Hot Film, Cold Fish, Warm Wine, Cool Day

How many times have I had the same conversation with avid travelers? (Countless!) They tell me how they always avoid the tourist traps and instead seek out the favorite haunts of the locals. That way they get the real flavor of a place, not the overhyped and over-priced attractions, but the experience of how the natives REALLY live.

berlin day 2Yesterday I spent the afternoon with two REAL Berliners, doing the REAL things REAL Berliners do. First we went shopping at a British bookstore and then saw an American blockbuster in the original. On the way home we stopped at a Japanese restaurant for some take-out sushi and sake. This was followed by a nightcap of Scottish whiskey and a round of English Scrabble.

All in all, another REALLY nice day in the German capital. Typical!


9 thoughts on “Hot Film, Cold Fish, Warm Wine, Cool Day

  1. Ah, I like Berlin! I may have missed your slot but I recommend a walking tour – you can pick up free ones that are tips only, and I found it really interesting. That place where they burned the books where they still have a glass floor into a library really moved me, as did the holocaust memorial.


    1. I was just being facetious – my hosts are the best Berlin tour guides a person could ask for. But I have never seen the “place where they burned the books” or the glass floor – where is that exactly? I will definitely go there on my next visit. I also absolutely loved the Holocaust memorial. In fact, I wrote a post about it when we were there in July (before you and I connected on WordPress). It was called “Labyrinth” ( )

      And while I have your attention. Have you got any insider tips for places to go in London with 13 and 14 year olds?


      1. Ahhh I wrote a really loooong post of suggestions on the tube this morning, but will probably clog your blog! đŸ™‚ I’ll try and edit it and post it tonight!


      2. Okay, here’s my mammoth compilation! It’s probably too much but feel free to mail me if you have any questions! đŸ™‚

        It’s here: I love the book The Book Thief and it blows my mind that this happened to real people. And real books. I’ll read your post. I think Berlin is a great city – I once ran a marathon through it (in my old, fitter days!).

        London! So many things! Depends when you are going but here are my ideas:

        Afternoon tea (I know you have two girls but boys like it too as there is always lots of food!). I recommend The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at the Sanderson (near Tottenham Court Road tube). It’s very quirky and fun. For traditional try Claridges or the Ritz. For the view try one of the restaurants at The Shard (Gong @Shangri La is one). Another good one is the Athenaeum – they did do a kids’ Paddington themed tea but not sure if they still do. For quirky try Sketch (egg pod toilets are the mad bit, and it’s off Regent Street where all the nice shops are). Or if they’re into fashion, Pret-a-Portea at the Berkeley is fun, all fashion themed. All of those are quite expensive, around £50-£60 for adults, not including optional champagne and not all have kids discounts, although you usually get refills (too much food!) and at the Berkeley you even get a box of extras to take away. For slightly cheaper, the Wolseley is really nice, Art Deco French. Or the Orangery at Kensington Palace Gardens is cool. Or Ham Yard hotel is apparently good with kids, though I haven’t been. I am an afternoon tea fan, as you can tell!

        Other than that, I always recommend going somewhere tall for the view. The Shard is incomparable! You may as well buy a drink at one of the bars or go for afternoon tea, rather than pay £25 or whatever just to go up. There are good restaurants in Heron Tower – Duck & Waffle and Sushi Samba. I prefer Sushi Samba as it’s more funky although you can get brunch at D&W. (For any restaurants/teas I recommend booking. It’s very hard to get walk ins at most good places in London.) You also get a good view from One New Change shopping centre near St Paul’s – free to enter. And if they like Mary Poppins then go and sit on the steps of St Paul’s. You can go up in the dome too.

        The Olympic Park is worth a visit. You can even go swimming in the Olympic pool! There is a big open park there with a mini climbing wall and playgrounds although they’re probably a bit old for that. You can hire bikes most places in the city and it’s a great way to get around. You can cycle down Regent’s canal all the way from East (Olympic Park) to West (Regent’s Park) in a few hours. You only have to get off the canal at Islington but you can get back on it. It is a brilliant way to see the city. (You can walk too but it takes a while. And you can drop off the bikes at any bike stand which is good.)

        All museums are free to enter. For kids there is the Natural History Museum which is the most popular. (I love it too!) The Tate Modern is also cool and you can walk across the Millennium bridge (the wobbly bridge!) from St Paul’s. It’s on the river and it’s great to go on a boat journey, either a slow tourist boat or try a rib (speedboat) – you feel like James Bond and it’s really fun. You can usually get tickets on the day so wait for the weather and go pick them up from the office near the London Eye. The London Eye (big wheel) is fun if you haven’t done it before. It’s right by the acquarium too and South Bank is a good place to walk down as it has food stalls etc. I’m also a big fan of tourist buses as I think you see loads of stuff.

        In the east (I try to stay east – west is where the tourists are!) you should try Columbia Road flower market on Sundays. It’s crowded but fun. You can walk from there to the famous Brick Lane where you get curries and they have food stalls at the weekends, and craft stalls in Trumans off Brick Lane. From there you can walk to Spitalfields market which is very popular – lots of craft and food stalls, and nice shops, all under cover. Other food markets I recommend are Borough Market by London Bridge (very famous and crowded!) and the lesser known Maltby Street market (Ropewalk) which is much more manageable and has amazing food.

        In the west, go and see a show if you can. There is a great one called Showstopper the Musical where they improvise a musical based on audience participation. The Comedy Store has shows every day if you like comedy. Or go to Leicester Square cinema and m&ms world! For non uk residents, Primark “Primarni” is a rite of passage for teenage girls. Really cheap, mostly horrible clothes but you can spend £20 and get a whole outfit! The flagship store is by Tottenham Court Road (close to the Sanderson and theatres).

        For shopping there is Oxford Street but it is horrendously crowded. Regent Street has the posh shops and if you walk down there a bit you come to Liberty which is an absolute must visit for girls! It’s a treasure trove of cool stuff. (For department stores it’s also worth a look round Harrod’s food hall, Fortnum & Mason – parlour for a snack, Selfridges for fashion and makeup. LadurĂ©e the macaron place is by F&M and the Ritz, by Green Park!) My favourite place to shop is Liberty and Carnaby Street – down Regent Street and the Carnaby Street area you can cover all the shops you need/want. I don’t know if they’re into makeup yet but there’s Illamasqua and MAC which are fun. Also Irregular Choice for crazy shoes. The shops down Carnaby Street are a bit cooler. (Like Covent Garden but I prefer the vibe.)

        There’s a small arcade there called Kingly Place and an American themed restaurant called Dirty Bones at the top – go there to have hot dogs on a pinball machine table. Lots of cool shops round there including Ben’s Cookies outside Liberty back entrance – best cookies in the world!

        In summary:
        – Afternoon tea
        – Somewhere high
        – Tour (river and/or bus)
        – Shopping


      3. Wow! Thanks so much for all the effort, Nara – this is a treasure trove of info. And no worries about blog clogging – this was already a messy place.
        I should have been clearer that I am coming to London with my school kids (five boys, seven girls) so the tea ideas are probably a no-go. But the shopping and other things are great. I’ll let you know which of them end up on their itinerary. (They have to plan out the four days themselves – thank you Maria Montessori!)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s