More Tour Destinations Below:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Albuquerque "The City of Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta"

Albuquerque is the largest city in the state of New Mexico, United States. It is the county seat of Bernalillo County and is situated in the central part of the state, straddling the Rio Grande. The city population was 521,999 as of July 1, 2008, according to U.S. census estimates, and ranks as the 34th-largest city in the U.S. As of June 2007, the city was the 6th fastest growing in America. With a metropolitan population of 845,913 as of July 1, 2008, Albuquerque is the 59th-largest United States metropolitan area. The Albuquerque MSA population includes the city of Rio Rancho, one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Roughly half of the population of the state of New Mexico lives in the Albuquerque area.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

For nine days straight at the beginning of October, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta dominates the scene in this high-desert city along the Rio Grande, drawing some 700 balloonists and more than 100,000 spectators.

Every morning, hundreds of brightly colored hot-air balloons lift off into the sky just as the first golden rays of sunlight spill over the purple peaks of the Sandia Mountains. Mariachi musicians greet spectators of all ages, who stare up at the sky as they warm their hands on a cup of hot cocoa or savor a breakfast burrito laced with New Mexico’s signature roasted red or green chiles.

What began in 1972 with 13 balloons taking off from a shopping mall parking lot has grown into the world's largest hot-air balloon event—and one of the most widely photographed events on the globe. The festival is held at the custom-designed 365-acre Balloon Fiesta Park, where visitors can browse the booths of food vendors, retailers and artists. In 2000, a record-breaking total of 1,000 balloons went aloft, though since then the number has been capped at 750.

A combination of geography and climate makes Albuquerque the ideal spot for ballooning. The winds in the Rio Grande Valley vary in direction according to altitude, creating a phenomenon called the "Albuquerque box," which allows pilots to more easily return to their starting positions.

During the city-sponsored Balloon Fiesta, spectators can walk freely through the 78-acre launch field to get up-close views of the hot-air balloons and gas balloons. Mass ascensions take place in the mornings and are worth getting up well before dawn to see. At the evening Balloon Glow, the balloonists let their burners roar simultaneously, lighting up the clear night like gigantic lanterns. Another festival favorite is the Special Shapes Rodeo, showcasing balloons shaped like animals, cartoon characters, stagecoaches and other forms. Spectators also can watch flying competitions and fireworks, listen to live music, and book their own balloon rides through a private vendor.

During the rest of the year Balloon Fiesta Park is open for varied recreational uses, including balloon rides, golf and softball. It's also home to the 60,000-square-foot Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, where visitors can learn about the history of hot-air ballooning through hands-on exhibits.

Cliff's Amusement Park

From April to October, this playground is open for the young and the young at heart. It offers more than 23 rides, games of skill, arcade and redemption deals and a variety of great food and gifts. Centrally located in Albuquerque for a convenient playful getaway, this place is sure to put a smile on your face and a little extra spring in your step.

Old Town

Take a walk through history around Albuquerque's original central plaza, the serene village that has been the focal point of community life since 1706. Quiet hidden patios, winding brick paths, gardens and balconies are waiting to be discovered. Wrought iron and adobe bancos (benches) beckon you to rest in the shade and watch people stroll. Unique items from around the world, as well as those distinctively Southwestern, can be found in more than 100 shops and boutiques.

Rio Grande Zoological Park

With everything from rare and exotic animals to comical and common species, the zoo offers award-winning natural habitat displays of white tigers, polar bears, big cats, great apes and just about everything else that came off Noah's Ark. Do not miss to feed the seals and sea lions. Shop for hats, toys, film and gifts in the gift shop, open daily. Snack bars are open and an extensive menu is offered at the Cottonwood Cafe. Catering services are also available for group or corporate events.

Petroglyph National Monument

Take a historical hike among 15,000, ancient rock drawings which date back thousands of years (just remember to bring a camera, some comfortable walking shoes and a hat). The 7,100-acre monument contains some of the nation's largest natural displays of prehistoric artwork. Anasazi nomadic hunters etched various drawings and messages onto the black basalt boulders of the escarpment just west of the Rio Grande. This is an adventurous, educational experience. Visitors can take a ranger-guided tour that can last up to two hours or explore various trails on their own.

Explora Science Center and Children's Museum of Albuquerque

Learn and play at a center that challenges people of all ages and backgrounds to explor learn and critically think. Explore art, science, technology, culture and fun. The museum contains a collection of over 250 interactive science, technology and art exhibits such as an experiment bar and a high-wire bike and robotics lab. Demonstrations, theatre performances and a variety of programs and activities are also offered. The museum store provides a wide array of bilingual and educational items.

