My fiance and I are planning to attend Octoberfest.We want to travel all over Germany(Berlin),Poland(Auschwitz),Netherlands(Ammsterdam).See the sites of hollacaust,museums,Berlin Wall.We'd like to get tattoos there,something to remind us of our trip to our heritage.
See + Do
Van Gogh Museum, Netherlands
Amsterdam 1071 CX, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 570 5200
A 1973 building by Gerrit Rietveld along with a 1999 addition (locally known as "the mussel") by Kisho Kurokawa is the world's premier venue for works by tragically talented Van Gogh. In addition to some 200 paintings (including The Potato Eaters, The Yellow House in Arles, and Wheatfield with Crows), 500 drawings, and 700 letters from Vincent, there are works by his French post-Impressionist contemporaries, including Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec, and some Monets thrown in for good measure.
Open daily 10 am to 6 pm (Fridays open till 10 pm).
See + Do
Amsterdam 1071 CJ, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 674 7000
The vast neoclassical brick castle of the Rijksmuseum—is set in gardens leading to Museumplein and onward to the Van Gogh Museum and the Concertgebouw. The museum's incredible holdings include Rembrandts, Vermeers, and delftware. Although the displays rotate, Rembrandt's most famous work, The Nightwatch, is always on view.
Open daily 9 am to 6 pm (Fridays open till 10 pm).
See + Do
Red Light District, Netherlands
You needn't have any interest in the red lights and what's beneath them to enjoy a stroll here. The interplay of tree, canal, brickwork, and gable here may put you under a spell even without the influence of Amsterdam's other most famous pleasure. (Remember, despite all the freedoms here there is an etiquette to visiting: Don't even think about taking a picture). The Museum Amstelkring illuminates an era when Amsterdam wasn't so tolerant and Catholics were forced to worship in clandestine churches (40 Oudezijds Voorburgwal; 31-20-624-6604; www.museumamstelkring.nl), while the 14th-century Gothic Oude Kerk (Old Church—the city's oldest) is a frequent venue for special exhibitions (Oudekerksplein; 31-20-625-8284; www.oudekerk.nl). To learn about the ins and outs of the district's raison d'être, visit the Prostitution Information Center (3 Enge Kerksteeg; 31-20-420-7328; www.pic-amsterdam.com), established and run by former working girls.
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First things first: Marijuana is not fully legal in the Netherlands, although possession and consumption of small amounts are tolerated—a prime example of the Dutch personality trait called gedoogbeleid, or turning a blind eye. Amsterdammers are also realists, who recognize that—as with prostitution, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage—people are going to smoke pot anyway, so they might as well do it safely. Coffeeshops (as marijuana cafés are called) are permitted to sell up to five grams of the stuff to each customer. There are also "smart drugs" shops, which dispense magic mushrooms and the like. There are as many types of coffeeshops as there are visitors to Amsterdam, from fancy and literate to down and dirty. One classic is Dampkring—you saw it in Ocean's Twelve—near the University of Amsterdam. The painted and sculpted central column, like a giant toadstool, is hallucinatory even if you don’t smoke (29 Handboogstraat; 31-20-638-0705; www.dedampkring.nl). Don't want to toke up with the college kids? Siberië looks out on a handsome canal in central Amsterdam and could pass for an East Village café were it not for its mind-altering wares. Show up on the right night and you might find DJs spinning or get your horoscope read (11 Brouwersgracht; 31-20-623-5909; www.siberie.net). If it's all about the pot, go to tiny, straightforward Grey Area, a frequent winner of the Cannabis Cup (Oude Leliestraat; 31-20-420-4301; www.greyarea.nl). When buying any variety of marijuana, make sure that you ask its properties and be prepared for the effect—if the menu doesn't give you a solid description, the staff will be happy to. And remember, a coffeeshop is emphatically not a coffee house (koffiehuis in Dutch). The latter serves a concoction called coffee; don't even think about lighting up in one.
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Anne Frank House, Netherlands
Amsterdam 1016 GV, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 556 7105
Even if you've heard the story of Anne Frank time and again, a visit to the house is a must. You'll be surprised at how emotional a walk through the secret annex can be, imagining how the Franks and their friends lived their lives and catching a glimpse of the diary. The Anne Frank House is the city's most popular attraction, with more than 950,000 visitors annually. To avoid crowds, visit first thing in the morning or inquire about advance tickets purchased off-site. To learn more about the 400-year-long story of the Jews in Amsterdam, head across Amsterdam Centrum to the Jewish Historical Museum. The building is an act of reclamation in itself; its glass-and-steel structure combines four restored synagogues in the heart of Amsterdam's original Jewish quarter (1 Nieuwe Amstelstraat; 31-20-531-0310; www.jhm.nl).
