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Adventures With Robin

Your Go-To Travel Source

Welcome! This space serves as a platform for travel agent Robin Norell to share her trips, experiences and expertise with you. Exceeding your customer service expectations is Robin’s primary goal. Having worked for Disney for 2.5 years, she knows how to make your vacation magic. 

Robin has visited 25 countries (Caribbean, Europe, Asia) and 31 states, and has been on 26 river and ocean cruises (so far), visited Disney World, Disneyland and Disneyland Paris multiple times, and she is happy to share her travel experiences and knowledge with you to make your vacation the best it can be.

Robin has been awarded the distinguished certifications of CLIA’s (Cruise Lines International Association) ACC (Accredited Cruise Counselor) Certification, as well as earning her CTA (Certified Travel Associate) certification, has completed the College of Disney Knowledge, and continues to learn more about the travel industry every day.

Excelling in administration and customer service, she takes care of all the details, leaving you free to relax and enjoy!

Independent Vacation Planner

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March 24-25. Berlin

Sunday, March 24 

We had to be out of the cabins by 8am, and breakfast ended at 8:30am. I was bringing my suitcase down the hall when one of the crew members took it for me. I had breakfast and chatted with a couple of agents I hadn’t met before. I finished breakfast around 8:40am, so I grabbed my suitcase and walked to the train station. 

I’m glad I allowed extra time – I had to ask 2 different people before I found the right place to purchase an international rail ticket. I asked for the 10am train to Berlin, and she said she could book a ticket but not a seat. I said I didn’t want to take a chance, so she said the next one was 11:59am. I said okay, and then she exclaimed that there was now a seat available on the 10am, so I took it. 

I had paid $99 for a first-class seat through my suppler (the ticket they couldn't find). Today’s 2nd class ticket (the only one available) was almost 170 Euros (about $185 US). I was very happy to see an escalator to go up to the train platform! The train ride was nice but not very picturesque. I had a window seat and the seat next to me sat open for about half of the train ride. 


I arrived at the Berlin Main station at about 4:10pm, and found my way through the very big train station to the exit and got an Uber to my hotel, the JW Marriott. I went to my room and worked for a bit, and then Ines, Martin, Luis (age 21) and Maggie (age 13) met me outside the hotel. It felt like just yesterday that I saw Ines and Martin, although it has been 17 years! Ines was our au pair in upstate NY when Trevor was a baby. She met Martin when he was also an au pair in upstate NY (he was from Austria). They have been together ever since! We saw them in 1998 in Paris (they joined us there for a few days), and in 2007 in Austria (they stayed with us at a ski resort, and Luis was just 4). I had never met Maggie, who in the photos looks just like Ines when she was younger.  

We walked about a half hour (1.2 miles) to Avan, a “fresh and healthy Asian food restaurant” and had dinner – it was good (I forgot to say not spicy, so my fault; I only ate the shrimp and some of the rice in my dish). I had brought gifts for everyone – I had sent Ines a message before I left home and asked if there was anything they wanted me to bring. Luis said chocolate, so I got him Rocky Mountain chocolates (and of course some of the Lindt chocolate truffles too). Maggie wanted rocks, so I went to a rock shop in Fort Collins and got one rock that was from Colorado, and one that was just really pretty – she loved them both. I also got Ines and Martin hats with Rocky Mountains on them. 

We walked back to my hotel, and they walked back to their car and drove home. 

Monday, March 25 


I had breakfast at my hotel, and then met Ines and Martin at the Potsdamer Platz rail station. There were some pieces of the Berlin Wall there with art on the slabs. We continued walking and went to the sign that designates where Hitler’s bunker was – not much there, as they don’t want to honor in any way this evil man. 

We then walked on to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. This is a large and emotionally powerful area – a large piece of land covered with concrete slabs. The slabs have paths between, they vary in height from a couple of feet to probably 7’ tall, and some of the paths have small hills. Walking between, there was a feeling of being overwhelmed – by the confusion of the slabs (how do you find your way out?), the height of the tall slabs (you can’t see around them, they are guarding you and watching everything you do), and the uneven paths (more challenges in your way). The short ones looked like memorial slabs or caskets. Very well done. Ironically, across the street is the American Embassy. 

Our next stop was Brandenburg Gate. This iconic symbol of Berlin dates back to 1788 and its design was healthy influenced by the Athenian Acropolis. The sculpture on the top, a 2-wheeled chariot being pulled by 4 horses, was intended to signify peace entering the city. The driver is Victoria, the goddess of victory. This sculpture was taken down 3 times – Napoleon took it to Paris in 1806 after defeating Prussia (but it was brought back 8 years later), during World War 2 it was heavily damaged by bombing, and in 1956 it was taken down and replaced. 