Luiz Trail

If you are up to the challenge of a hike through four life zones, that climbs from 7,080 feet to 10,280 in just under eight miles, La Luz Trail offers you an alpine escape from the concrete jungle. On weekends, the trail is crowded with day hikers, joggers and their pets. The trail switchbacks upward among granite spires, ponderosa pines, and quaking aspens. Near the top, the trail forks. The right fork takes you to Sandia Crest; the left fork terminates at the Sandia Peak Tramway . Take along plenty of water.

Albuquerque aquarium

This is an awesome orchestration of natural wonder. Sleek and graceful sharks glide about their sovereignty, a 285,000-gallon climate controlled, simulated natural habitat. Saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico is contained and capsulated in this state of the art facility which brings life from the exotic seas to the high desert. Among the oceanic life exhibited you will see stingrays, sand tigers, sea horses and sea dragons. Albuquerque Aquarium is definitely a must-visit to marvel at the aquatic life!

National Museum of Nuclear Science and History
This place is known as America's official museum of nuclear science and history. A short movie shown every hour features Albert Einstein and the people involved with the development of nuclear science. The world's largest public collection of nuclear weapons is displayed here. Also on display are military air crafts, robotics and nuclear medicine exhibits.

Hinkle Family Fun Center

On the northwest corner of Tramway & Indian School Road, you will discover a whole world of fun and games with something for young and old kids of all ages. Hinkle Family Fun Center is a clean, modern and well-maintained facility featuring bumper boats and bumper cars. The amusement games and kiddy karts are a crowd pleaser and so is the miniature golf course. If you are feeling sporty, try your hand at Laser Tag and have some laughs with that game of agility and coordination. Group discounts and packages are offered to private and company parties and an ice cream parlor sells goodies and beverages.

Roswell UFO Museum

The International UFO Museum and Research Center, Roswell's UFO Museum, light-heartedly examines evidence of UFO visits as well as the pop culture phenomenon surrounding public interest in Extraterrestrials. The 1947 crash that made Roswell infamous is featured, as are other incidents around the world.

Rattlesnake Museum

A fascinating collection of rattlesnakes and assorted other reptiles, thoughtfully assembled with commentary for kids and former kids. There's other cool stuff, like beers cans branded with snake themes, original bottles of snake oil and other serpent-themed memorabilia through the ages.
Mention for a 10% percent discount on any item in the gift shop.

Jemez High Road
The scenic route to Santa Fe through the Jemez Mountains is one of 33 congressionally-authorized scenic byways established in 1998. A half-day or day's motor journey through Native America is filled with culture, history and scenery.

Albuquerque Botanic Garden

Albuquerque's Botanic Gardens is a sprawling expanse of desert plants and medicinal herbs along with colorful species native to the Iberian peninsula, Africa and China. Paths crisscross the gardens, which also feature greenhouses and playful exhibits for children.

Night Life

Opened in summer '02, this high style three-room bar and dance club with Asian fusion decor is the brainchild of entrepreneur/designer Michael Goodwin. It's success has kept patrons waiting behind the velvet ropes for a chance to get in. Buddha statues, Moroccan henna lamps and glass mosaic tiles appoint the sparse interior. Bar stocks premium vodka from every country in the EEC on its bird's eye maple shelves. Dance floor in back washed in high tech sounds and lights, orchestrated from roomy DJ booth above. Open four nights, Wed.-Sat.


Sushi & cocktail bar. Featuring sushi, sashimi, salads, appetizers, cocktails. Excellent sound system entertains with DJ music. Open until 2am nightly except Sunday.


Softly-lit Liquid Lounge in back spins acid jazz, house and hip hop. A pretty crowd dances beneath a stamped tin ceiling amidst retro furniture and lights. Restaurant in front serves pizza fired in a wood burning tiled oven, accompanied by salads, beers, espresso drinks. Next door to Raw sushi bar.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Krabi "Perfect Seaside Vacation and paradise for nature lovers"

Krabi Town

Krabi Town, a small market town that is typically Thai, is the provincial capital. Its convenient location and good transport links mean many people choose to stay here for a night or two before leaving for the islands. The mainland beach areas are also accessible from here on a day trip.

During the day, the town is busy with the morning market. This indoor warehouse is the biggest of its kind in southern Thailand and is a great place to wander round, taking in the sights, sounds and smells - and maybe even sampling some of the tropical fruit or the delicious ready-prepared snacks on offer.

Later on, you can go on a riverside walk, where you can take in many small shops and restaurants, as well as a great view of the town's symbols, the 'dog-ear'-shaped rocks of Khao Kanab Nam . You can rent a longtail boat from the pier to visit the small island on which they stand. The ride takes you along the mangrove-lined Krabi River and you can see the amazing caves inside them, a favourite location for visiting film crews.

