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Oktoberfest With A Toddler? Yes You Can!

Here at Jetlag & Mayhem we are all about looking to inspire and share family travel ideas.  I am so excited to bring you Kirti’s tales of Oktoberfest with a toddler! For those that don’t know, Munich’s Oktoberfest is the world’s largest funfair.  Throw in lots of beer and sausage and you’ve got yourself a great (family friendly) time.  Kirti also combined her trip to Munich with a visit to the capital, Berlin.

Schloss Nymphenburg

Who?
Kirti and her husband plus 20 month old toddler

Where?
Germany – Munich with Oktoberfest thrown in and Berlin (lots of research went into the Oktoberfest part)

When?
26th Sept – 5th October 2014. We were blessed with superlative weather. Blue skies and what the Germans apparently call ‘Altweibersommer’ i.e Indian summer. We were extremely happy with our timing to visit Munich and Berlin.

How did you book the trip?
We booked the flights through our travel agent, Sunpac and as for the hotels, we booked apartments via airbnb.com. We had to organise our visas in advance. Note that Schengen visas require confirmation from the hotel. Online confirmations don’t work. While we didn’t have a problem with the Spanish embassy last year, the German embassy wasn’t so happy with our airbnb confirmations (which is really the only proof you get)

Which airline did you fly?
We took a Lufthansa flight direct to Munich from Hong Kong, which was comfortable. We pre-booked a bassinet seat and I am happy to report that our slightly tall-ish 20 month old toddler fit into it. Ooh also they gave us superlative priority boarding, we went ahead even of First Class passengers!

Regarding the return from Berlin, Tegel airport sucks. Just make sure you are not early. Just aim to be on time for check in and you are sorted. We were there for almost 2 hours and there is nothing to do (made my daughter stir crazy). So used to the idea of having airports with play areas and eating joints (Munich has all those) that Tegel was a shock to the system.

MUNICH

The Apartment

In Munich, our apartment was in a beautiful residential neighbourhood just a 5 min walk away from buses and trams. The apartment however was a little too nice especially with things that my daughter could grasp. So we always had to be wary about this. 

What did we do in Munich?

We landed on a weekend and had been told to avoid the crowds at Oktoberfest (Italian weekend is crazy apparently). Public transportation is super in Munich and extremely easy to use. We headed out to Marienplatz, a central square in the city. On taking the elevator, you get lovely views from the Neues Rathaus (New City Hall) of Munich’s red roofs.

View from New Town Hall

The afternoon was spent quite blissfully at Deutsches Museum of Science and Tech (super kids section) and the even better English Garden.

Kirti - English Garden

My daughter had a blast and was super happy to walk endlessly on the grass and the paths in the Garden. Definite must do when you are here.

Our 2nd day in Munich was spent in the grounds of Schloss Nymphenburg. We didn’t actually visit the castle but the grounds were free to enter and ever so beautiful and again it was a whole lot of relaxed walking. Oooh pro tip: Please head to Sarcletti, at Rotkreuzplatz for the brilliant ice cream. We also spent an afternoon at the Munich Zoo (lots of walking) & most of the animals are not caged and it was super weather to be out and about.

Oktoberfest

Onto Oktoberfest. Make sure you go in the early part of the week (its Family Day on Tuesday) and as early as possible. We got there for 10 am and there were people already drinking in the tents. Lots of buzz, camaraderie, rides for the kids, souvenirs to buy and a whole lot of fun. Our daughter was on a roll and we managed to get to 5 tents in the 2 days we spent there. Also if you are not a beer guzzling person, no fear, there’s lemonade on offer too. Note that it’s not inexpensive. We spent 40 euros roughly with the beer, lemonade and something to eat. It gets very crowded post 3-4 pm so we were out before that.

Oktoberfest tent

BERLIN

The Apartment

In Berlin, we had another airbnb apartment in an area called Kreuzberg, right by the river. The host was extremely thoughtful and had left us a file on everything from public transportation to the best restaurants in the area, which was very useful.

What did we do in Berlin?

Reichstag

Having just an evening the first day in Berlin, we headed to Nikolaivertel which is a lovely area with a super church which is rather minimalist compared to some I have seen. It’s a lovely cobblestone neighbourhood to walk in with eateries, charming shops and musicians playing on the pavements.

The next morning we woke up bright and early to head to the Bundestag. You need to register beforehand and go through some strict security for this. But totally worth it to head to the dome on top of the Bundestag and see Berlin spread out before you in the morning sunshine. From there we walked to Brandenburg Gate where the Wall used to stand previously and then to the Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe. This is a must visit (do make sure you head to the far end where the Information Centre is – makes the memorial very poignant).

We then headed off to Checkpoint Charlie (which has been made into a travesty of a tourist attraction with fake soldiers and what not!). The exhibition there though, was extremely good. Onto Topography of Terror and boy that’s a whole different ball game. Really drives home what the Nazis did and the extent of their depravity.

Wall of Topography of Terror

Day 3 saw us heading out to the Berlin Zoo where our daughter was the only child screaming (or so it felt at the time). She was cranky and well after a while, we gave up and headed back home for lunch and an afternoon nap. The Berlin Wall Memorial is a lovely place to visit in the evening with the setting sun casting interesting shadows on the poles laid out. It’s a fine open air ‘museum’ of sorts which really sets the context for the divide between East/West Berlin.

7 Lake Cruise

We scheduled a day trip away from Berlin because we wanted to relax and not do any sight-seeing. We got ourselves booked on a 7 lake cruise with Stern und Kreisschiffahrt from Wannsee (which is roughly 30 mins away by train from Alexanderplatz). Super relaxing, vicariously living the ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ with fantastic homes, blue waters and skies and the sun blazing down on us in our boat. We got off at Pfaueninsel, which has a wee castle, super super super lovely paths, peacocks and peahens and is surrounded by the lake on all sides. Again our daughter loved the whole natural atmosphere there, and since we had gone in the early afternoon, it wasn’t too crowded either.

Pfaueninsel

Our last day in Berlin, we made it a point to visit Fassbender-Rausch, a chocolaterie which has been there since 1863. Just brilliant and the chocolates just melt in your mouth. A last stop at the East Side Gallery (which is unfortunately not worth the time) and we headed off to Tegel to catch our flight to Munich.

In Conclusion!

I would totally visit Germany again especially to check out the interesting countryside. My daughter loved the sight of ducks in all the lakes and rivers we came across and it was such joy to be in cities that clearly value their green spaces.

Kirti’s Tips

  • I think we also set ourselves a somewhat punishing schedule, which is why we ended up doing so much stuff. We took enough breaks though.
  • Overall we found Berlin to be much more cosmopolitan than Munich. The city changed dramatically as we took taxis across areas in Berlin. Both cities were a wee bit dirty though (slightly unexpected) with cigarette butts being the worst offender.
  • Our meals were definitely better in Berlin than Munich though. Not sure why this happened but our stomachs were happier in the capital especially with doner. Which reminds me, my husband braved hunger and stood for 1.5 hours in a line for doner from the very famous Mustafas, which was fab, but I am not sure worth the 1.5 hr wait! Ooh also the currywurst was very yum – again a must try.

 

If you’ve enjoyed Kirti’s stunning photography, check out her Etsy store where she’ll be selling some of these very photos and more!

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