From Andrew Harper
Even in an age of globalization, the great cities of Europe are more than mere tourist destinations; they are integral to American history and culture. Many of us fall hopelessly in love with the street market on the Rue de Buci, Sunday strolls through the Jardins des Luxembourg and the incomparable view upstream from the Pont des Arts. But for others, it is the shimmer on the surface of the Venetian lagoon, or the wisteria-draped townhouses of London’s Georgian squares that generate the same visceral attraction.
But despite the ancient stones, time on the old continent moves at the same restless pace as elsewhere. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, Europe has changed dramatically. Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic States are now part of the European Union, the boundaries of which stretch from Portugal to the western edge of Russia. For the American traveler, this has brought a wealth of new opportunities. There are now luxury hotels in places as far apart as Tallinn and Dubrovnik. And Berlin itself, the Reichstag now crowned by Norman Foster’s extraordinary glass dome, has recovered its place as one of the continent’s most important and culturally vibrant cities.