Friday, May 31, 2013

Lower Fares on Air Canada

For today only, up to 8 p.m. EDT, you can take advantage of Air Canada's WebSaver deals for travel within Canada. Check the airline's Website, ( or if you use Twitter (,) go to @ACWebSaver. Fares are still not low, but lower than usual and include all taxes and service charges.

If you are one of the people who earn a little extra cash by renting out your place or part of it through Websites like, you should be aware that authorities in some jurisdictions are trying to spoil the party. In Montreal and New York City, you may have trouble if you frequently accommodate travellers without the appropriate licenses and, natch, without paying tax on the income.

There is always someone coming along to try to quash inventive entrepreneurs.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Savings on Tours, Cruises

Tours and cruises themselves often are less expensive than trying to cover the same territory on your own. The power of large numbers means that tour operators can secure hotel rooms, entrance fees and sometimes restaurant meals for quite a lot less than you would pay. Then if you can score a discount price on the tour itself, savings can really add up.
Touring for Less ( is a Website that provides lower prices on a number of major tour companies' offerings, as well as those of two river curise operators, Uniworld and Avalon. The Website does not seem to provide the actual amount of the discount (at least, not for any of the tours I looked at.) Tour companies range from budget (G Adventures) to luxury (Avalon and Uniworld.)
To get an actual quote, you will probably need to contact the site either by email, live chat or telephone--the phone number is 888-751-4440.
I know from experience that it can be dangerous to call these tour providers. They usually employ very good sales people, and it is easy to be talked into taking a tour or cruise you were just curious about. That happened to me when I called to inquire about a transAtlantic crossing on the Queen Elizabeth II in 2001. The saleswoman was so charming and persuasive that I signed up on the spot. And she was right, I did enjoy the cruise, especially since it docked in New York on September 4, 2001 and I got my last look at the World Trade Center from the water. A week later, as we all know, the Trade Center was gone.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Fast Train to Tashkent

On a recent episode of Globe Trekker (,) one of my favourite shows, I was surprised to learn that you can now take a fast train between Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan, and Samarkand, an ancient Silk Road city of more interest to tourists. Best of all, the train costs only about $30 for a trip of about two and a half hours.

In fact, you can travel through much of Uzbekistan and other parts of Central Asia by train. It is also possible to travel from Moscow to Tashkent by rail, but the trip takes 65 hours and passes through Khazakstan, so you need a transit visa for that country. Another interesting route might be Novosibirsk to Almaty, Kazakhstan. Almaty is the former capital of Kazakhstan and reported to lie in a beautiful setting surrounded by mountains.

The Website has a lot of interesting information about travelling through the Stans by train. It is good to know that independent travel in this part of the world is possible (though not easy.) You don't need to take an expensive tour unless you want to. With some time and patience and a lot of advance planning, it should be possible to see a lot on your own and have the adventure of meeting locals, not just other tourists and tour guides.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sarajevo Remembered

We recently endured a water crisis here in Montreal, where tap water was off limits for drinking for a little under two days. It reminded me of pictures I had seen of Sarajevo during the 1990s Balkan War, when people had to dodge bullets to reach the only water source in a certain area of town. Some of them didn’t make it.

Many people claimed to be surprised at the savagery of that war. I wasn’t totally surprised. While I have never visited Sarajevo, I was in Croatia and Serbia in 1989 for a meeting of the Society of American Travel Writers. Both Croatia and Serbia, historical enemies, were then part of Yugoslavia, as was Bosnia, whose capital is Sarajevo.

  Even the flight over, on JAT (called by some Joking about Time,) the national airline, gave us a preview that things might not be that great at our destination. One of our members asked a flight attendant for more ice for a drink, and the woman put her finger in the drink and said “That’s cold enough.”

Generally, though, we were welcomed with fine Balkan hospitality—several places in Serbia young girls dressed in red and white costumes and wearing headresses greeted us with the traditional bread and salt, and we had a good time in both Croatia and Serbia, soon to be at each other’s throats. However, our guides told us that there were many problems  in the country, not least hyper-inflation. We went to change money almost every day, and each time got more local currency for our dollars.

