Cafe Marly at the Louvre in Paris

Cafe Marly at the Louvre in Paris
Relax with a glass of wine at Cafe Marly overlooking the pyramid entrance to the Louvre.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Berlin's Holocaust Memorial

Denkmal für die Ermordeten Juden Europas
(Memorial to the Murdered European Jews/Holocaust Memorial)
Ebertstrasse and Behrenstrasse
Phone: 74072929
Open at all times. Information center open daily 10am-8pm
Admission: Free
S-Bahn: Unter den Linden

This powerful and massive, five-and-a-half-acres memorial of 2,711 gravestone-like columns honors those Jews killed by the Nazis. It opened in May, 2005, after years of planning and controversy. When you are walking along the cobblestone walkways between the pillars, it is intended to invoke a feeling of being lost, alone and disoriented. The paths between the pillars slope down as you move deeper into the memorial. There’s an underground center that includes the known names of those killed in the Holocaust along with letters from those on their way to concentration camps. It’s truly a remarkable memorial that recalls the unimaginable.

Italian dining in Berlin

When you get tired of all that heavy German food while in Berlin, head to Al Sarago. This authentic Italian eatery is located just off the lovely Victoria-Luise-Platz. The staff is extremely friendly and you'll dine with locals on such dishes as ravioli di ricotta burro e salvia. Wash it all down with an excellent bottle of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo red wine. Highly recommended. Info: 1 Regensburger. Tel. 030/2137711. Open noon-midnight.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Eating & Drinking in Paris: The best baguettes in Paris?

If you're looking for the best baguettes in Paris, head to Kayser.

You'll find excellent baguettes, specialty breads like the coarse and hearty pain au levain, and delicious pain au chocolate. Info: 5th/Métro Maubert-Mutualité. 8 and 14 rue Monge. Tel. 01/ and 01/ Closed Tue.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Berlin Celebrates the Fall of the Berlin Wall

After World War II, the Allies divided Berlin into four sectors. The American, French and British sectors became West Berlin, and East Berlin was controlled by the Soviet Union. Between 1949 and 1961, three million people left East Germany. To stop this mass exodus, a 100-mile fence was erected virtually overnight on August 13, 1961, a barrier that remained for 28 years. Ultimately, the concrete wall was 13 feet tall and had a buffer zone (no man’s land) of between 25 and 160 feet. Three hundred guard towers were built to monitor the area around the wall. In that 28-year period, 5,043 people are known to have successfully gotten around the wall. Guards fired at 1,693 people and made 3,221 arrests. In all, 1,067 are said to have died trying to flee East Germany, and as many as 263 of the deaths were at the Berlin Wall. Did you know that the GDR referred to the wall as “The Anti-Fascist Protective Rampart”? Guards suspected of shooting to miss were court-marshaled. A total of 52 military officials and 141 border guards were charged with manslaughter or attempted manslaughter for killings at the border, although most were given suspended sentences. Only 11 spent time in prison. 

Almost the entire wall is gone, having been chipped away as souvenirs or demolished. A 230-feet-long portion of the wall was reconstructed and includes bits and pieces of the original wall. The “new wall” is mostly stainless steel and contains narrow holes allowing you to look to the other side. It’s located at Bernauer Strasse and Ackerstrasse, not too far from the Bernauer Strasse U-Bahn. A large stretch still stands along Wilhelmstrasse. Behind it is a park on the site of Hitler’s SS command center. 

Berlin has erected several temporary (and free) exhibits about the erection of the wall, life in a divided city, and the fall of the wall. It's just another reason to visit this fantastic city!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A report from Munich: Marienplatz

A visit to Munich should start with a trip to Marienplatz (Mary’s Square) the medieval town square and the pedestrian zone around it. Take the S- or U-Bahn to the Marienplatz stop. The square is named after the Virgin Mary. Her statue has been here since 1638. Dominating the square is the ornate Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) dating back to 1867. You can take the elevator up to the top of its glockenspiel for a good view of the city (€2, Mon-Fri 9am-7pm, Sat & Sun 10am-7pm). Or, you can have a seat at a café and watch the daily “show” at 11:00, noon (and 5pm from May-Oct). 32 life-sized figures reenact historical Bavarian events. You’ll see dancing barrel-makers and Bavarians (they’re in the white and blue) defeating their enemies. A golden bird chirps three times to signal the end of the show.

As you face the New Town Hall, the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) is to your right. Destroyed in WWII, it’s been rebuilt. That’s Ludwig IV front and center.

Behind the New Town Hall at 14 Dienerstrasse is Alois Dallmayr, a deli. Okay, not just some deli, but the former deli to the royals. You can check out the wide selection of food and drink. Open Mon-Sat 9:30am-7pm. Closed Sun.