Many people also like to explore the backwaters of the Krabi River on a half-day kayaking tour. There's plenty of wildlife to see, and most tours also stop off at the traditional floating fishing villages along the way.

Shopping and eating tend to be the two main activities in Krabi Town , even for the locals! From the department store, to souvenir stands and jewellery shops, there is something for everyone here, at prices well below the touristy beach areas. There are also hundreds of authentic Thai eateries and, in the evening, a popular night market serving classic dishes like phad Thai and grilled chicken, as well as other local delicacies.

Krabi Town is accessible on a day trip from the mainland beach areas with the local bus service from Ao Nang – a 20-minute ride. There's no need to take a guided tour as the centre is quite small, but do take a map with you for guidance.

Ao Nang Beach

While Krabi Town may be the provincial capital, it's Ao Nang that is tourist central in Krabi. With the highest concentration of hotels, resorts, restaurants and shopping, as well as good transport infrastructure inland and offshore, it's the ideal place to base your holiday.

There's a wide choice of accommodation on offer, although prices tend to be comparatively higher than those in the north and Bangkok - but this is true of all the beaches and islands in Thailand.

Despite its rapid development in the last five years, Ao Nang cannot be considered 'spoiled' - although many visitors who have been coming here since the first bamboo bungalows opened 15 years ago feel that the recent opening of a McDonald's was a step too far. But the area is far from becoming like Phuket or Samui: for one, it is much smaller, with no high-rise buildings; and most of the businesses are still locally owned and run, giving the place a laidback charm.

Because everything is concentrated in a small area around the main beach road, Ao Nang is also very convenient to get around. Most places, including the beach, will be within short walking distance from your hotel.

Ao Nang Beach itself is a pretty, palm-lined stretch of sand, dominated by the large cliffs at its southern tip. You can spend the day here swimming and snorkelling, or just relaxing in a beach café; although most people use Ao Nang as a jumping off point for day trips to the islands and inland, coming back in the evenings to eat, shop and enjoy a night out.

Tour agents line the beach road; most organised trips depart from here and operators will be able to pick you up directly from your hotel. If you want to go it alone, longtail boats can be found on the shore, waiting to take you to the islands; and you can also hire a car and driver / guide for the day anywhere along the beach road.

After sunset - which is often a spectacular show seen from the beach - the beachfront comes alive as people return from the islands and set off, freshly showered and dressed up for a night out. Shopping, eating and drinking are what is done best here. There's a large choice of restaurants, particularly for western food - so much so that the beachfront has earned the nickname of 'Little Italy'.

Shops sell everything from souvenirs to fake Rolex watches and DVDs (buyer beware!) and bargaining is a must. Massage shops, spas and beauty parlours stay open late, so you can indulge after your hard day island-hopping. Alternatively, you can sit in a roadside bar and people watch, or sip a pina colada under the stars at a beach bar on the sand.

Railay Beach Krabi

This inaccessibility gives Railay Beach a special 'island feel', which, with the spectacular scenery, draws many visitors every year. It's probably the most popular place in Krabi to spend Christmas and New Year, with the limited number of rooms filling up around six months in advance.

There are three sides to the Railay Beach peninsula, two of which boast spectacular beaches: the west-facing Sunset Beach and Phra Nang Bay . Both could be ranked among the best beaches in Thailand , with their wide expanses of powder white sand sloping down to emerald green water. Accommodation on these two sides is naturally the more expensive; there are cheaper rooms on the mangrove-lined east coast, within around 10-15 minutes' walk from the main beaches.

Of course, there are no cars or roads in Railay, which also gives the place a relaxed feel. Lazy days are spent by the pool or on the beach; more active people can try their hand at rock-climbing, for which Railay is rightly famous. There are many climbing schools that run courses for complete beginners as well as those who want to improve their skills.

Railay Beach is often the gorgeous shot featured on tourist posters of Thailand and there are endless postcard pictures to be taken so don’t forget your camera. At the far end of Phra Nang beach you will find a small cave with a shrine notable for its phallic statues. In fact it is dedicated to a deity known locally as Sri Kunlathewi who, according to legend, was apparently an Indian princess wrecked on this coast in the 3rd century BC and has been called upon by fishermen ever since to provide them with a good catch. The really adventure-minded can climb a rugged path up the side of this impressive karst cliff to discover a hidden lake in its centre.

At night, Railay is fairly quiet, with a few small beach bars, although there is a pocket of lively, rasta-style bars on the east side which stay open late and often have live music and fire shows. The girlie-bar scene is completely absent from here as the majority of visitors are either families or young backpackers.

