BERLIN is such a rapidly-changing city that is essential to be guided by one who knows what is going on. For example here are more and more Contemporary Art collections opening in private spaces in these days: the Boros, the Heiner, the Sander and the Hoffman, and they require special arrangements. Private visits to artists’ studios can also be arranged. Meanwhile the classical museums are a treat, and more treasures keep coming out of the woodwork. The newly-opened Neues Museum with Nefertiti is a must-see and look out for the re-opening of the Decorative Arts Museum in 2014.

Just next door is the charming lakeside royal residence of POTSDAM, worth more exploration that the classic day trip allows. One can stay in the trendy 18th century Dutch quarter, and take a grand journey in a 1908 steamship to view many of the palaces from the water. The Hohernzollerns built here over five generations, and after visiting Schloss Sanssouci one walks through the park to a Chinese Tea Pavilion of the 1760’s. The neo-Classical Marble Palace complete with luxurious furnishings and a famous Wedgewood collection, is one that has been newly re-opened, but the process is ongoing, after years of East German neglect. Lunch at the Cecilienhof Palace, site of the Potsdam Conference, is possible, as well as walks throughout the various linked gardens and parks between the Charlottenhof, Glienecke and Babelsberg palaces. In June there is a boutique music festival with concerts in many private villas of the court and Royal theatre at the great Neues Palais.

The Chinoiserie aspects of a city like DRESDEN are obvious when one considers the Porcelain Collection, Green Vault (including newly-opened Turkish Chamber) and nearby Meissen, but Schloss Pillnitz a boat-ride away is little-known, and we also like to visit Moritzburg, with its famous Feather room, a private wine-making schloss nearby and the Anglo-Chinese Park at the Oranienbaum, as well as the extraordinary Wörlitz landscape park, which one visits via gondola – all in 3 nights.