When the Berlin Wall was in place, it served as a memorial of the division – it was located in the restricted area so could not visited by either East or West Germans. After the fall of the wall, it again symbolized German unity. 

From this area we could also see the Victory Column, which dates back to 1864 when it was constructed to commemorate a Prussian war victory. It originally stood in a different location, but the Nazis relocated it to the present site and made it taller. It survived WW2 without much damage.  

We walked past the Reichstag (home of the German Bundestag – the President and Parliament), with its dome and roof terrace that is open to the public. 

I learned so much about the Berlin Wall during my visit. One of the biggest learnings was that it a wall that surrounded the western half of Berlin, to keep East Germans out so they could not defect and leave the country. Berlin itself was actually located within Eastern Germany, but after the war it was agreed that this city would be divided in half - East Berlin (controlled by Eastern Germany) and West Berlin (free). There were actually two walls, with an area in between guarded carefully by the Eastern German soldiers. All during my stay we walked back and forth across where the walls once stood, and there are often brick lines in the pavement to show where the wall was. 

It wasn’t built right after the war – from 1945 to 1961 there were barriers, but people could still cross back and forth. But after more than 2 million East Germans left and didn’t come back, they decided to make that travel no longer possible. In one day, the wall went up. Family members who were on the opposite side of the wall were now permanently blocked from their family. 

Next we got on the subway and went to see the East Side Gallery – a display of art on the former wall, a wide variety of artists.


Ines and Martin had purchased tickets for a 1pm 2-hour boat tour. Martin walked to go and get Maggie, and Ines and I wandered a bit. We turned a corner, and both pleasantly gasped in surprise – cherry blossom trees! 

Maggie joined us and we went into the boat. It was quite chilly today – the wind was cold, and luckily I had dressed warmly. But it was nice to sit inside and we had tea and coffee and cookies. Each of us was handed a “wand” with a speaker in it. There was a wide variety of languages from which to choose, so I was able to listen in English and they listened in German. There were not very many times when there was a narrative – they would sound a gong and you would know to pick up your wand, but it was not even 10 times.  

At one point, we came around a corner and a police boat was blocking the river. It was near where the President had his office, and we were told we would have to wait until they were clear. First a helicopter came overhead and landed, and then we waited probably 20 minutes or more, and then the helicopter left, and the police boat moved and we finished. So it was more like a 2.5 hour tour.  

We got off the boat and walked to the MarktHall for a snack. They wanted to take me to get Kasspatzen, which translates to cheese noodles. We got to the kiosk and sadly it was closed. But the sign on it was “handmade mac n’cheese”. So sad! So instead we got Chinese dumplings – some with beef and mushrooms, others with zucchini and carrots (Maggie is a vegetarian and Ines gave up meat for lent).  For dessert, Martin found a croissant stuffed with pistachio cream. Yum! 

Next on our (very busy) agenda was the TV Tower – an observation tower. Luis met us there for our 5:30pm tickets and we went up in the elevator. We were 203 meters high – around 60 stories up. Great 360 degree views of the city. The sun was just starting to peek out and gave a golden glow to some of the buildings and sites. 

Time for dinner, and many of the restaurants we tried nearby were full. We finally found an Italian restaurant, Barist, and had dinner (pizzas and pasta). By the time we were done, it was already close to 9pm, so they took a train home and I took an Uber back to my hotel. 22,000 steps for the day (9 miles)! 


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Robin is an Independent Travel Planner who has been awarded CLIA's (Cruise Line Industry Association's) Accredited Cruise Counselor Certification and The Travel Institute's Certified Travel Associate designation. Her excellent service is yours at no cost - she's paid by the suppliers (hotel, cruise line, etc.), nor does she charge a fee for services. She may even save you money over booking it yourself, as she follows all the specials and will get you a better price after you book with her. When you are planning a family vacation or celebrating a special occasion through travel, you want the best experience possible, and Robin is ready to help you! She provides excellent customer service, and your happiness and satisfaction is her top priority. With the knowledge gained by her extensive travel experience (25 countries, 31 states, and 26 cruises so far) and customer service experience (2.5 years employed at Walt Disney World Resort), she's excited and ready to help you plan new adventures!

Location: Alexandria - VA
Phone: (567) 307-3476
Toll-Free: (866) 779-4830



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