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WWII and Cold War sites in Berlin

Berlin is a wonderfully diverse and dynamic city, and especially intriguing to visit as a tourist with an interest in history. In particular, Berlin is the place to go if you like learning about 20th century history, and, more specifically, World War II and the Cold War. I’ve written about a number of Berlin’s WWII and Cold War sites separately,…

The Reichstag dome as seen from the roof

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Touring Reichstag Dome for a Wider View of Berlin

It’s not the kind of sightseeing I usually do, but touring the Reichstag dome was so highly recommended by a friend that I decided to do it anyway. It was also a bit of a relief after all the grim history I’d been learning about at the DDR Museum, the Stasi Museum, the Berlin Wall Memorial and the Jewish Museum….

The Stasi Museum Berlin looks like an ordinary office building from the early 1960s.

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Stasi Museum Berlin: The Dark Heart of East Germany

At both the DDR Museum and the Palace of Tears, I learned about the kind of everyday surveillance that East Germans endured in Cold War Germany. To find out more, I went to the Stasi Museum as well. Disclosure: As at all the museums I visited in Berlin, I received free admission. Nevertheless, all opinions are my own. The Stasi…

metal faces on the floor of the memory void in the Jewish museum Berlin

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The Jewish Museum in Berlin

After my experience at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, I was apprehensive about visiting the Jewish Museum in Berlin. This, I thought, is something they will have to get right. After all, Berlin was Hitler’s capital city, the place where leaders managed the bureaucratic tasks necessary to carry out the genocide he planned. You could say that this city,…

street art at Haus Schwarzenberg, Berlin

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Street Art in Berlin with Alternative Berlin Tour

The meeting place for the street art tour by Alternative Berlin Tour was easy for me to find. I looked for the guide at the base of the Berlin Television Tower in front of the Starbucks. I loved the irony of starting an alternative walking tour in front of a Starbucks. Ben from New Zealand, our tour guide for the afternoon, was easy…

Getting a visa was no easy task unless you had official business in West Germany or elsewhere in the world.

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Berlin’s Palace of Tears

Walking into the Palace of Tears is stepping back in time. The floor tiles, the wall clock, the “modern” design of the building: all hearken back to a 1960s aesthetic in interior design. Standing on East German territory since 1962, the Palace of Tears was an addition to the older Friedrichstraße train station. This station stood on East German soil but…

the view of the restored piece of the Berlin Wall in the Berlin Wall Memorial

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The Berlin Wall Memorial Illuminates Berlin’s Divided Past

The consequences of the division of Berlin by the Berlin Wall (1961-1989) are visible all over the city. The Wall was a wide, empty gash through the city, and that gash has, ever since the Wall “fell” in 1989, been repurposed in a variety of ways. In some places, buildings encroach on the space: Potsdamerplatz is a good example, where some fancy…

a daytime shot of the Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin

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The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin

The night I arrived in Berlin was full of color and light: the annual Festival of Lights was underway. A light show projected onto the Brandenburg Gate kept the crowds entertained in the cold autumn air. Walking the short distance from the Brandenburg Gate to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe meant, both literally and figuratively, walking from…

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Things to do in Heimaey island, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

Puffins. That’s why we decided to visit Heimaey island in the Westman Islands, Iceland. Heimaey is home to one of the largest puffin colonies in the world. We had to see that. It turned out, though, that there were other things to see and do in Heimaey as well. Heimaey Island is part of Vestmannaeyjar, also known as the Westman…