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For many, the Berlin Wall is still there

It's been more than 20 years since the Berlin Wall came down. Although almost all vestiges of the Wall have disappeared, taken in small chunks by souvenir hunters, the concrete barrier remains an ominous presence for many Berliners. Hundreds of those who grew up with the Wall suffer from a psychological disorder known as "Wall Sickness." Surprisingly, it is not the West Berliners -- the ones who were surrounded by the Wall -- that suffer from the disorder, but the East Berliners, who wanted to get through, over or under the Wall to freedom.

Wandering the Wachau

Grüner Veltliner is not a wine on the radar map for most people. That's because it comes from Austria, also not a country on the map for most wine enthusiasts, but that's more a product of the fact that most Austrian wine is consumed locally. It's just too good to export and let somebody else enjoy. Austria's Wachau, a picturesque region on the banks of the Danube River and just 90 minutes from Vienna, is Austria's best wine region and one of my favorite "in between" destinations.

Pre-historic cave art was child's play

In the Dordogne region of southwestern France are dozens of caves where pre-historic cave art has been preserved. Some of these etchings and paintings are more than 30,000 years old. An anthropologist that leads tours through the cave at Font de Gaume once remarked to me two things that have always stuck in my mind. One, that the expressive style of art has not changed in all that time. The materials have changed; the subjects have changed; but the need for expression, the desire to create, has not.

The second remark was that painting and etching was a learned art. People didn't just pick up some berry juice and a hollow straw and begin painting. Pre-historic man didn't wander into a cave with a bit of sharp stone one day and begin carving a wooly mammoth. The techniques of using the natural shape of the cave walls to create volume and perspective were not some animal instinct. This was clearly a tradition, taught and passed on from generation to generation. In other words, our stereo-typical view of the caveman as some grunting, bumbling beast, barely evolved from his ape ancestors, is completely wrong.

Now recent research in one of these caves has shown that some of the more primitive etchings were indeed child's play, the finger paintings of the next generation, learning techniques at the side of their teachers.

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