Yugoslavia was one of the relative success stories of the Communist system. It was quite prosperous, independent of Moscow, and had seemed to build a system that worked. Traditional ethnic hatreds were subsumed in the Yugoslav nationality, forged out of resistance to the Germans in World War II. I was impressed with the marble tomb of Josip Broz Tito, long time Communist leader of the country. He was a Croatian who built a country where Serbian influence dominated, but everybody seemed to get along fairly well. Until, with the fall of Communism throughout almost all of Eastern Europe by 1991, they didn’t.

I am grateful I had a chance to see Yugoslavia while it existed. It was a great experiment, but one that eventually failed. I’m not sure the current patchwork of countries that succeeded Yugoslavia is working particularly well, but at least the shooting has stopped.

That is one of the great benefits of travel—it gives you a perspective on history and current events, an idea that there’s more to life than what is found at Walmart or on your smart phone.

And I didn’t even mention the critical part Sarajevo played in World War I. The assassination there in 1914 of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife led Austria to send an ultimatum to  Serbia. Because of the system of alliances that existed at that time, other countries began to mobilize and soon the world was at war.

Incidentally, if you visit the Kaiser Villa ( at Bad Ischl in the Salzkammergut region of Austria, you can see the ultimatum which Franz Joseph sent to Serbia, along with the pillow on which his beautiful wife Elizabeth died after being stabbed by an assassin in Geneva.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Teaching English Abroad

That is the name of an updated version of the classic book of the same title by Britisher Susan Griffiths. It was actually published in 2011, but I just came across it at my local library. It is a must for anyone considering trying to finance their travels by doing a spot of teaching along the way.
I have the 2003 edition of the book, and while the new one is about the same length, it is larger format and contains up to date information on preparation for teaching as well as a country by country guide to teaching opportunities. One of the most interesting sections is actual reports by teachers who have worked in some of the countries listed. Unfortunately, many of these accounts are printed in a strange type font that I, at least, found very hard to read.
You will learn from the book that the best preparation, in addition to at least a bachelor's degree, is some type of month-long certificate such as the CELTA sponsored by the University of Cambridge.
With those qualifications, you stand a fighting chance of some finding teaching work in Asia, Latin America, parts of Africa or the Middle East, so long as you are a native English speaker. Much of  Europe is out of bounds unless you are a citizen of the European Union or have some special qualifications.
The best paid jobs are often in places where living conditions may be harsh, such as Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states. Japan and South Korea are other countries where pay can be relatively high and you may be able to save some money.
Many people consider teaching English abroad as a good second career choice. It does work out for some, but the book frankly addresses the age discrimination which can make it difficult for teachers over 50.
 In order to secure a work visa, you will probably have to sign a contract to work for at least nine months, and be required to teach 20 or more hours per week. Often you can have a split shift, with early morning and late afternoon classes.
I have taught English to Frendh-speakers and immigrants here in Montreal, and while I found the work challenging and enjoyable I'm not sure I would want to do it full time. But as a way to get paid while you live abroad, it is one of the best options out there, and this guide book is very helpful.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Residences for Summer Savings

Summer travel can have its downside--big crowds, often higher prices, sometimes extremely hot weather. However, it is a favourite season for many because it is easier to get around and to spend time outdoors. This can lead to savings if you take public transit instead of taxis, and picnic outside on food purchased from grocery stores rather than dining at costly restauarnts.
It also can mean big savings on accommodation if you stay at university or college residences that are full of students at other times of year. The UK and Canada are particularly well-endowed with budget-friendly student residences that open to the public in summer.
In London there is a big choice--one site for information and booking is This site offers bed and breakfast for as little as 18 pounds single, 49 pounds with private facilities. It is just one of a number of Websites with similar offerings-- another is University College London, The famed London School of Economics is another choice, with a residence, High Holborn, very conveieint to the theatre district. I stayed there once and while the room was basic and the bathroom incredibly tiny, I couldn't complain about the price.
In my town of Montreal, three major universities open their residences to visitors in summer--University of Montreal (, Concordia University ( and McGill University Some of them can be reserved through Concordia has a new, centrally-located offering in the Grey Nun's Residence at the corner of Guy and Rene Levesque. It is set in beautiful grounds and rents single rooms for as little as $49 a night. At McGill, also very centrally located, rooms at the Royal Vcitoria Hall on Sherbrooke Street at University Avenue start at $40 single. The New Residence Hall on Park Avenue, formerly a hotel, has single or double rooms with bath for as little as $99 a night. Some of these places also offer weekly rates.
If you plan to visit any city in the UK or Canada that has a university, it is worthwhile checking into the possibility of staying on campus during the summer. Unfortunately, there do not seem to be any central booking services for more than one university, so research can take some time.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Casa de los Amigos

