Since German reunification in 1990, Berlin has changed beyond all recognition to become one of the most dynamic and exciting cities in the world. Only a few remnants of the infamous Wall remain. The Reichstag acquired its majestic glass dome in 1999; the Neues Museum, destroyed in World War II, reopened in 2009 (and once more displays the exquisite bust of Nefertiti); and the Stadtschloss, the seat of the Prussian kings demolished by the East German authorities in 1950, is today being rebuilt. On my recent trip, I discovered that Berlin’s energy and confidence are also reflected in a notably vibrant and imaginative restaurant scene. Although the Hotel Adlon Kempinski, which opened in 1907 overlooking the Brandenburg Gate, remains my favorite grand hotel, I enjoyed stays at a number of new properties, especially the 78-room Das Stue, which opened in 2013 in the heart of former West Berlin.
During the course of a two-week driving itinerary, I explored pastoral Mecklenburg, as well as parts of Saxony and the valley of the Elbe River. There, I was based in the miraculously restored baroque city of Dresden, which nowadays shows few signs of the devastation inflicted by Allied air raids in February 1945. Although my longtime recommendation, the Taschenbergpalais Kempinski, is still my preferred place to stay, I was also very comfortable at the Bülow Palais, which is notable for its superb Michelin-starred restaurant, Caroussel.
In this issue, you will also find my guide to the upcoming 2015-’16 cruise season. Currently, the cruise world is in a state of hyperactivity, with numerous new ships offering a host of exceptionally innovative itineraries. With the end of summer in sight, I find that my thoughts invariably turn to lounging on a deck rail being buffeted by a tropical breeze as the ocean slides smoothly below.