Phi Phi Island

Known as the 'jewels of the Andaman Sea', the six islands in the Ko Phi Phi group are Phi Phi Don, Phi Phi Leh, Bamboo Island , Yung Island , Bida Nok and Bida Nai. The first is the only one inhabited; the rest can be visited on organised day trips from the mainland, or from Phi Phi Don itself.

Despite the island’s unceasing popularity – thanks in part to its starring role in the blockbuster movie The Beach - a visit should be a top priority on any Krabi holiday. In a province filled with amazing and dramatic scenery, Phi Phi is even more amazing and more dramatic! Picture towering green cliffs, rising up from a glittering turquoise sea, and endless white sandy bays dotted along the shore, and you begin to have some idea of what awaits you here. But even after seeing the photos, the reality never fails to blow people away.

Phi Phi Leh Island , the most beautiful of the six, is shaped like a piece from a jigsaw puzzle, with sheer walls concealing hidden lagoons, and the stunning Maya Bay - which has the Hollywood seal of approval, thanks to the film.

Bamboo and Yung Islands also boast some fantastic beaches; while Bida Nok and Nai are little more than large rocks, used mainly by divers, who say the underwater scenery here is among the most beautiful in Krabi. All around the Phi Phi Islands , marine life is abundant and snorkelling stops will be a feature of any tour. Visibility here is excellent - up to 20 metres - and the variety of coral and fish you will see is amazing.

If you wish to stay in Phi Phi to take full advantage of what the islands have to offer, this is possible in one of the many hotels and resorts on the largest island of Phi Phi Don. But it is highly sought after with limited accomodation, especially since the tsunami destroyed many hotels, and you’re advised to book well in advance. Many prefer the advice of coming for a day trip.

Koh Lanta Island

Lying just south of Krabi is another popular island in the area which is far more low key than Ao Nang and Koh Phi Phi. Koh Lanta is lush and unspoilt and largely escapes the manic atmosphere of tuk tuks, pushy market traders and sleazy go go bars, making it a popular alternative.

There's not really very much to do on Koh Lanta - and that's the whole point. Krabi province’s biggest island is blessed with nine sandy beaches and an atmosphere so laid back that even turning the pages of a book can seem like an effort after a while.

If you’re after total relaxation, Koh Lanta is certainly the place to come. Despite rapid development over the last few years, the island never feels overcrowded and there is accommodation to suit every taste and budget from backpacker bungalows to boutique resorts, as well as a luxury five-star hotel.

Choosing your accommodation here is perhaps more important than elsewhere as you are unlikely to leave the vicinity more than a few times throughout your holiday. All the resorts here are situated directly on the sand - i.e. there is no road between the bungalows and the beach and there are always plenty of bars, restaurants and hammocks nearby.

Transportation to and from Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta is accessible by passenger ferry from Krabi Town , Ao Nang and Koh Phi Phi. There is also a car ferry service from the pier at Hua Hin, some 50km south of Krabi Town . During the low season (May to October) this is the only route into Koh Lanta; the passenger ferries do not run because of the large monsoon waves. Even in the season it’s a good idea to rent a car or motorbike and ride down the coast to the small ferry crossing. This then gives you the option of transport while on the island if you were thinking of choosing your accomodation when you arrive.

The island is not really suitable for a day trip, both in terms of convenience and pleasure. To give yourself a chance to chill out and get that slow, Lanta feeling, it is best to stay for a few days at a time.

Pha Nga Bay Thailand

Some of the Andaman coast’s most exceptional scenery is found in Pha Nga Bay, located between Phuket and the province of Krabi. In fact Pha Nga is a province of its own, most notable for the awesome karst pillars that jut out of the ocean and landscape across this region. So exotic is this location that it was famously featured in the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun and is one of the must see destinations on any tourist’s itinerary in the area.

The best way to see Pha Nga bay is by boat and numerous tours leave Phuket and Krabi on day trips to this incredible natural wonderland that provides a feast for the camera lens. You can also drive to the small settlement of Tha Dan, near the town of Pha Nga, and catch a long tail boat tour to the highlights of the bay.

Several famous sites are located in Pha Nga Bay which are all part of a tour of the area and the best known is probably James Bond Island, which received its name after the filming of the movie took place here in the sixties. There’s a fee for landing on the island (usually included in your tour price) and most people alight so they can have themselves pictured with the famous needle of karst in the background that rises dramatically out of the sea.

Tham Lawt is nearby and also included in the itinerary. It’s a large cave which has now been commandeered by the kayaking companies that have capitalised on the beauty and suitability of the area for paddling. Tours by kayak can also be arranged from numerous travel agents in Phuket and Krabi and it can be a fun day out, paddling through these water caves.