That is the name of a guesthouse in Mexico City that provides very inexpensive accommodation and other programs in what its Website ( describes as a "diverse and open social justice community." Amigo means friend in Spanish, and this attractive place is run by the Society of Friends, otherwise known as Quakers (those delightful folks who brought you Pennsylvania, Richard Nixon etc.).
It has men's and women's dormitories with 12 beds each, and while prices are not given on the Website I learned from another source that a bed can cost as little as $10 a night. It attracts not just tourists, but also refugees and volunteers of various ages and backgrounds. The Casa is drug, alcohol and smoke free.
I hesitate to say much about Mexico City, since I haven't been there for close to 20 years. It used to be one of my favourite places to visit, in a beautiful setting surrounded by volcanoes and with pleasant weather most of the year. On my first visit you could still see snow-covered Mt. Popotecapel towering above the city, but now it is usually shrouded by pollution.
 From what I have read Mexico City has become a lot more dangerous in recent years. Still, it has plentiful attractions including the wonderful Archeological Museum, Chapultepec Park, the zocalo with its beautiufl cathedral built near ancient Aztec ruins, and the large Aztec site nearby at Teotihuacan. The Mexican people are another reason to visit--in general they are very welcoming to strangers.
Still, Mexico is an enormous city and one where you may want a quiet retreat at low cost. For that, the Casa de los Amigos sounds ideal. It also offers volunteer opportunities, particularly for fluent Spanish speakers who are willing to commit to serving for nine months or more, and some shorter-term openings.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Housesitting Website

Does the idea of looking after a border collie for a few weekends appeal? Or how about five dogs or cats? These are the sorts of assignments you can find on Many of the openings seem to be in the UK or elsewhere in Europe, but there are also assignments in Australia, North America and elsewhere.
I must admit I would enjoy the border collie job, if only I lived in the UK where it is located. Border collies are lovely dogs on a short term basis, but are so highly energetic that they can be pretty tiring as a full time proposition.
It is possible to scroll through the available jobs on this site without signing up, or if you do sign up to be notified of new opportunities. Most of the openings seem to require some sort of petsitting, not just taking care of a home.
I learned of this site through Mr. Lemon is a retired attorney who writes at considerable length about the challenges of retirement and other topics.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Comments and Guest Posts

I do appreciate comments on this blog--the good, the bad, the self-promoting and even the incomprehensible. It's good to know that somebody out there is reading. At present the blog is not set up so I can respond to comments unless you leave an email address. If you want a response but are reluctant to leave your email, please contact me via my Website,
I welcome guest posts so long as they are relevant to the topic of budget travel or travel in general. However, I am not interested in posts that just promote a particular business or destination. If you would like to write a guest blog, please also contact me via the Website. There is no pay for posts at this time.
I hope this clarifies a couple of issues, and I do look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Last Minute Deals on Via Rail

If you are lucky and act fast, you can get some really good deals with Via Rail ( Express Deals. One of my Facebook ( friends claims to have bought a round trip on Via from Montreal to Toronto for $25 plus tax--incredible if true.
I couldn't find anything that good at the moment, but still there are substantial bargains, such as Jasper, Alberta to Toronto for $162.25 in economy clas, or Vancouver to Edmonton for $160.50. On the latter route you would be travelling through some amazing Rocky Mountain scenery most of the way, though the first part of the trip would be at night
The reductions can amount to as much as 75 per cent, and can apply to sleeper accommodation as well as economy travel. For example, Jasper to Toronto in an upper berth with meals included goes for $408.40.
It looks as if competition from carriers such as Megabus ( with its sometimes extremely low fares is forcing Via to become more customer-friendly. These Express Deals seem to be for travel within the next week, so they are good if you can get away at the last minute.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Interesting Russia Blogs

