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Cold War museums

The German Tourist Board recommends three museums for those interested in the Cold War. Although the Web sites are in German, they include hours and contact information for anyone wishing to learn more about the standoff between the Western allies and Soviet bloc.

The Grenzlandmuseum Eichsfeld is in Teistungen, east of Göttingen, at the former Duderstadt-Worbis border crossing between East and West Germany. It includes the main building used by East German Customs and the Stasi Passport Control Unit, which now has an exhibition on the history of the border crossing. A mill tower used as a watchtower offers an exhibition on the impact of the border on the local environment. It’s open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday; the Web site is www.grenzlandmuseum.de.The Deutsch-Deutsches Museum Mödlareuth is northeast of Nuremberg. The town was called "Little Berlin" by Americans because when Germany was divided, the part that was in the state of Thuringen fell in East Germany and the portion in the state of Bavaria became part of West Germany. To keep people on the eastern side, a wall was built in 1966 through the middle of the town. Find more at www.moedlareuth.de.Located northeast of Fulda, Point Alpha was on the front line in the Cold War. It was a U.S. observation point watching what was considered to be the most likely route for an invasion by the East Bloc troops into West Germany. The newly built Haus auf der Grenze ("House on the Border") has an exhibition on the East German border security system. Visitors also can see the U.S. Army observation tower, a memorial and a reconstructed border fortification. Its Web site is www.pointalpha.com.Best betsBELGIUM: Leopold II, Belgium’s king from 1865 to 1909, used the profits from his exploitation of the Congo to commission buildings and urban projects throughout Brussels. Among the projects were the Royal Greenhouses in Laeken, which include six acres of neoclassical rotundas, domes and galleries, all of which resemble a "glass city." Within the see-through walls, according to the greenhouses’ Web site, are giant ferns, fruit-bearing banana trees, orange trees, grottoes, glades, an azalea house, walkways with climbing geraniums and fuchsias and a bird colony. The greenhouses open annually to the public, this year from Friday to May 10. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 1-4 p.m. and 8-10 p.m. Fridays, and 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 8-10 p.m. weekends. Tickets cost 2.50 euros for adults and are free for ages 18 and younger. The entry price includes the Queen Elizabeth workshop and castle stables. More details at www.monarchie.be/en/index.php.

ENGLAND: Don’t be surprised if you see tall walking flowers at Trafalgar Square this Saturday. The Flower Stilt characters are there to help celebrate the birthday of Dutch Queen Beatrix at a little bash the Holland House is holding in the city center. Everything Dutch will be at this free festival: a market, clog maker, bands, Dutch pancakes, waffles and cheese, and a Madurodam kids’ corner.

ITALY: Join Venice’s Su e Zo per I Ponti ("Up and Down the Bridges") Sunday and see the city while getting some exercise. The annual charity walk for all ages has organized two routes, both beginning and ending at Piazza San Marco. The 6½-mile circuit crosses 42 bridges and the four-mile circuit crosses 32 bridges. Opening festivities begin at 9:30 a.m. in Piazza San Marco, with the walks starting at 10. Folk groups parade at 12:30 p.m. in the square. Tickets cost 4 euros for the walk and 6 euros for the walk with a return on the waterbus. Details at www.tgseurogroup.it/suezo/en/suezo_en.htm.

Happy birthday, Rome! On Tuesday, the eternal city will be 2,762, and the Romans are planning a party, the highlights of which will be this weekend. Opening ceremonies start at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Porta San Sebastiano, followed by gladiator re-enactments and activities for children 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. by the Gruppo Storico Romano at Via Appia Antica 18. Other shows include a re-enactment of a Roman marriage and other ancient ceremonies. On Sunday, a historical parade is scheduled for 10:30 a.m., leaving from the Circus Maximus. The afternoon finishes with a battalion of Celtic legionnaires on the Circus Maximus from 2-4 p.m. See the full schedule at www.060608.it/it/content/itemEvent/area/eventi_e_spettacoli/itm/36914 (parts in English).

SWITZERLAND: Zurich’s spring festival, Sechseläuten, takes place this Friday through Monday. Guild balls dominate the program through Saturday and there is a children’s parade Sunday. On Monday, the historical guild parade begins at 3 p.m. and will include more than 7,000 members and 500 horses marching to the Sechseläutenwiese in front of the opera house. There, the Böögg, filled with firecrackers, sits atop a wooden pyre awaiting his fate of being set on fire. See www.sechselaeuten.ch (in German) or www.zuerich.com with parts in English.

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