Travel

Visiting the Pergamon Museum in Berlin

Processional Street

August 11, 2014. It was a partly cloudy day. I arrived at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin around 10 AM. I found a long queue . . . Average waiting time: two hours! I asked a guard about this. He said, ”This line is for holders of priority pass tickets and pre-booked tickets.” I said, “OK, where I can buy this priority pass ticket?” The answer was, “You have to join this long queue, and once you enter into the museum’s main reception, you can buy this type of ticket.” The ticket costs 24 Euros; it is valid for three consecutive days, and you can use it to enter the other museums at “the Museum Island in Berlin” and other museums within the city of Berlin. It’s an excellent deal!

Finally, I went upstairs and found myself within the Processional Way of ancient Babylon. What a feeling I had! The Ishtar Gate faces the Processional Way. I walked back and forth, through the gate and the street, maybe ten times. I said to myself, “Nebuchadnezzar and his army walked through this gate!” Read more…

Greece’s Top Ten Stops

Vathia by Rick Steves

The fortified ghost town of Vathia, on Greece’s Mani Peninsula, was once as wild as our Wild West. (photo: Rick Steves)

I was in Athens, on a rooftop restaurant under a floodlit Acropolis, marveling at how a Greek salad never gets boring. It was the last day of a long trip. I was reviewing, as I always do after completing an itinerary, how effectively our time was spent. We had kept our focus more on seeing historic sights on the mainland rather than luxuriating on Aegean Islands. Given that focus, here are the top ten stops — in itinerary order — that make what I consider the best two weeks Greece has to offer:

Athens, a big ugly city, has obligatory ancient sights (the hilltop temple of the Acropolis, and the ruined forum of the Agora); an extremely touristy old quarter (the Plaka); and fine museums — the best in the country. Its four million people sprawl where no tourist ventures, including new immigrant zones with poor yet thriving communities. The joy of Greece is outside of Athens. See it and scram. Read more…

10 Must-See Ancient Sites in Provence, France

Pont du Gard 
© Carole Raddato
Interactive Map of Ancient Sites in Provence

Interactive Map of Ancient Sites

Provence has inherited a rich legacy from antiquity, boasting some of the best-preserved Roman ruins in Europe. In the second century BCE, the Romans began their conquest of the region and called it “Provincia Romana,” giving us the region’s present name, “Provence.” Thanks to the Pax Romana, which was to last for several centuries, the province, later renamed “Gallia Narbonensis” (after its capital “Narbo Martius” which is present-day Narbonne, France), experienced a period of unprecedented growth. Roads, bridges, and aqueducts were built to eliminate the isolation of the conquered territories, and there are hundreds of ancient sites in Provence. Additionally, replicas of the major monuments of Rome were raised in many urban centers.

Scattered throughout Provence, there are countless antique monuments that have survived the centuries, allowing us to enjoy what was once a vibrant part of the Roman Empire. On a recent trip to Provence, I followed Roman roads, crossed Roman bridges, and marveled at Roman theaters, arenas, and temples. Here is a list of 10 must-see ancient sites in Provence, France. Read more…