Perhaps the most intriguing sight in Pha Nga bay is the Muslim fishing village of Koh Phan Yee which is entirely stilted and clustered beneath a karst cliff entirely surrounded by water. This village has been here for two centuries, deliberately placed here for defensive purposes and its proximity to the sea. The 200 families living here supposedly descended from just two families that migrated here from Java. As you approach the island the turrets of the island’s mosque add to the impression of this remarkable village.

Pha Nga Bay is part of a 400km square national park that was created in 1981. The geological features are an incredible site, formed by fault movements (the same fault which was responsible for the Tsunami) which pushed massive limestone blocks up into patterns. The result is over 40 islands of towering karst that create this unique and breathtaking scenery. Sheer cliffs, overhangs and caves typify the topography and after millions of years they’re covered in verdant vegetation. There are a number of tidal canals and channels that penetrate the mainland and can be explored by boat, creating a scene of utter confusion and manifold massifs. In the upper reaches you’ll discover some magnificent mangrove which supports a range of aquatic and wild life.

If you do decide to hire a car and find your way to the north side of the bay before catching a longtail boat you have the opportunity to visit the enchanting Sa Nang Manora forest park. Although the bay itself can barely be seen or appreciated from the road, the landscape is still full of karst obelisks. The park itself is free and boasts a fairy-tale like scenery of cascading waterfalls and numerous hiking trails that criss-cross the streams and waterfalls. It’s certainly one of the best-kept secrets in the area.

South of Pha Nga Bay are two inhabited islands, Yao Noi and Yao Yai, which have a number of resorts and bungalows on them and offer a peaceful retreat from Phuket. Boats leave several times a day from Phuket and once here you can find day tours to Pha Nga Bay.

Krabi Coastline

The Krabi coastline is one of the most spectacular in the whole Andaman and tours of Krabi are highly recommended. In fact, the province is best seen from the water, from where you can visit the world famous Phi Phi island group as well as several smaller and equally intriguing islands closer to the shore. Then there is the imposing karst scenery of Pha Nga bay to the north of Krabi.

Tours of Krabi are numerous and can be arranged at any of the tour agencies found in Ao Nang and the resorts of the area. The most typical of these is the Four Island and Five Island full and half day tours of the Krabi coast near Ao Nang. These tours depart at about 9am from the beachfront and take you to the small islands not far off shore. The most spectacular of these is Hong Island, a small national park with a beautiful beach in a sheltered bay. Most of the island is sheer karst rock, but there is a picnic spot and small nature trail away from the beach. Usually you will be left here for a couple of hours to enjoy this lovely beach but you’ll have to share it with quite a few longtail boatloads of people.

Koh Phi Phi Natutal Park

This famous island group comprising two smallish, tree–covered, rocky islands: Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le. Phi Phi Don is the larger of the two, and is world–famous for its coral formations and spectacular beaches. Comfortable but limited accommodation is available along the island’s two scenic bays, Ton Sai and Loh Dalam. Shops at Ton Sai offer diving and snorkelling trips off Phi Phi Don and around the other islands located nearby, such as Koh Phi Phi Le, Koh Mai Phai and Koh Yung. The ferry to Phi Phi from Krabi Town takes 90 minutes and runs twice daily. The Tsunami wiped out most of the development on the island and not much has been rebuilt leaving it in a more natural state.

Shell Cemetery

Situated on the coast between Ao Nang and Krabi Town. This prehistoric site comprises slabs of fossilised shells that are over 75 million years old. The composites of fossils are found in many unusual shapes, all along the stretch of beach here.

Than Bokkharani National Park
Just a half hour’s drive from Ao Nang and you can be in the midst of this other–worldly landscape of steep karst cliffs, waterfalls and pools, and thick tropical forest. The hot springs here originate in the Khao Nor Juji lowland forest and the pools themselves change colour as the day progresses, from deep emerald early in the morning to turquoise as the sun breaks through the forest canopy.

Nopharat Thara Beach
This lonely beach can be reached on foot from the main Ao Nang Beach area by making your way around the small headland. This is long and lovely stretch of tidal beach that is unspoilt by development and a great spot for an early morning run. There are a few resorts here and a ferry pier at the far end, near the small estuary. When the tide is out, you can actually walk out to some of the nearby islands.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Berlin "The capital and Largest City in Germany"

Berlin is the capital city and one of sixteen states of Germany. With a population of 3.4 million within its city limits, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city and the eighth most populous urban area in the European Union. Located in northeastern Germany, it is the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan area, comprising 5 million people from over 190 nations. Geographically embedded in the European Plains Berlin is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. Around one third of the city´s territory is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers and lakes.

