Adina Apartment Hotel Berlin

The Adina Apartment Hotel Hauptbahnhof is an awesome place to stay in Berlin. I lived in this hotel for a month with my two dogs when I moved to Germany.

Adina Hotel Apartment Hauptbahnhof Berlin, Pet Friendly

Adina Hotel Apartment Hauptbahnhof Berlin, Pet Friendly

Adina Hotel Apartment Hauptbahnhof Berlin, Pet Friendly

The hotel itself is very nice. There’s a pool, a bar and restaurant (with really good food!), and the staff is very nice.

Adina Hotel Apartment Hauptbahnhof Berlin, Pet Friendly

Adina Hotel Apartment Hauptbahnhof Berlin, Pet Friendly

If you stay in the apartment suites, like I did, you will get a full kitchen, a washer and dryer, a living room and bedroom, both with TVs.

Across the street is a nice little square with grass so taking the dogs out is pretty simple. We saw lots of other dogs during out stay, too. I’m not exactly sure what the pet fee is because my company negotiated it down to 50 euros for the entire month (a steal!).

Another good thing about this hotel is it’s proximity- it’s near to the main train station and an underground stop (Naturkunde). It’s also walkable to the Oranienburger/Friedrichstrasse area which is chock full of great restaurants and shops. There are several grocery stores in the area as well. Finally, if you like museums there is an art museum and a natural history museum a mere stone’s throw away. Highly recommended!

Adina website
Pet fee: Reportedly 10 euro per pet/per day, but for me it was less than 2 euros per day as I stayed for 30 days and the fee was negotiated.

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Lloyd Hotel Amsterdam

Lloyd Hotel Amsterdam, Pet Friendly

The Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam is a pet-friendly joint a mere three tram stops from the main train station and Amsterdam’s main drag. There is no pet fee, but they do take a $50 refundable deposit at check in. They do not let you leave your dog unattended in the room. This worked out OK for us this time, since my husband was working from the hotel room and able to watch the dogs while I was sightseeing on my own.

Lloyd Hotel Amsterdam, Pet Friendly

One great aspect of the hotel is that it is right behind a “park.” While not much of a park, it does have a ton of easy to access grass. Always good when you’re traveling with dogs.Lloyd Hotel Amsterdam, Pet Friendly

The hotel itself is strange- you can pick a room anywhere from one to five stars, each priced differently. Once you get into the three star and up range, each room has been designed by a different Dutch designer.

Lloyd Hotel Amsterdam, Pet Friendly

Ours was pretty cool looking. Oh except for this open shower…which makes a mess (especially around dirty dog paws) and could be awkward depending on who you are bunking with! It’s OK, Murphey liked it anyways. Lloyd Hotel Amsterdam, Pet Friendly

This is the park as seen from our room’s window. My only complaint about this hotel was that it was a little noisy (a trade off for being so close to the tram stops- trams run directly from here to the train station, Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House) and hot (no A/C).

Lloyd Hotel Amsterdam, Pet Friendly

Since you can’t leave your dogs alone in the hotel room here, it’s good that there are also a few nearby cafes with al fresco dining and the hotel restaurant/bar is open late with a patio. Dining out is expensive in Amsterdam so it’s also good news that there is a large grocery store across the street. This was our grocery store breakfast one morning. Lloyd Hotel Amsterdam, Pet Friendly

All in all, I like the Lloyd Hotel- it’s got a bit of an off-beat bohemian vibe, it’s not very fancy, but it’s fun. Lloyd Hotel Website Pet fee: $50 refundable deposit only

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Brook Kingston Lodge Hotel (London area)

The Brook Kingston Lodge Hotel (20 mins outside of downtown London) is a lovely place. Sure, there’s no spa and the restaurant food is hit or miss (yes to the veggi curry and breakfast scones, no to the pizza). But the staff is amazingly friendly and the best part for those of us bringing our dogs to this pet-friendly hotel- there is a courtyard that makes taking dogs potty as easy as pie! (Tip: request a courtyard room with a sliding door if you are bringing your pet!)

