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street art at Haus Schwarzenberg, Berlin

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…

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

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…

souvenirs available to East German tourists when they visited East Bloc countries. The sign explaining them states "Wall units displayed Russian dolls or other products from the series Knicknackery and Dust-gathery until they were finally stowed away in the cellar." DDR Museum, Berlin

A Peek into East Germany at the DDR Museum

In my last post, I wrote about the Berlin Wall as a gash across the city. What brought me to the Berlin Wall Memorial was my visit just the day before to the DDR Museum in Berlin. That museum and its hands-on portrayal of life in the former DDR (called the German Democratic Republic or GDR in…

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

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…

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

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…

statue of the Town Musicians of Bremen beside the Rathaus in Bremen

The Town Musicians of Bremen

A Grimm Fairy Tale Once upon a time, a rooster, a dog, a donkey and a cat, realizing they’d outlived their usefulness and under threat of being eaten or killed, set out toward Bremen. Their plan was to make a living as musicians: the Town Musicians of Bremen. On the way, they passed a cottage…

The Schütting, or guildhall, in Bremen was built in 1537-8 and the entrance was added in the 19th century.

A Weekend in Bremen

My husband and I spent a weekend recently in Bremen, which is about a two-hour trip from home. We didn’t choose Bremen because of anything in particular except that we wanted a weekend away, and we also felt we needed to be close enough to get home quickly if anything went wrong with the three…

St Petri Dom cathedral in Bremen

St Petri Dom in Bremen

If you visit the center of the German city of Bremen, you can’t possibly miss seeing St Petri Dom, the huge church whose massive, chunky twin spires dominate the central squares. St Petri Dom doesn’t have the beauty or grace of, for example, Notre Dame in Paris. As a matter of fact, my first comment…

Christmas market madness

The days are short and the weather is cold, this time of year, and, here in Holland, that often means cold and wet, not snowy. Nevertheless, it’s the most popular time for open-air markets: Christmas markets, to be exact. Going to a Christmas market has become almost traditional in Holland in recent years. Originally, this…