Brandenburg Gate

The impressive and symbolic Brandenburg Gate that lay forlorn for so long in the no man's land behind the Berlin Wall, is now once again renovated and accessible, along with the newly reconstructed Pariser Platz that links the gate to the beautiful Unter den Linden Boulevard. The gate is Berlin's only remaining city gate, built of sandstone between 1788 and 1791 with 12 Doric columns according to a design by C.G. Langhans. Six columns support a 36-foot (11m) transverse beam, similar to the propylaeum of the Acropolis in Athens. The massive gate is topped with a stunning statue of the Goddess of Victory facing east towards the city centre (this was added in 1794). The gate is closed to traffic, as is the adjacent Pariser Platz, a gracious square that was once surrounded with beautiful buildings sadly destroyed in the Second World War. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall new buildings have been built, however, to designs closely following those of the originals.

Museum Island

Museum Island is the name of the northern half of the Spreeinsel, an island in the Spree river in the centre of Berlin (the southern half of the island is called Fischerinsel (English: Fishers' Island)).

The island received its name for several internationally renowned museums that now occupy all of the island's northern half (originally a residential area dedicated to "art and science" by King Frederick William IV of Prussia in 1841). Constructed under several Prussian kings, their collections of art and archeology were turned into a public foundation after 1918, the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), which maintains the collections and museums today.

Reichstag building

The Reichstag building in Berlin was constructed to house the Reichstag, parliament of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Reichstag until 1933, when it was severely damaged in a fire supposedly set by Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe, who was later beheaded for the crime. That verdict has been a subject of controversy over the years. The National Socialist Party (NSDAP) used this event as casus belli to begin a purge of opponents of the Nazi Party in Berlin and to ban the Communist Party of Germany. Marinus van der Lubbe was officially pardoned by the German state in January 2008, 75 years after his conviction and execution. In 1967 a Berlin court had symbolically changed the sentence of van der Lubbe to an eight-year prison term and in 1980 the same court had lifted the sentence altogether. In 1981 a West German court overturned the conviction of van der Lubbe on the grounds that he was insane, however campaigners pressed for full state pardon on account of van der Lubbe having been convicted by a Nazi court. The full state pardon of van der Lubbe was made possible by a law passed in Germany in 1998. This exoneration is symbolic and will not lead to compensation for van der Lubbe's heirs.

The building was made safe against the elements and partially refurbished in the 1960s, but no attempt at full restoration was made until after the reunification of Germany in 1990, when it underwent reconstruction led by internationally renowned architect Norman Foster. After its completion in 1999, it became the meeting place of the modern German parliament, the Bundestag.

The Reichstag as a parliament dates back to the Holy Roman Empire and ceased to act as a true parliament in the years of the Nazi regime (1933–1945). In today's usage, the German term Reichstag or Reichstagsgebäude (Reichstag building) r

efers to the building, while the term Bundestag refers to the institution.

Checkpoint Charlie

The infamous border crossing point in the wall dividing West and East Berlin has now become a shrine to the wall's memory with the addition of a museum, Haus am Checkpoint Charlie. For nearly 30 years, between 1961 and 1990, Checkpoint Charlie in the Friedrichstrasse was the only crossing point between East and West Berlin. The soldier's post can be visited, and tourists can be photographed under the border sign.

The East Gallery

The remains of the infamous Berlin Wall have now become the largest open-air art gallery in the world. The longest section of the wall, which has been preserved, stretches from Ostbahnhof station to the Oberbaumbrucke, and has been given over to graffiti artists from around the world. A total of 118 artists from 21 countries have exerted their skills on the 4,318-foot (1,316m) long section of the wall, and this collection has become a Berlin landmark and a tourist attraction. Best known paintings are Dimitri Vrubel's Brotherly Kiss and Gunther Shaefer's Fatherland. The gallery is billed as an international memorial for freedom.

Jewish Museum

Although relatively new the Jewish Museum in Lindenstrasse has already gained an international reputation for its significant architecture and unique exhibitions that bring history alive. The bulk of the museum is housed in a windowless and doorless steel-clad, silver building, designed by Daniel Libeskind, sited alongside the yellow Baroque edifice of the Berlin Museum. Visitors enter the Jewish Museum through the Berlin Museum to explore the exhibition rooms, which are clustered around a main axis void, designed to signify the empty and invisible aspects of Jewish history.