Open daily 9 am to 7 pm.
Hotel Pension Funk, Germany
Tel: 49 30 882 7193
Two decades before Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich made androgyny famous, Danish silent-film star Asta Nielson paved the way. This pension, in her former apartment on Fasanenstrasse, one of western Berlin's most posh addresses, is good value, especially given the location. For a ridiculously affordable rate, hotel guests can count Gucci and Bulgari shops among their stylish neighbors. What's more, the Literature House, which has a lovely café in the winter garden, is just across the street. The pension is done up in the spirit of the Roaring Twentiesas it might have been during Nielson's timeand many of the original Art Nouveau and Jugendstil fixtures have been maintained. At these prices, though, it's only to be expected that the rooms tend toward shabby chic, and not all have private bathrooms. All the same, the Funk oozes atmosphere and charm.
Restaurant Maxwell, Germany
Berlin 10115, Germany
Tel: 49 30 280 7121
Occupying a neo-Gothic 1878 brick building that once housed a brewery, this popular spot with an eclectic menu plays the art card in a major way—which is why the people-watching's just as good as the eating. The menu is traditional, running to dishes like smoked duck breast with ratatouille or potato soup as starters, followed by main courses like roast wild boar with prunes, veal goulash with noodles, or perch with sauerkraut and puréed potatoes. Finish up with the mocha parfait with dates, and choose one of the many excellent German wines from the fairly priced list.
Lutter & Wegner, Germany
Berlin 10117, Germany
Tel: 49 30 202 9540
There's a whiff of 19th-century Mitteleuropean splendor at this handsome and historic restaurant on Gendarmenmarkt. In business since 1811, Lutter & Wegner is one of Berlin's most venerable wine merchants and occupies a spacious, beautifully wood-paneled room. The menu offers appetizing French, German, and Austrian dishes, but the regulars, many of whom are politicians, all go for impeccably cooked Viennese dishes like Wiener Schnitzel or lamb with a curd-cheese crust. Hankering for something light? The steak tartare is delicious. Or German? The Sauerbraten (marinated roast beef) is superb. And if the prices in the restaurant scare you off, try the bistro, which does great salads and cold-cut and cheese plates. There are branches at 52-53 Oranienburger Strasse and in the Sony Center on Potsdamer Platz.
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Prenzlauer Berg, Germany
After 1989, Berlin's bohemians came to settle in this former East German working-class neighborhood of gray, unrenovated tenements, many of them with coal ovens instead of central heat. Moving into illegal squats and opening up secret unlicensed bars and clubs, so-called "Geheimtips" (secret tips), they helped define the "Wild East" days of Berlin in the 1990s. More recently, significant gentrification has taken its toll: The facades have been given a pastel-hued makeover, the interiors have been brought up to code, and now they rent for high sums. Still, "Prenzl Berg," as it's affectionately known, remains indisputably hip. The wide tree-lined boulevards, particularly those around Kollwitzplatz, Helmholzplatz, and Kastanienalle, are packed with cafes, restaurants, bars, and shops that attract the nouveau bourgeois in droves.
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At the height of Cold War tensions, the name of this neighborhood, Mitte (Middle), seemed anachronistic. Once the heart of prewar Berlin, Mitte, subsumed into East Germany, was pressed up against the Wall and marred by concrete and barbed wire. The Prussian-era Baroque and classical buildings lining the once fashionable Unter den Linden, an aristocratic boulevard leading to the iconic Brandenburg Gate, fell into disrepair, and Socialist Realist monstrosities like Alexanderplatz and the now dismantled Palace of the Republic, the Communist government's headquarters, cast a long shadow. Today, Mitte is once again Berlin's cultural and commercial heart, and it's the best place to take in the city's (sometimes uneasy) mix of old and new. The buildings along Unter den Linden have been fully restored; galleries and independent boutiques have moved into the Scheunenviertel, the turn-of-the-century Jewish quarter that's now a creative enclave; and international labels (Gucci, Escada) have established themselves down the street from Checkpoint Charlie on Friedrichstrasse, now one of Berlin's most stylish shopping destinations.
