Western Europe

Berlin’s Palace of Tears

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…

Modernism in Alcoi, Spain

Modernism in Alcoi, Spain

It was a hot Sunday morning in August when I walked from the deserted Plaça d’Espanya into the visitor’s information office in downtown Alcoi, Spain. The lone woman at the counter seemed thrilled to have someone to talk to. All I wanted was a map, but she insisted on telling me, in detail, about everything…

Reconsidering Benidorm

Reconsidering Benidorm

Benidorm is one of those places everyone has an opinion about, and it usually isn’t good. When I asked my husband what he thought of the place, he described it as “an overgrown beach town with high buildings right up to the beach.” It was full, he said, with “loud Dutch and fat, pale, English…

Rethymnon in half a day

Rethymnon in half a day

The town of Rethymnon on the north coast of Crete is a popular destination for visitors who want to venture away from their all-inclusive resorts for a bit of local color. The narrow streets of its old center wind between rows of narrow houses with balconies, often overflowing with flowers. Shops sell everything from made-in-China…

Ter Apel Cloister

Ter Apel Cloister

The village of Ter Apel has been in the news a lot lately. A huge refugee center there is the first home for hundreds of Syrians, Eritreans, Afghans and others seeking safety and a new life in the Netherlands. Ter Apel’s claim to fame, though, if you can call it famous, is a medieval cloister…

What to do in Zaanse Schans

What to do in Zaanse Schans

Frequent travelers often express a certain disdain for places that are “touristy,” meaning crowded with tourists: San Marco’s square in Venice, for example, or the Tower of London, or the Forbidden City in Beijing. Many of us avoid such places, preferring the more off-the-beaten-track destinations. Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on…

Visiting Dutch Gardens

Visiting Dutch Gardens

When you think of the Netherlands and gardens and flowers, what comes immediately to mind? I assume your answer is “tulips.” Tulips are cultivated here in huge quantity and they or the bulbs are exported all over the world. Keukenhof and Giethoorn One of the biggest attractions for tourists in the Netherlands is Keukenhof, a tulip…

Exploring Amsterdam’s Undiscovered North

Exploring Amsterdam’s Undiscovered North

Once overlooked by travelers, the borough of Amsterdam Noord (Amsterdam North) has developed into a thriving artistic community, a spot for dance and music festivals, and an escape from Amsterdam’s chaotic and touristy center. This is – or, rather, was – a sponsored guest post, originally published by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on December 10, 2015. The Hipmunk brand…