Hamburger Bahnhof

One of the most popular art galleries in Berlin is housed in a train station. The historic Hamburger Bahnhof, built in 1846 at the Tiergarten, was badly damaged during the Second World War, but has been restored and reopened, with some modern elements added to the architecture, as an exhibition venue for an extensive contemporary art collection. The former station now offers 107,639 square feet (10,000 sq metres) of space filled with works by the likes of Andy Warhol, Josephy Beuys and Roy Lichtenstein. The basis of the exhibition is the Marx private collection, but there are changing exhibitions and good examples of the Italian Transavanguardia and minimalist art on show too.

Potsdamer Platz

This vibrant square is the heart and soul of the 'New Berlin', which has emerged since the fall of the wall in 1989. The original square was once one of the busiest junctions in Europe with a major train station sited on it. However after damage during the Second World War and being cut through by the divisive wall, it became a decayed wasteland. Since the fall of the wall, however, a building boom has been taking place around the Potsdamer Platz, which now boasts an exciting mix of restaurants, shopping centres, hotels, a casino, theatres and cinemas that draws both Berliners and tourists seeking good food and recreation. Focus of the square is the 22-storey Debis Haus, designed by Renzo Piano, featuring an atrium with cathedral-like dimensions, and its neighbouring Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, a shopping mall with an Imax cinema. The Sony Centre is the most recent addition, consisting of seven buildings around a light-flooded arena, which also houses Berlin’s popular Film Museum. The Kollhoff building features a panorama platform, reached by Europe’s fastest express elevator, which offers views of the city.

Legoland Discovery Center

The newly opened LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is the first indoor LEGOLAND in the world and provides an interactive journey through a land of colour, creativity, learning and play. There is a fun factory, where real LEGO bricks are made, a 4-D cinema show, opportunities for visitors to make their own creations, Miniland Berlin, a themed ride and much more all under one roof.

The Story Of Berlin

One of Berlin's most popular attractions, the unusual exhibition recounts the history of the German capital city from its foundation until the fall of the Wall. The Story of Berlin is divided into 25 themed rooms and pays attention to the feelings, thoughts and living conditions of common Berliners. One of its main attractions is the nuclear bunker that was built during the Cold War in the 1970s. Guided tours are available every hour.


Said to be one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, the Gendarmenmarkt is certainly one of Berlin's most impressive squares that was created as a market place in the 17th century. During World War II most of the buildings were destroyed, but have since been returned to their former glory. The square is dominated by the beautiful Konzerthaus (concert house), which is home to the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, as well as the twin churches of Deutscher Dom and Franzosischer Dom, the identical German and French Cathedrals. Gendarmenmarkt is also host to Berlin's best Christmas market and various concerts. Surrounding the plaza are a number of cafes and restaurants.

Charlottenburg Palace

Schloss Charlottenburg is the largest palace in Berlin, an 18th-century baroque structure that was originally constructed as the summer home for Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Elector Frederick III who became the first Prussian king. The splendid interiors are festooned with art masterpieces, while the surrounding gardens contain a mausoleum, pavilion and the Belvedere, which houses the porcelain museum.

Berliner Dom

The Berlin Cathedral was built between 1895 and 1905 and is a magnificent basilica that stands on the site of several earlier structures. Inside, the crypt contains over 80 sarcophagi of Prussian royals, while other areas of interest are the pulpit, the organ, and the stained glass windows. Visitors can climb the dome, which is decorated with intricate mosaics.

Pergamon Museum

This huge museum has three main departments, the Antiquity Collection, Islamic Art Museum and the Middle East Museum that house parts of reconstructed monumental buildings transported from original excavation sites from ancient lands. The Antiquity Collection contains the Pergamon Altar from the second century BC, as well as the Market Gate of Miletus from Roman antiquity. The main attraction in the Islamic Art Museum is the Mshatta façade originating from a Jordanian desert palace, while the Middle East Museum boasts the Ishtar Gare and the Procession Way of Babylon, as well as the throne room façade of Nebuchadnezzar II.


Berlin may not be known as a shopper's paradise, but don't be fooled; it can give even the most seasoned of power-shoppers a run for their money. There are plenty of opportunities for shopping sprees, ranging from the overly expensive to the humble wares of the city's flea markets, antique markets, cheap bargain stores and everything in between.

Luxury designer boutiques can be found lining the streets at the west end of Kurfürstendamm and in Friedrichstrasse. All the different shopping precincts have their own distinctive style and the best boutiques are often tucked away in backstreets or quiet courtyards.

The main shopping districts are the Kurfürstendamm, Breitscheidplatz and for some bargains, a quick stroll in the Budapestststrasse and Tauenzienstrasse could prove worthwhile. One of the trendiest shopping streets is the Schönhauser Allee with countless independent shops dotted along its thoroughfare offering the latest fashion and young independent designer labels which can be snatched up for a song.