I have recently run across two blogs by expats that live or lived in Russia that you might want to check out if you are heading over there, or "going in," as Russians say. The first is, written by a young French businessman based in Moscow. He provides well-written posts on where to swim in the capital on summer weekends, and on travelling by train and the local trains called elektrichki, which serve many small towns across the country.
Did you know it is possible to travel all the way from Moscow to Petersburg using only these trains? It is, though you have to take five of the small trains. He recommends this type of travel as a good way to meet and mingle with ordinary Russians, and to see the countryside. He also recommends a Website if you are seeking a Moscow apartment, However, it seems to be only in Russian, a language in which the blog author is fluent --his English is pretty good, too. (Don't you hate people like that? LOL)
The other,, is written by a young American woman who taught English at the American Home ( in Vladimir, an ancient small city near Moscow, from 2005-06. It may be somewhat out of date, but it offers a good account of what it is like to teach English in a city that is not one of the main ones. While her experience overall seemed very positive, she does not gloss over the occasional hassle, like a drunk young man who followed her one night and would not take no for an answer. No one, including police, did anything to try to help her, but luckily she managed to escape.
Incidentally, the American Home might also be a good place to study Russian, especially if you want to avoid the big cities. They have various programs for both university-aged people and older learners, and the prices seem reasonable. Vladimir is a former Russian capital, with churches dating from the 12th century, and seems like a pleasant place. I was planning to add a picture from Vladimir to this post, but blogger has changed and it no longer seems to be possible to add images from your computer. I will try to figure out the new system and add it soon.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Affordable Iran

A strict Muslim country isn't everybody's idea of a good vacation destination, but in the case of Iran you might want to make an exception. The country formerly known as Persia contains some of the world's best examples of ancient Islamic architecture and the ruins of Persepolis, the ancient city built by Darius the Great in the 5th century B.C.
If you studied classics or ancient history, you already know that in olden days Persia was for a long time the main rival to Greece, and enjoyed a high level of civilization at a time when people in western Europe were still living in very primitive conditions.
It is possible to visit Iran relatively inexpensively. A 14-day tour offered by G Adventures ( covers most of the country, and prices start at $2,299 per person double occupancy, with a single supplement of $899. The itinerary starts and ends in the capital Tehran, and includes visits to Shiraz/Persepolis, Isfahan noted for Islamic architecture and beautiful carpets, Kashan which is famous for gardens and carpets, and a stay in a desert caravanserai. If you book through you may be able to get a price reduction.
According to a post on, it is possible to travel in Iran a lot more cheaply by bus, if you are highly  adventurous and not an American citizen. Americans are required to take group tours, and there are reports of them sometimes being denied visas.
Be aware of the rules requiring women to cover themselves with long black garments known as chadors, even in the heat of summer, and of other restrictions such as the total absence of alcohol. Also, several Western governments have issued warnings against unnecessary travel to Iran.
However, all the reports I have seen indicate that Iranians are generally very hospitable to foreigners. Here in Montreal I have spoken with many Iranian taxi drivers who generally say the country and people are wonderful, but the government is another story.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

My Journey to Travel Writing


Inspired by a post on about the author, Shannon O’Donnell’s. background and how it led to travel writing, I decided to let you know about mine.

 Like many kids, I dreamed of travel. National Geographic was one of my favourite magazines, with its beautiful photos of exotic lands. When I felt bullied in high school, I dreamed of escaping into a bigger world where, at last, my worth would be recognized.

 My parents travelled a fair amount for the times. My dad travelled on business in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.  As a family we spent every vacation visiting various historical sights around the eastern United States. My mother loved travelling in the U.S. and to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America as a young woman. She had only two or three weeks vacation from her job as a secretary in Chicago, but made good use of it.

When I was a kid, only the very rich travelled to Europe. It wasn’t that long before that some of our families had left Europe, usually escaping poverty or some type of persecution. My paternal grandmother emigrated from Ireland via Scotland to the U.S. late in the 19th century, escaping the life of a factory worker in polluted Glasgow.