The Museumsinsel, or Museum Island, is a massive complex of five world-class museums in Mitte whose imposing neoclassical buildings—most of them designed by the great Prussian architects Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Friedrich August Stüler—are gradually undergoing refurbishment. With the reopening of the Neues Museum in October 2009, all five museums are once again open to visitors. The Neues Museum includes works from ancient Egypt, such as the famous bust of Nefertiti, as well as pre- and early-history collections. Classical antiquities, including an impressive Etruscan collection, can be found in the Altes Museum; Byzantine art, sculptures, and one of the world's largest numismatic collections are housed in the Bode-Museum. The Alte Nationalgalerie contains work by 19th-century artists such as Caspar David Friedrich, Adolph Menzel, and the French Impressionists. But the island's biggest spectacle is the Pergamonmuseum, whose trove of important ancient architecture includes the Hellenistic Pergamon Altar and the bright blue Ishtar Gate from Babylon.
Each of the five museums maintains separate opening hours and admission fees. More information is available on the Web site of the Berlin State Museums or by calling 49-30-266-42-4242. The master plan for reconstructing the Museumsinsel calls for its completion in 2015.
Altes Museum, Bode-Museum, and Pergamonmuseum open Fridays through Wednesdays 10 am to 6 pm, Thursdays 10 am to 10 pm.
Alte Nationalgalerie open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays through Sundays 10 am to 6 pm, Thursdays 10 am to 10 pm.
Neues Museum open Sundays through Wednesdays 10 am to 6 pm, Thursdays through Saturdays 10 am to 8 pm.
See + Do
Government Quarter/Tiergarten, Germany
Tiergarten, Berlin's version of Central Park, is also the name of the neighborhood that includes the Regierungsquartier (Government Quarter). Per square mile, Tiergarten has more powerhouse architecture than anywhere else in Berlin, and that's really saying something. The highlight is Sir Norman Foster's revamped Reichstag, reunified Germany's parliament building, which was completed in 1999. Its distinctive glass dome has become one of Berlin's most iconic structures and is worth a visit for both the close-up view of history (you can still spot Soviet-era graffiti on the roof) and the panoramic views of Berlin. Entrance lines are long, but you can skip them by making a reservation for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the rooftop restaurant, Käfer (49-30-2262-990).
From the Reichstag, walk south along Ebertstrasse—look for the line of cobblestones indicating where the Berlin Wall once stood—past the Brandenburg Gate, where Ronald Reagan gave his famous "Tear down this wall" speech in 1987. One block further, on the southern side of the U.S. Embassy, is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and opened in 2005. The 4.7-acre, open-air site consists of large concrete slabs of varying heights arranged in a grid. Walking between the pillars, with the ground sloping up and down, evokes a chilling—and unforgettable—sense of disorientation and isolation. Eisenman's memorial has been criticized by some for referring only to Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Across the street is a smaller memorial to gays and lesbians murdered by the Nazis, which opened in 2008.
South of the Tiergarten, Potsdamer Platz, for a time Europe's largest construction site, has risen up in a barren wasteland once traversed by the Wall. Despite (or because of) buildings designed by Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, Helmut Jahn, and Hans Kollhoff, the completed development has received mixed reviews. Potsdamer Platz is marked on its western side by the State Library, whose airy, multileveled interior featured prominently in Wim Wenders's Wings of Desire, as well as Hans Scharoun's Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall, an early-1960s extravaganza designed around the acoustic requirements of the orchestra, resulting in a tentlike structure clad in a studded golden skin. On the other hand, it doesn't get any more minimal than Mies van der Rohe's Neue Nationalgalerie, a slab of black steel atop slender black columns, framing a glassed-in, light-flooded display space that features rotating art exhibitions.
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Eastern Berlin, Germany
Remnants of the Berlin Wall are few and far between these days, and most locals are happy about that. Nostalgia for the former German Democratic Republic, dubbed "Ostalgie," did linger for several years in the 1990s, and whether people considered it amusing or pathetic, the fact that films like Good Bye Lenin! can now freely comment on it is a sure sign it's over. Some interest remains in collecting iconic East German paraphernalia such as Communist logos, and books like Anna Funder's Stasiland (Granta) have been best-sellers. But however innocent these souvenirs might seem, they'll remind many here of the dark side of the not-so-long-ago Communist police state. Think twice before parading around East Berlin wearing an East German border patrol hat.
