In a travel alert issued Thursday, the US State Department said a series of terror attacks across Europe showed that international terror groups such as the “Islamic State” and al-Qaida were still capable of executing attacks on the continent.
Washington has been warning its citizens to beware of extremist attacks in European cities, especially during festive events. The latest travel alert, which specifically mentions the holiday season, expires on January 31, 2018.
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The alert said extremists continued to focus on tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets, shopping malls, and local government facilities as viable targets. It also listed a host of possible soft targets like airports and restaurants.
The State Department said it continues to work closely with its European partners and allies on the threat from international terrorism and asked those traveling between countries in Europe to check the local US embassy or consulate website for any recent security messages.
At Charlottenburg Palace a huge Christmas pyramid spins in front of the Baroque building. Old gas candelabras provide gentle light. There are stalls selling handcrafted Christmas tree decorations and culinary delights. Small historical rides like a merry-go-round, swings and a swing carousel greatly excite children and nostalgic adults.
In December, when daylight ends in the afternoon, festive lights turn the shopping areas into enchanted places in Berlin. The Kurfürstendamm and the Tauenzien streets are very elaborately and splendidly lit. Hop on a M29 bus and enjoy travelling though the sea of lights in comfort and warmth.
Across from Berlin‘s Memorial Church a new urban quarter is emerging. An ensemble of architecturally attractive buildings containing hotels, restaurants and incorporating the protected “Bikini Berlin” building, a design shopping center mall make Christmas shopping in the City West fun.
Berlin‘s most sought after walk-in Christmas parcel is on Breitscheidplatz. Here visitors can take a shower in lights, before diving into the stores for their Christmas shopping. Those wanting a quick mulled wine while out shopping should go to the Christmas market at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church – which incidentally also offers short memorial services, for those seeking bit of reflection.
Every year a different German state provides the German Chancellery in Berlin with a Christmas tree. It is located in the inner yard opposite a sculpture by Eduardo Chillida. In the Government district there are many more beautifully decorated Christmas trees to be discovered.
A sponsor ensures that the boulevard Unter den Linden enjoys a kind of bloom in the middle of winter. Between the Brandenburg Gate and the Humboldt University 370, 000 meters of LED lighting strips were used to decorate the trunks and branches of 220 trees. Anyone wanting to take as troll through the lights can do so until January 1st.
The Gendarmenmarkt turns into “Christmas magic in tents”. In front of the concert hall you’ll find one of the tallest Christmas trees in Berlin, measuring 23 meters. Handicrafts and culinary delights can be enjoyed in the heated tents, which are decorated with over 1,000 meters of light strips, more than 1,000 glitter balls and 120 shining Moravian stars.
On Alexanderplatz you can reach up into the sky, or at least feel that way on a Ferris Wheel measuring some 60 meters. Everywhere you look, the rides and merry-go-rounds are festively lit. The aroma of candy floss and roasted almonds fills the air. Several stands vocally offer the purchase of tickets to win brightly colored cuddly toys. Here you’ll find mainly young people congregating.
Under the roof of the Sony Center on Potsdamer Platz you can enjoy a colorful light spectacle anytime of the year. At Christmas time there are a further 100,000 lights added to the display- glittering gold and bright blue. Every day as of 2 pm elves and other fable creatures appear here. The center is closed though on Christmas Eve, the 24th December.
Festively decorated Berlin‘s central train station welcomes some 300,000 travelers and visitors every day during advent. Under the glass roof there are two main levels for rail traffic and in the 15,000 square meter shopping mall travelers will find an extensive choice of last minute gifts. These shops remain open late into the evenings and also over Christmas.