Murphey taking a snooze in the courtyard.

Brook Kingston Lodge Hotel, Kingston, London

The rooms are comfy and see to be on par with other hotels in the area that I’ve stayed at. The location is decent- a 1 km walk to the massive Richmond Park (great for dog walks), and a 2.5 km walk to downtown Kingston where there are shops and restaurants (or catch the bus just outside the hotel). Getting into London can be a pain though, as it requires a 15 min walk to the Norbiton station and then at least two trains at 40 mins or more.

Brook Kingston Lodge Hotel, Kingston, London

I really can’t wait to stay at this hotel again though, because the staff was so nice. Once at lunch I wanted iced tea, which they didn’t have, and the manager made it especially for me. We were also given free champagne on our anniversary, and once when the beer I got from the hotel bar was off, they quickly exchanged it for another. Every time we saw a member of staff they asked if they could help us and offered to make us dinner reservations or call us cab. Truly one of the best customer service experiences I’ve had since I have moved to Europe.

Brook Hotel Website
Pet fee: 10 pounds per night (technically per dog, but they waived the second one for us)

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Brandenburg Tor

The Brandenburg Tor is obviously a must do in Berlin. It’s conveniently located between Tiergarten and Friedrichstrasse, a main shopping road. I often take visitors from my house to a stroll through Tiergarten, hitting the garden, the Siegesaul, Bellevue Palace, catching a glimpse of the TV tower, the Reichstag and finally the Brandenburg Gate. It’s a great walk, and once you’re there you can take the train back, or continue on to Friedrichstrasse for shopping or food.

You only need to allot a small amount of time for the gate, it’s literally a snap-a-picture-and-go type of sight, but it’s iconic and historical. It’s worthwhile to read about its history before you go.

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

Brandenburg Gate, a must-do in Berlin

Good to visit if:
You like history
You need an awesome photo op
You are in Berlin for any length of time- a MUST DO

Find it:
On the web
S or U bahn Brandenburg Tor
Always open, no charge

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Hotel de la Place, Lisieux, Normandy, France

If you’re going to Normandy, you should stay in Deauville, the cutest town that ever was.
But if you don’t, and you and your dogs stay in Lisieux instead, then you should stay at the Hotel de la Place. It’s a bit dated, but it is freshly painted in bright pastels, and the room is big and clean. It’s ideally located in the city center (don’t get too excited, it’s a small town!), and is a quick walk across the street to some grass by the massive and seemly abandoned cathedral. This isn’t a luxury joint- there’s no room service, no spa, the front desk speaks only French, but there’s nothing to complain about here, either. Ok, actually there is one thing; there was no shower curtain which did make for a wet mess in the bathroom.

Small pets are allowed for a mere 5.50 euro per night. This gets you about a million pillows on the bed, which your dog will probably enjoy as much as Tessa did.

Tessa Relaxes in the Pet-Friendly Hotel de la Place, Lisieux

Tessa Relaxes in the Pet-Friendly Hotel de la Place, Lisieux

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Dogs on Italian Trains

Dogs are allowed on regional Italian trains (except during rush hour, 7-9 AM) and overnight trains. (See rules at Trenitalia’s web site). Small dogs in kennels travel free, dogs on leashes are supposed to pay half price. We took small dogs on a leash and no one made us pay anything. You are also required to have your pet passport, which we did, but no one looked at it (and we were on many trains).

Murphey and Tessa Chilling on the Trenitalia

Murphey and Tessa Chilling on the Trenitalia

I read somewhere that the two faster trains, the Frecciarossa and Frecciargento do not allow dogs (except guide dogs) but after extensive googling I cannot find a website that either confirms or denies this. If anyone out there knows, please do let me know so I can correct this information. I do know that dogs are allowed in the Frecciabianca trains, because I took mine on it.

Tessa waiting to depart

Tessa waiting to depart

Tessa loves trains

Tessa loves trains

Murphey smiling on the train

Murphey smiling on the train

Ok I look horrible in this picture, but it’s a must see because of Murphey’s photo-bomb in the background. It makes me crack up every time!

