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Mark the fall of Berlin Wall with tour

FOREIGN BRIEFING

Also: Austria, Nepal, Hong Kong, Aruba

July 12, 2009|Kate Connolly | Associated Press; Reuters

1 Germany

Stop a random handful of Berliners on the street and ask where you might still find a stretch of the Berlin Wall in this, the 20th year since communism collapsed here. A surprising number will not have a clue.

Although much of the wall was razed soon after Nov. 9, 1989, sections that weren't given to museums, sold as souvenirs or ground into underlay for autobahns can be seen -- if you know where to go.

The longest stretch, just under a mile, is at the East Side Gallery, set up by Iranian artist Kani Alavi in the winter of 1989-90. Alavi persuaded more than 100 artists from 21 countries to paint their impressions on the eastern side. Two decades of pollution and weather have taken their toll, prompting Alavi to bring most of the artists back. Between now and October, you can watch them at work along Muhlenstrasse.

The best way to get an overview of where the wall once ran is to take a bicycle tour -- either one that takes in the main sites in the city center or the 99-mile-long Berlin Wall trail, which takes you through the city and out to rural landscapes.

Other anniversary events include theater projects, films and exhibitions.

"Perspectives: 20 Years of a Changing Berlin," an exhibit that moves around the city, documents the challenge of stitching together the city's two halves.

At the German Center for Architecture through Aug. 30, a landscape architect explores the idea of transforming the former no man's land into a ribbon of gardens.

Stick around until October and November to partake in street parties and open-air events, including a giant puppet show by a French theater company. For more information, visit the festival website, www .mauerfall09.de/en/home .html.

-- Kate Connolly

2 Austria

Heavy rains late last month caused extensive flooding in Austria and forced Vienna's renowned Albertina museum to empty its storage facility as a precaution. At least five rivers, including parts of the Danube, overflowed their banks.

-- Associated Press

3 Nepal

Narayanhiti Palace in Katmandu, vacated last year by former King Gyanendra after the monarchy was abolished, has opened as a museum. For about $1.50 each, visitors can troop through the 52-room pink hulk, gawking at hunting trophies, mirrored pillars, gold carpets and more.

-- Associated Press

4 Hong Kong

Walt Disney Co. will spend $452 million to expand its Hong Kong theme park, which opened in 2005, officials said. It reportedly plans to add 30 attractions by 2014, when another Disneyland is expected to open in Shanghai.

-- Reuters

5 Aruba

A cruise ship carrying hundreds of passengers returned June 19 to Aruba after authorities in Grenada and Barbados, citing concerns over a swine flu outbreak, blocked scheduled port calls. At least three crew members aboard the Ocean Dream, operated by Pullmantur, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises, had tested positive for the H1N1 influenza virus.

-- Associated Press

Caution spots

The U.S. State Department recently issued warnings or alerts for these areas:

China, because of quarantine measures aimed at combating swine flu.

Honduras, because of an unstable political and security situation.

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