This past weekend was a four day break for the kiddos with Fasching, or Carnival, celebrations going on Monday and Tuesday. German schools in predominately Catholic regions of Germany are closed for Rosenmontag and Fastnacht. This year, the holidays lined up with President’s Day on Monday and on Tuesday Jay used a day off that was due to him from his travel to Orlando a few weeks ago.
So we decided to hit the road and travel to a city that we last visited when Alex was just a baby…Berlin!
We left home on Friday evening, drove three hours to a halfway point in Eisenach and spent the night in a simple budget hotel, two double rooms for $118, hooray for IBIS! We were back on the road early Saturday morning and arrived in Berlin with time to spare before our scheduled entry time to the Legoland Discovery Center. This was the boys’ first stop request!
Upon entering the city, we were greeted by the Siegessäule (Victory Column) which stands on a large intersection called the Großer Stern (Great Star) where five roads converge. Completed in 1873 and having survived World War II, the Victory Column was designed to commemorate the ‘Unification Wars‘ :: Danish-Prussian War (1864), Austro-Prussian War (1866) and the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71).
The monument has a viewing platform (a steep 256 step climb) with views to the east down Strasse des 17 Juni of the Brandenburg Gate and beyond to the Berliner Fernsehturm (TV Tower).
Pop Culture note:: The golden statue, named Victoria, atop the column was featured in the music video to U2’s “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)” from their 1993 album Zooropa. Watch the video:: here
To burn off some of the energy from time spent in the car, we found a little playground in Tiergarten Park.
After blowing off some steam at the playground, it was time to head to the Legoland Discovery Center. Parking was convenient in the underground parking garage at the Sony Center Complex, Potsdamer Platz.
The discovery center is arranged by theme. The boys’ favorite areas included ::
Lego Miniland :: Built out of over two million lego bricks, the most important buildings of Berlin are on display here. Many of the scenes include buttons which when pressed, animate a portion of the scene. Among the featured buildings are the Stadtschloss (City Palace), Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate), Reichstag (Parliament Building) and the Berlin Dom (Cathedral).
Lego Miniland Star Wars :: This area includes interactive features in several Star Wars scenes built out of lego bricks.
Lego Factory Tour :: Where the step by step process of turning raw plastic into lego bricks is shown.
Lego Build and Test Center :: Race cars can be built here and then placed on the test track and raced against other builders. Time and speed is also measured on the track.
Lego Discovery Center Shop :: Each of the boys used money gifted to them from Christmas and Valentine’s Day to buy a lego set that they built later in the evening.
By the time we wrapped up our visit to Legoland Discovery Center, it was getting late. We made arrangements by phone to meet the check-in person to get the keys for the apartment we would stay in for the next three nights. The apartment was located on the sixth (and top) floor of a building located on a quiet street in the Berlin Mitte neighborhood (city center & considered the historical heart of the city). A parking spot in an underground garage was included and the apartment was conveniently close (100 meters/0.06 mile) to public transport so we never had to take the car out. If you are interested in taking a peek at the apartment. Photos and booking info can be found here :: Attic-Apartment in Berlin-Mitte incl. underground parking / Wlan / Lift / TV tower view
The boys and I settled into the apartment as Jay walked to a nearby grocery to grab some essentials. We got cozy in our jammies and Lego set building commenced.
Coming soon….Day 2 & 3 of our adventures in Berlin!