I didn’t really expect to travel widely—I was pretty content with life in the U.S. as I got older-- but somehow it happened. Two professors in college influenced me a lot, and both were internationalists. One, Robert Evans, was an Englishman who had attended the Bologna Center of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and spoke highly of it. He wrote me a good recommendation, and I ended up enrolling at the Washington campus of SAIS for an M.A.

I received a full scholarship for the second year at the Bologna campus. At the time my parents had not yet been to Europe and I suspect they were fearful for me, but luckily they agreed that I could go. While I was studying in Italy I took advantage of every opportunity to travel, visiting Britain and Ireland, France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany, the Soviet Union at Christmas time and Greece and Turkey at Easter. In the spring I bought a car in Munich and with some friends, took in the Grand Prix at Monaco. When the term was over, I set out on my own to explore Spain, Morocco, more of France, Belgium and Germany .I had many adventures along the way, some of them pretty scary,  but after that I was hooked.

During my first decade in the “real world” I bounced between various journalistic and academic endeavours. Whenever I had the chance, I travelled, usually back to Europe. At last I secured what I hoped would be my “dream Job” as a business reporter in Toronto at The Globe and Mail. It proved to be less than dreamy, however. The editor for whom I had been freelancing successfully was difficult to work for in person, and my health began to suffer. I knew I would have to quit, but I wanted to stay at least a year so it would look better to future employers.

Luckily, my friend and colleague Brian Milner (who has hung in at The Globe all these years) mentioned that the travel editor, Joe Cohen, was looking for columnists, and I prepared three sample columns on budget travel, which were accepted. When my year was up I left the staff job but, luckily, was able to keep my column. I even went back to freelancing extensively for the editor I’d had trouble with, Ian Carman, founding editor of The Report on Business .I owe all those people a lot, just as I owe the teachers and previous employers who gave me the background to work at that newspaper.

The column lasted 11 years and formed the backbone of a fairly remunerative freelance writing career, in addition to providing many travel opportunities.

When it and another travel column I had been writing for The Gazette in Montreal ended at about the same time, I was plunged into a long period of uncertainty and suffering about my direction in life. Then some family situations captured my attention for several years  By the end of that period I still was not sure what to do, but began exploring fiction writing. So far, it has proved to be interesting but not lucrative. A few years ago I started writing this blog, returning to my favourite topic of budget travel. The difficulty now is that the cost of travel has escalated, but my income has not, so I am wondering how long I will continue the blog. As long as I enjoy it and attract some readers, I suppose.

During my prolonged midlife crisis I was fortunate to discover, through my friend Valerie Broege, the work of Carl Gustav Jung and the C.G. Jung Society of Montreal .I made a lot of new friends there, and actually wrote a play which they agreed to stage as a public reading, about an imaginary analysis of V.I. Lenin by C.G. Jung in 1916, when both men were living in Zurich. You can see a clip from it on my Website,

Recently I read a book by Robert A. Johnson, a Jungian analyst in California. He speaks of the “slender threads” that have connected his own life journey, and how following these threads has opened to him a life much richer than he expected when he was young. I must say the same is true for me. I didn’t set out to be a travel writer or a writer of any kind—my original goal was diplomatic service, but that is what happened, and I am very grateful it did.

Building an interesting life or achieving a dream requires taking a lot of chances. So my advice is don’t be afraid, go for it. The detour that you thought was off your path may actually turn out to have been your path itself.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Concerns about Couchsurfing

If you are considering couchsurfing ( or hosting travellers, you may want to read an article on the Website about Couchsurfing's current situation.
Couchsurfing matches private individuals with travellers who stay in their home at no cost. It is understandable a popular site, and this is the first negative review I have read of it. I have never tried couchsurfing myself, but find the idea appealing.
However, according to the article, there have been a lot of changes since the writer first joined, when the site attracted people of all ages and seemed to him like a real community. Now, apparently, it seems to consist mostly of young men who are eager to meet young women. The author mentions concerns about safety and even instances where guests have been expected to pay for their couch, or where hosts have find items missing after taking in a couchsurfer.
Admittedly, the idea of staying in a stranger's home is a little scary, as is the idea of having a stranger stay with you. If you do choose this route, be sure to check out through references the hosts and guests with whom you want to interact.
A good alternative to couchsurfing if you are willing to travel with a group is Friendship Force International (  On Friendship Force's home exchanges you also stay with strangers, but there seems to be more vetting of both hosts and guests, and the average age of participants is likely to be higher.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Alternative Lodgings

