Berlin, Germany's capital, is whittling its air traffic down to a single airport as construction continues on the new Willy Brandt Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport, slated to open in 2012.
Also in Berlin, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is under reconstruction through 2012. This compelling church, still bearing the scars of WWII bombs, will have its foundations strengthened, making it possible for visitors to get to the top of the church for the first time in 60 years. Until then, the church will be swathed in an aluminium tent to prevent dust and allow work during inclement weather.
The headquarters of the Reich Main Security Office was once the most feared address in Berlin. Today the site houses the Topography of Terror, which recently opened an exhibition hall focusing not on the victims, but on the perpetrators. The exhibit provides a chilling but fascinating look at just how seamlessly and bureaucratically the Nazi institutions and state government merged to become a well-oiled terror machine.
Visitors to Berlin's popular Neues Museum - featuring the famous bust of the forever young Queen Nefertiti (circa 1340 B.C.) - now must book a 30-minute window to enter. Once you're inside, you can stay as long as you like.
The bust of Nefertiti from the Ägyptisches Museum Berlin collection, presently in the Neues Museum
In Germany's peaceful Mosel Valley, plans are underway to construct a mile-long, 500-foot-high expressway bridge (called Hochmoselbrücke) near the town of Ürzig, just upstream from Cochem and Beilstein. The 270 million-euro project will likely mar the pristine scenery here, and local winemakers - and wine-lovers worldwide - worry that the construction and heavy use of the bridge will damage the delicate ecosystem that produces some of Germany's most beloved grapes.
After being damaged by floods in 2002, Dresden's historic Albertinum museum complex has reopened. It houses two good museums: the Sculpture Collection and the New Masters Gallery, giving this underrated German cultural capital even more of a sightseeing kick. Meanwhile, the medieval town of Rothenburg, on the touristy Romantic Road, has lost some of its kick after banning horse-carriage rides, due to concerns about safety and animal welfare.
A recent change may clear the air in Austria, Germany's south-eastern neighbour. Known for having some of Europe's loosest restrictions on smoking, Austria finally toughened up its law on smoking in public places, though travellers should still expect the possibility of some smoke in restaurants.
Train station renovations are disrupting travel in Austria's two big destinations. Vienna's multiple stations are in disarray for several years as a central train station is built.
Salzburg's station is also a messy work-in-progress, and for the next few years its services will be operating out of temporary structures in the parking lot. While bus stops out front might shuffle around a bit, they are clearly marked and serve the centre and airport very well.
The city of Vienna has recently upgraded its Citybike Wien program, which lets people cheaply rent bikes from public racks all over town. The new three-speed bikes are clunky and difficult to manoeuvre, but they're perfect for a short, practical joyride in the centre or for a fun pedal on the bike paths that run along the Ringstrasse, the wide road encircling the historic core of the city.
Austria, Vienna : Dancers of the Austrian ballet perform during the opening of the traditional Opera Ball at the state opera in Vienna on 3 March 2011
At Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Kunstkammer, a collection of medieval and Renaissance jewelled wonders that includes Cellini's famous gold-plated Salt Cellar table sculpture, is closed for restoration through 2012. It isn't the first time that Cellini's exquisite masterpiece has been out of view - it was stolen in 2003 but recovered three years later.
For a fun opportunity to float in the clouds with cupids and angels, Vienna's Karlskirche provides elevator rides up into its dome. The industrial lift, installed for restoration work, takes you to a platform at the base of the church's 235-foot dome; from here you can climb stairs to the very top of the church. The scaffolding and elevator will likely be dismantled in late 2012, when restoration is complete.
The Vienna Opera continues to demonstrate its commitment to bringing opera to the masses. Every summer for the past couple of years, it has broadcast several of its performances live on a huge screen on the side of its building. Entry is free, and chairs are provided, making this one of the most pleasant and affordable ways to enjoy Vienna's world-class music scene.
Whatever your interest - thrilling opera, World War II memorials, frolicking cupids, urban biking, or sublime art - these Teutonic neighbours have treasures in store for you.
What you need to know about German schools and daycare.
Want to move to Germany but haven’t figured out the details? Check out Expatica’s overview of the German permit system.
In part one of our two part series, we cover the driving culture in Berlin, where to park and buy gas and, most importantly, the laws.
Our comprehensive guide includes information on how to find work, recruitment agencies, employment contracts and labour law.