Murphey photobomb

Murphey photobomb

 

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Airbnb With Dogs

In some cities, finding a pet-friendly hotel can be a pain. That’s why I was pleased to find that AirBnB has several pet-friendly hosts! We have been wanting to try AirBnB for a while, ever since we had a successful peer-rental experience with a car via Relay Rides. So we finally pulled the trigger and rented a flat in Florence for a week.

Our AirBnB apartment in Florence

Our AirBnB apartment in Florence

The apartment was super cute (except we kept hitting our heads on the beam in the loft!). It easily slept my husband, myself, my sister (on the sofa bed) and our two dogs. We had no trouble with the hosts over our dogs, there was no additional pet fee, and the location was relatively near to a grassy pet relief area. We will definitely use AirBnB again in the future (I only wish they had loyalty points!)

The view out the window of our AirBnB flat

The view out the window of our AirBnB flat

 

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The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is an open air exhibit consisting of several slabs of concrete at varying heights. That’s really all I can say about it… as a friend of mine said “I wish this was more literal, instead of being so ‘open to interpretation,’” and I have to agree. I didn’t feel anything the way I would expect to at such a serious place. Perhaps other visitors have felt differently, but to me this wasn’t a representation that made me think, or stirred my heart strings- unlike the exhibit of the victims of the Holocaust found at the Jewish Museum. which I found quite moving. The memorial is pretty close to the Brandenburg Gate, so if you’re in the area it wouldn’t been too much trouble to just swing on by.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Good if:
You’re in the area already
You need a new Grinder photo

Find it:
On the web
S bahn Potsdamer Platz or U bahn Brandenburg Tor
Cost: Free

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

 

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Das Boot (Goldman’s bar)

Sometimes you just want to do something stereotypical and fun in Germany. When my sister was visiting from Arizona, I knew I had to take her to drink “Das Boot.” Das Boot, (really “der Stiefel” as Das Boot means “The Boat”) is a traditional drinking game in Germany (more on the history of Das Boot here). I first played it 10 years ago as a study abroad student in Freiburg, Germany.

The basic idea is
1. Once you drink from Das Boot, it cannot be put down (you have to keep passing it around your group)
2. Toe must stay up (it creates an air bubble that pops in your face- part of the fun)
3. The person to the left of the person who finishes has to buy the next round

Easy breezy. Only it wasn’t. Try as I might, I could not find any place that sold Das Boot. Finally, by chance I happened upon some intel that I could find it in the bar under the Circus Hostel in Mitte.

So we headed out to this bar, called Goldman’s bar to see if the rumors were true, and they were! Not only were they true, but it was Karaoke night which is usually awesomely bad in Germany, AND they had a cool shrine to David Hasselhoff. It was the perfect storm of cheesy fun.

Das Boot and David Hasselhoff

David Hasselhoff watches over Das Boot

We did finish our Boot and live to tell the tale. And it was deal at only 10 euro (but 53 euro if you don’t finish, according the bartender, although I’m pretty sure she was kidding). But, beware, when we were there they were down to only 1 boot as the others had all been broken.

Good if:
You want to have some cheesy fun
You like beer
You’re not ashamed to be seen holding a giant boot of beer

Find it:
On the web
U bahn Rosenthaler Strasse
Cost: 10 euro for the boot with beer inside

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Dogs on AirBerlin Part II

Well, we did it. We finally flew with our dogs in-cabin…and it was horrible. You can read Part I (pre-trip) and in this post I’ll break down the actual flying experience for you.

AirBerlin’s Check-In Process

We were on a total of four flights (two originating and two connecting). On both connecting flights, there was no process, we just boarded the plane with the dogs. On the check-in flights, we did have to go through a procedure, but it was different each time. The first time, the agent glanced at the dogs, asked the see their EU Pet Passports and that was it! No weighing, no measuring. On the return flight, we were asked to put the dogs on the scale. The were not in their carriers at the time, so we put them right on the scale and then set the carriers down with them. Both dogs passed the weight test with flying colors. This time we were not asked for their passports and the carrier was again not measured.