One of the best ways to save money on lodging costs is to look for alternative, non-profit places. These vary widely in both quality and cost, but one way to be relatively sure of cleanliness and quiet is by choosing a convent, monastery or other lodging place run by a religious group.
A great source for information on such lodgings around the world is the searchable Website, which offers information on beds for visitors offered by religious groups around the world. You can also buy a print guidebook with the same information. Produced by an Australian woman who has travelled widely, as many Aussies seem to do, it is worth a look if you are heading to an expensive place and don't really want to take a chance on couchsurfing or an unknown bed and breakfast through a site such as www.airbnb.ccom.
You can find monastic lodgings in locations as diverse as Hong Kong, New York, Rome, Berlin, Iceland and now, new since I last looked as the site, Moldova.
While I haven't stayed in any of the places listed, I have enjoyed stays at similar convents in Switzerland and near Montreal. I used to stay in a hotel in Munich that was run by nuns, but it does not seem to be operating now.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Europe on a Budget

If you know you want to go to Europe but can't decide where, consider consulting "The Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget." More or less a successor to the iconic "Europe on $5 a Day" by Arthur Frommer, it covers all the major countries in Europe and gives basic information on visiting each country on a budget.
From Ireland to Russia, you can learn about the history, culture, language and main attractions and general price level of the different countries. Obviously, because it covers so much the guide can only manage a few suggestions of places to stay and eat in each country it includes. Once you decide on one or more countries, you will probably want to consult sources with more detailed information.
You will notice that the daily budgets differ quite a lot between relatively inexpensive countries like Romania or Portugal and high-cost ones like Great Britain or Switzerland, and plan your trip accordingly if money is a big concern (and isn't it usually?)
Rough Guides ( are produced in the UK and I have often found them helpful, particularly for relatively unknown destinations.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Culture Vulture's Berlin

For fans of classical music, opera, historic buildings and museums, few cities in the world can equal Berlin. About a decade ago I travelled there with a friend, Lila, who had never visited the city, for a week of touring and concert going.
We stayed at the Forum Hotel on Alexanderplatz in the city's former Eastern sector. This hotel is now known as the Park Inn ( and room rates are advertised for as low as 64 euros, or about $85 per night. I think it was about the same when we were there, and the rate included an enormous and delicious breakfast buffet, with many different breads. This is not a cozy hotel--it towers 40 storeys in the best Soviet tradition, but it is very well located.
My friend insisted on buying tickets in advance for the Staatsoper ( and for the Philharmonie (,) and this proved to be a good idea, since last minute tickets would have been hard to find. The Staatsoper is not in the theatre we visited, and its main productions are now in the Schiller Theatre. Tickets start at 20 euros for the opera, 19 euros for the Philharmonie in its beautiful modern theatre in the round. Sir Neville Marriner, many of whose recordings I had heard on the CBC, was conducting the night we were at the symphony.
We visited many museums, including the wonderful Pergamon, the Egyptian Museum, the Bauhaus Archiv and the Brohan Museum of Art Nouveau (known as Jugendstil in German) and Art Deco. All were worthwhile, but if you have time for just one among Berlin's 180 museums make it the Pergamon, to see the Pergamon altar from the Hellenic period and the Ishtar gate from ancient Babylon.
One day we took a bus tour to Potsdam, which proved to be a good idea because the attractions in Potsdam are very spread out and it would be hard to see them without a car. We were there is December, so tourists were blessedly few. San Souci, the villa of Frederick the Great, is the main attraction, but there are many more including the palace where the Potsdam Conference was held after World War II, the secret city of the KGB (I'm not sure this is still there,) and the small downtown with its different architectural styles (Dutch, French, Russian) for the different groups of early settlers.
Berlin is a great walking city, and we enjoyed looking for the Nikolai Viertel, showplace of the former East Berlin, and for remnants of the Wall. Best of all was a brunch followed by a walking tour with two friends of my friend Pat, Bill and Doris, who regaled us with tales of being in Berlin at the time the Wall came down.