News and views from Germany's federal capital in easily-digestible blog format.
Berlin's first telephone book was published exactly 125 years ago,
on July 14 1881, about six months after the introduction of
the first telephones. It contained just 28 pages and 187 listings -
the modern version
runs to two thick volumes of about 1500 densely
printed pages each. Back then the Stock Exchange (Börse)
had bagged the very easy to remember telehpone number "1".
If you want to take a trip down Berlin's telecommunicative memory lane,
the publisher Berlin Story Verlag
has reprinted the original as
Das erste Berliner Telefonbuch 1881
If you want to know more about Berlin's communication history, check out
the Museum for Communication Berlin.
Posted at 2006-07-14 10:32:00
Since Germany won the 2006 World Cup (actually they came third, but
living here you get the impression the actual final match was a sort
of afterthought) everyone was expecting Jürgen Klinsmann, the
charismatic and unexpectedly successful team trainer, to extend his
Can't say that I blame him, what with all the millions he has already
as well as a nice place to live in California.
But it's not all bad news: the Love Parade is back
after a two-year hiatus -
appropriately enough under the motto "the love is back".
Taking place on Saturday the 15th, the Love Parade offers
a unique opportunity to cure your post-world-cup depression by mixing
with hundreds of thousands of provincial teenies having their idea
of fun, which if previous years are to go by involves
long-term damage to the inner ear and turning the
long-suffering Tiergarten into a toilet.
Whether the predicted million or so ravers will actually turn up is
another question. Any marketing activities have been rather eclipsed
by the World Cup, and the event itself is under new management
(much to the disgust of Dr. Motte, the parade's founder, whose
company however failed to run the parade at anything less than a large
If nothing else the weather should be OK, with temperatures on Saturday
predicted to be around 26C and a 10% chance of rain.
If you can't make the Love Parade, try
this event two weeks later
(Warning: site name contains a four-letter word which might not
be safe in an Anglo-Saxon work environment).
Posted at 2006-07-13 09:11:00
If you find yourself in Berlin without a watch - don't rely too much on
the public clocks, they're notorious for being wrong. In extreme cases
such as the one on the right, they can show several completely different - and
wrong - times.
The World Time Clock (Weltzeituhr) on Alexanderplatz is generally
pretty accurate though.
Posted at 2006-07-12 11:05:00
As predicted the good weather is holding up,
but evidently the heat has gone to the heads of whoever thinks up
product marketing for the Extra chain of
supermarkets: at the moment they're offering a "buy cheese, get free flipflops"
special. With the flipflops in the same wrapping as the cheese.
Still, at least the flipflops don't need to be "worn in" to get that
authentic cheesy fragrance.
Posted at 2006-07-11 09:43:00
Well, it's all over now bar the shouting, and to be honest seeing all these
footballs everywhere does get a little tiring. It'll be another two years
before the next round of craziness, which according to this light installation
on the back of the Swiss Embassy
will be the European Cup in 2008, to be held in Switzerland which is fortunately
quite a long way away.
Posted at 2006-07-10 12:04:00
As someone who has trouble remembering which teams are playing in a match,
my participation in the plethora of World Cup related events has been somewhat
minimal. More by chance than design I ended up at the "Fan Mile"
in Berlin's Tiergarten on Saturday night in time to watch the
Germany-Portugal match for third place (although judging by the reactions of
the local citizenry you'd think Germany had won the cup).
Though very crowded, especially in front of the big screens, it was a
comparatively civilized affair, the kind of event where you could - and
people did - bring the kids. There was a police presence, and fairly
thorough searches were conducted at the entrance points, but once inside
safety was pretty much up to the crowd itself, and as I've experienced at
similar events in Germany, everyone was pretty well-behaved. Loud and raucous
yes, but noone doing anything really idiotic like throwing stuff into the
crowd or brawling. (Might have been different if England had been playing though).
Posted at 2006-07-09 10:48:00
If you're taking a walk along Berlin's longest remaining section of wall,
the East Side Gallery, don't be surprised to find part of it missing.
A 40 metre section has just been removed (and put up again a short distance
away) to create access to the River Spree from the nearby O2 World stadium /
arena complex, which is currently under construction.
Posted at 2006-07-08 11:34:00
Well, I was right about the motive behind the mysterious concrete footballs. Turns out
the guys behind them "feel that they have been misunderstood as artists", with
their intent behind the rather-too-solid balls being to symbolise football
as a mass phenomonen etc. etc. The Berliner Zeitung has
more information (German only).
All 16 "installations" have disappeared in the meantime, making Berlin
once again safe for casual kickers of footballs.
Posted at 2006-07-07 11:37:00
For the last few days footballs filled with concrete and chained together in
pairs have been turning up in various parts of Berlin. Sometimes they've been
accompanied by the invitation "can u kick it?", which has led to foot injuries to anyone trying.
16 of the football pairs have turned up so far. Now the police have found
the perpetrators: two Austrians who have been living in Berlin for some time,
and who were in the process of making more of the concrete footballs, which weigh about 10kg each.
Their motives are not yet known, though I'd bet the words "conceptual", "art"
and/or "installation" would be involved in any explanation.
Posted at 2006-07-06 09:14:00
It was Germany versus Italy in the semifinal last night - and the streets
virtually empty, the only noise coming from the fluttering of German flags and
the occasional cries of despair as yet another goal opportunity was missed.
The German description for this kind of must-see event is Strassenfeger (literally "street sweeper").
Only problem was the slight lack of goals against Italy, and the atmosphere this morning is somewhat subdued to say the least. Still a lot of flags flying defiantly though.
Not being German we celebrated with some Italian nectarines fresh from the supermarket.
Posted at 2006-07-05 09:51:00
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