Berlin has an incredible history just within the 20th century. This makes it an appealing and fascinating destination for people from all over the world. It’s a history that feels accessible to us since only 90 years ago, Adolph Hitler was making his move in Berlin with the rise of the Nazi Party and the Third Reich. The subsequent war ended with a crushing invasion of Berlin by 1.5 million Soviet troops and Hitler’s suicide in his bunker here. Then the city, and all of Germany was divided up by the victorious allies, kicking off the Cold War with the Soviets eventually building a wall that would divide Berlin. When the wall came down in 1989, Germany was reunified and there was a huge rush of development in the former East Berlin.
While visiting the city of Brussels, we took a day tour to the city of Bruges, located west of Brussels near the coast of the North Sea. Bruges is considered to be one of the best preserved medieval towns in the world and due to its canals, is referred to as the “Venice of the North.” Bruges is in the Flanders section of Belgium where Dutch is the primary language.
Frankfurt is unlike any other Germany city. It is a finance and business hub, home to one of the world’s largest stock exchanges as well as the new headquarters for the European Central Bank. Its airport is the third largest in Europe. Due to its soaring skyline and the Main River that runs through it, Frankfurt refers to itself as “Main-hatten”.
Mentioned in historical documents as far back as 794 AD, Frankfurt was an important center for the Holy Roman Empire. With the election of Frederick I in 1152, the city became the customary site of the selection of Emperors and German Kings. A stock exchange began operating in Frankfurt in 1585.
The city of Madrid has survived centuries of religious and political turmoil to emerge as a world class destination with beautiful architecture and art. The Inquisition, Communist rule, a civil war and more recently, a deadly terrorist bombing in 2004, are all part of Madrid’s past. Today, world class museums, beautiful parks and some of Europe’s most attractive plazas form a very appealing experience. Clearly the world has noticed. We were shocked by the volume of tourists pouring through the streets.