One of the final remnants of the Communist state, the Palast der Republik (Schlossplatz), is now an enormous hole in the ground. The destruction of the Palast, the parliamentary chamber of the East German government, was the subject of an odd pitched battle between conservationists and traditionalists, who pointed out that the former Hohenzollern Castle had been dynamited to make room for the Palast. Plans are now afoot to rebuild the Royal Palace and use it as a museum and library.
From Schlossplatz, walk east toward Alexanderplatz, which was rebuilt in a Communist style in the 1960s by Erich Honecker, who hoped the development would symbolize the modernity of the socialist state. In the center of the square, ascend the almost 1,200-foot-high Fernsehturm, or Television Tower, and linger in the revolving restaurant or on the observation deck for panoramic views. Next, go underground: In the Alexanderplatz U-Bahn station, there's M. Koos-Ostprodukte, a shop that stocks kitschy Communist-era products, including cosmetics, wines, and candy (49-30-242-5791).
Heading east away from Alexanderplatz, you'll come to Karl-Marx-Allee. The Communists' answer to the Champs-Élysées, it's a wide, impressive boulevard built entirely in the Stalinist neoclassical style and lined with apartment buildings. In the Café Sibylle, named after East Germany's popular women's magazine, there's an exhibition about the history of the avenue, which was known as Stalinallee until 1961 (72 Karl-Marx-Allee; 49-30-2935-2203). Alternatively, you can peruse the stacks of the Karl Marx Buchhandlung for copies of the Communist Manifesto and more (78 Karl-Marx-Allee; 49-30-293-3370). Turn right at the Frankfurter Tor and walk down Warschauer Strasse until you get to the Spree River. Then turn right onto Mühlenstrasse, where you will find the East Side Gallery, one of the largest remaining segments of the Berlin Wall and now a graffiti-art open-air museum of sorts. Further east, the former headquarters of the Stasi, the East German secret police, has been turned into a museum called the Forschungs-und Gedenkstätte Normannenstrasse (103 Ruschestrasse; 49-30-553-6854; www.stasimuseum.de).
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When the Wall went up, Charlottenburg became the commercial heart of West Berlin, as it remains today. The Lehrter Bahnhof is the point of entry for many first-time visitors to Berlin. Behind it is the Helmut Newton Stiftung, a museum exhibiting the body of work donated to the city by native son and photographer Helmut Newton (2 Jebensstrasse; 49-30-3186-4856; www.helmut-newton-stiftung.org). Much of the area—especially along the main shopping drag, the Kurfürstendamm —was heavily damaged during WWII and rather unimaginatively rebuilt in the 1950s, and is now unabashedly commercial. The KaDeWe department store (the largest department store in continental Europe) remains a monument to consumer capitalism. Further west toward Savignyplatz, where there's a sophisticated enclave of cafés and bars, the situation improves, giving a glimpse of prewar Berlin. Just southeast of the Zoo on Breitscheidplatz, the burnt-out remains of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche, which was bombed during the war and left unreconstructed as a monument, is a reminder of the ill fate of a totalitarian state.
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Art Scene, Germany
Berlin remains a place where artists can rent studios and gallery spaces can be opened for a reasonable sum. But Mitte no longer has the lock on the gallery scene, a victim of its own success and the accompanying high rents. Though many powerhouse spaces still call Auguststrasse and Linienstrasse home, others have closed, and many have now moved to the former Western neighborhoods of Wedding and Tiergarten. In Mitte, strong players still include Contemporary Fine Arts, Eigen + Art, and Barbara Weiss. And try the Sammlung Boros in western Mitte, near the government quarter—a private collection housed in a huge WWII concrete bunker (guided tours are €10/$12). Branching out, the multi-culti, heavily Turkish neighborhood of Wedding has Galerie Max Hetzler, which deals in international superstars like Jeff Koons. Just south of the Neue Nationalgalerie on Potsdamer Strasse are former Mitte stars Klosterfelde, Matthias Arndt, and Esther Schipper. And in the newly hip Neukölln neighborhood in the south of the city, Berlin's most personality-driven gallery sits in a former industrial space— Peres Projects has had shows by James Franco and Terence Koh, and keeps the rest of Berlin guessing.—Updated by Ralph Martin