Murphey in his carrier

Murphey in his carrier

Security at the Airport

Both times we went through security we had to take the dogs through the metal detector with us, and put their carriers on the x-ray machine. Of course their leashes have metal on it, so the first time the security person just held the dogs while we walked through, but the second time they had us remove their leashes and hold them as we walked through. No problems here.

AirBerlin on the Plane

Once we were on the flight, we had interactions with the airplane personnel. Again, they varied. On one flight, the flight attendant sought us out and gave us the rules (keep the dog in the carrier, under the seat). On two flights no one came by or even seemed to notice our dogs. On the fourth flight I saw the flight attendants specifically check to see if our dogs were all the way under the seat, but they said nothing.

We did have a problem of one of our dogs freaking out (more on this later). I had read that you can hold the dog (in the carrier) on your lap after take off, that they just had to be under the seat during take off and landing, so I put her on my lap once we reached cruising altitude. However, I was reprimanded by the flight attendant who asked me to keep her under the seat at all times.

Overall, AirBerlin was easy to deal with, and we had no trouble with them in this regard. My dogs, on the other hand, were another story…

The Dogs and Their Carriers

One of my dogs, Murphey, is sweet tempered and obedient. He was, unsurprisingly, fine during the flight with only a little restlessness (our flights were 2.5 hours long with a lay over in between). However, my other dog, Tessa, is a bit psycho. She was an absolute terror during the flight.

On the first leg, she thrashed about, hyperventilated, and then did the worst thing she could do- she broke through her carrier.  I had noted some construction issues with the carrier we bought, and it proved to be a problem. She easily busted the zipper and escaped mid flight. I had to literally fold myself over and physically hold her bag closed the entire flight. It was terrible.

When we landed after an hour for our layover, I scoured the airport for something to fix her bag with. We found some luggage straps, twist ties and string and came up with this number:

Airport Repair Attempt on a Broken Trixie Dog Carrier

Airport Repair Attempt on a Broken Trixie Dog Carrier

It held OK for the next flight, but she was still freaking out and my nerves were absolutely shot. I was very anxious for the return flight home, so I spent quite a bit of time in Florence tracking down a vet for some sedatives, which I successfully obtained. I normally wouldn’t have tried sedatives, but I was worried that she would do more damage to herself freaking out (like give herself a heart attack) than the possible side-effects of the sedatives.

On the return flight, we dosed Tessa and she seemed to be very chill. This might work! I though. NOPE. She was even crazier this time! On the first leg she started biting her bag like crazy- and successfully bit a (small) hole in it!

Hole in the carrier

Hole in the carrier

On the second leg, she once again broke out of her bag, and got the loop that attaches to the zipper wrapped tightly around her neck. I couldn’t take it anymore and I pulled her out of the bag, put her on my lap and covered her with my jacket. I had to lay on top of her to hide her and, once again, spent the entire flight folded over her, my back burning, my nerves frayed, and praying for the plane to land soon.

Dangerous loop and shoddy velcro closure

Dangerous loop and shoddy velcro closure

To add the cherry on top, we were so anxious to get her off the plane, that I left both my iPhone and iPad in the seat back pocket, and they have been missing ever since.

I learned a few things from this- first our bag choice was poor. I do NOT recommend the Trixie Josh- the construction flaw of the one velcro-ed end allowed her to break through, and the zipper was shoddy as well which she also managed to break.

Bad zipper

Bad zipper

Secondly, we didn’t train our dogs in the new carrier- as they are already kennel trained, I didn’t think it necessary. Now I wish I had!

Finally, if you have a psycho dog like I do, you might want to consider a hard case. The worst thing that can happen is your dog escaping- trust me, you do not want to deal with that!

After the flight, I swore I would never fly with them in-cabin again. Cargo for us! I declared. But, I must admit I am already devising a way to create a hard case for her (stay tuned for details) and try again. But you can be sure I will train her in it first!!

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