assistants must have liked us, because although Mum bought the smallest bottle, she was given a scarf… and so was I! It promptly got tied to my handbag, and I may also be stealing a splash or two of the perfume, as it’s one of my favourites too (ulterior motive, moi?).
Of course, our budget flight home was delayed (update on my airlines blog post possibly coming soon, now featuring Norwegian Air!), but we made it unscathed. Thanks to the vast portions of food and increased cake consumption, I’m probably three dress sizes bigger, though being back at work might fix that. Not only is it my final trip out of the country for a while, but it’s also my last use of my current passport: it doesn’t expire until next October, but due to US immigration restrictions, that’s not enough validity to enable me to return to camp next summer, if I choose to go. So, as I’m still keeping my options open, it’s time to get into the photo booth and get myself some new ID. The adventure continues… without my family.