A sales tax (VAT) of 16% is levied on most goods and services in Germany. Most major stores are open from 9.30am to 8pm daily and between 9am and 4pm on Saturdays. All stores are closed on Sundays, except for small stores in the main train stations.


It is impossible to walk through Berlin without finding a pub, a bar, a theatre, a cinema or a disco, where people meet to spend their leisure time and evenings. Life is buzzing in every single quarter of this fantastic capital. Because of the variety of spots it is a Sisyphean task to name them all. We decided to divide our nightlife section by districts, and even then it is a hard piece of work to give you quite a good overview.

Summarized western Berlin has four focal points for pubs and bars: Savignyplatz in Charlottenburg is for conspicuous goodtimers, Kreuzberg drinkers normally include political activists and punks, the area around Nollendorfplatz (northwestern part of Schöneberg) and Winterfeldtplatz is the territory of sped-out all-nighters and the pushing-on-forty crew. Central Schoneberg bars are on the whole more mixed and more relaxed.

In the eastern part of the city there is also a number of real cosy and even exciting new cafes and bars. Check out both Berlin Mitte and Friedrichshain Section. In Prenzlauer Berg quarter you will find a lot of nice pubs in and around Knaackstrasse. And alst but not least the area around Oranienburger Strasse, where you also will find the "Tacheless" is paved with nice cafes and pubs.

To find out what's on when, buy one of the listings magazines tip, Zitty or Prinz. These magazines are written in German but I found an English language magazine published in Berlin (called "EXBERLINER") that has all the listings for cinema, gigs, concerts etc. Also great articles on what's happening locally and current topics.

Karneval der Kulturen

In 2009, this festival had close to 1.5 million attendees. The Carnival of Cultures started in 1996 to pay homage to the large amount of internationals in Berlin. You will find most any type of art here, from music to paintings. The idea behind the Carnival is to welcome every culture with open arms and promote the importance of diversity.


This is not a club for just anyone. The "Kitty" was opened by a pornography film maker from Austria in 1994. To be blunt, this club has been both praised and shunned, as it allows sexual intercourse (hetero- and homosexual) in the establishment. With a very strict dress code, if you fit the criteria and can handle the scene, you are definitely going to get an other-worldy feeling from this popular techno night club.

Schloss Bellevue

Built in 1786 for the prince of Prussia, the Schloss Bellevue is a château that has housed the German president since 1994. In the past, it has served as a summer home, a museum, a primary home, and a guest house. It is located in the city center, in northern Tiergarten Park next to the beautiful Spree River.

Berlin has developed a highly complex transportation infrastructure providing very diverse modes of urban mobility. 979 bridges cross 197 kilometers of innercity waterways, 5,334 kilometers (3,314 mi) of roads run through Berlin, of which 73 kilometers (45 mi) are motorways. In 2006, 1.416 million motor vehicles, were registered in the city. With 358 cars per 1000 inhabitants in 2008 (570/1000 in Germany), Berlin as a German state and as a major European city has one of the lowest numbers of cars per capita.

Long-distance rail lines connect Berlin with all of the major cities of Germany and with many cities in neighboring European countries. Regional rail lines provide access to the surrounding regions of Brandenburg and to the Baltic Sea. The Berlin Hauptbahnhof is the largest crossing station in Europe. Deutsche Bahn runs trains to regional destinations like Nuremberg, Hamburg, Freiburg and more. It also runs the Airport express, as well as trains to international destinations like Moscow, Vienna, and Salzburg.

Berlin is known for its highly developed bike lane system. 710 bicycles per 1000 inhabitants are estimated. Around 500,000 daily riders accounting for 13% of total traffic in 2008. The Senate of Berlin aims to increase the number to 15% of city traffic by the year 2010. Riders have access to 620 km of bike paths including approx. 150 km mandatory bicycle paths, 190 km off-road bicycle routes, 60 km of bike lanes on the roads, 70 km of shared bus lanes which are also open to bicyclists, 100 km of combined pedestrian/bike paths and 50 km of marked bike lanes on the sidewalks. The Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe and the Deutsche Bahn manage several dense urban public transport systems.

Berlin has two commercial airports. Tegel International Airport (TXL), the busier, and Schönefeld International Airport (SXF) handled more than 21 million passengers in 2008. Together they serve 155 destinations in 48 countries (summer 2009). Tegel lies within the city limits, whereas Schönefeld handles mainly low-cost-aviation and is situated just outside Berlin's south-eastern border in the state of Brandenburg.

Berlin's airport authority aims to transfer all of Berlin's air traffic in November 2011 to a newly built airport at Schönefeld, to be renamed Berlin Brandenburg International Airport. City authorities aim to establish a European aviation hub with a gateway to Asia.