Tag Archives: Berlin Germeny

Berlin – shedding the legacy of the Wall and becoming a city well worth a visit

Berlin, capital of Germany, seen from River Spree

Berlin by boat – the huge Reichstag glass dome is one of the many sights on a boat trip on the River Spree through the centre of Berlin

 

The New Berlin

THE NEW millennium has ushered in a whole bright new era for Berlin – as a European city with something to offer every one of its increasing number of visitors.

Once seen as a destination for the more serious-minded traveller on the dark trail of its wartime past or Cold War fragmentation, it is now pulling in millions of people looking for fun.

These include families on sightseeing and shopping trips as well as partygoers looking for nightlife in the one-time cabaret city of Marlene Dietrich.

One of the best ways to get to know the landmarks quickly is via a boat trip on the River Spree which runs serenely right through the middle of the city yet apart from its crowds and traffic.

If anything symbolises the reshaping of Berlin in the last 20 years, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, it’s the Reichstag building. Now the German Bundestag, it has developed into a major visitor attraction with more than 15 million people visiting it since the transfer of power from Bonn to Berlin.

Set on fire in the Nazi era and severely bomb damaged in World War Two, it survived to be given a major makeover led by British architect Sir Norman Foster. Visitors can now tour a huge glass dome on top of the refurbished building to either look down on life outside the building below or view the work of the politicians inside it.

Within walking distance of the Reichstag is the Brandenburg Gate, another icon of Berlin which was once looted by Napoleon when he occupied the city. It was also given a makeover, from 2000 to 2002, after surviving wartime damage and becoming a symbol of the divided city prior to the fall of the Wall.

These former troubled times now give the city a tourist trail like no other which includes a chance to tour in a Trabant, the car produced in former East Germany, offered by the Trabi Safari company.

The old Berlin

The DDR Museum offers a snapshot of life in the old days of Soviet occupation which ended in 1990 and Checkpoint Charlie, the famous east-west border control during the Cold War, is now a tourist centre with display boards telling the Wall’s story.

Potsdamer Platz is a buzzing commercial centre with restaurants, bars and cinemas – a great place to get a sense of the new fast-moving Berlin. Sixty years ago, this spot was Berlin”s answer to Piccadilly Circus.

Then it was destroyed in the war and left desolate when the Wall was built across it.

Useful websites www.visitberlin.de

www.germany-tourism.co.uk

*If you are flying easyJet to Berlin you can buy onboard a 26 euro three day travel welcome card valid for one adult and up to three children under 14-years-od.

The Dolomite Mountains in Italy are an all-year round magnet for activity seekers

a href=”http://globewanderer.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/The-Dolomites.jpg”img class=”size-medium wp-image-73″ title=”The Dolomite Mountains, Italy” src=”http://globewanderer.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/The-Dolomites-300×200.jpg” alt=”Dolomite Mountains” width=”300″ height=”200″ //a Italy’s Dolomite mountains

THE Dolomite mountains in Italy are in a class of their own – a fact recognised In August, 2009, when they  were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Whether they are covered in snow or not,, they are an all-year-round  magnet for the tourist and sportsman and there really is something there for everybody.

The Dolomites are like no other peaks in Europe. They rise in steep spires, chiseled by nature to form the most striking of mountains. Although part of Italy, they have a strong Tyrolean feel to them.

In the winter the region’s famous Val Gardena is a haven for skiers but in the spring in turns to an Alpine picture book and you half expect  to see the von Trapp family come singing over the hills.

The village of Selva, one of the three main villages in the Val Gardena, is the home of the unique Ladinos who are proud to tell you they speak a language shaped out ancient Latin features but decidedly all their own.

One of the surprises the Dolomites has in store for you is the via ferrata. A cable car whisks you to a height of around 2,400m and a guide ropes you in to a harness to take you rock climbing.

You are actually following in the footsteps of Sylvester Stallone in the area where filming was carried out for Cliffhanger.

Hanging from a cliff face can be easier than it looks with the help of an experienced guide and a small rope which clips on and off a steel cable as you make your way up a rock face to the top of a limestone tower.

A via ferrata – iron road – is a mountain route equipped with fixed cables, stemples, ladders, and bridges. The first via ferratas were built in the Dolomites during the First World War, to aid the movement of mountain infantry, and the Dolomites probably still has the greatest number.

If you get addicted to this activity, there are long distance trails which take at least a week.

The Dolomites’ rugged peaks, surrounded by picture postcard scenery,  create a paradise for climbers, walkers and cyclists and every June the area hosts the Sellaronda Bike Day – the one Sunday of the year when all passes around the Sella massif are closed to cars. Thousands of keen cyclists ascend the various routes.

The local cuisine is renowned for its subtle fusion of Italian and Austrian cooking.

The closest airports to Selva are: Innsbruck with a transfer  time to the resort of one hour and 30minutes; Verona, three hours; and Milan, also three hours away.

Useful websites are a href=”http://www.suedtirol.info” rel=”nofollow”www.suedtirol.info/a and Dolomiti Adventures at a href=”http://www.dolomiti-adventures.com/” rel=”nofollow”www.dolomiti-adventures.com//a