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Berlin Notes

News and views from Germany's federal capital in easily-digestible blog format.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Some pictures of Berlin's newest baby elephant are available here.


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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Berlin's Transport Museum has a large depot of historical public transport vehicles and oldtimer cars which isn't usually open to the public. However, every year on each Sunday in September the doors are thrown open to every one - and entrance is free!

Highlights include old S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains, various historical buses, and even a car used by former East German leader Erich Honecker while hunting. There's a free bus shuttle service between the depot and the transport museum itself, provided using working vintage buses. There will also be a train shuttling between the two locations, but you will need an entrance ticket for the Transport Museum in order to be able to use this.


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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Berlin has a reputation as one of Europe's better value-for-money capitals - and a lot of things aren't just cheap, they're free. Now there's a website - Berlin-for-free - which, as its name suggests, holds listings of free events in Germany's capital.

Berlin For Free

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Tierpark has just announced the birth of a baby pachyderm, the 13th since 1999. Mother is Bibi. The African elephant calf - as yet unnamed - was born without complications weighing 96 kilos and is doing well. It is likely to be presented to the public tomorrow (Friday).


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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

On the weekend of August 25 / 26, the Federal Government is throwing open its doors to all and sundry, i.e. the common people like you and me, so we can go sniffing round their offices - for free. It's called Tag der offenen Tür (literally "Day of the Open Door") and All the major ministerial buildings in the centre of Berlin, as well as the Federal Chancellery will be "open" - although usually with some sort of event going on in the garden / courtyard, and carefully controlled guided tours through the respective building itself.


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Sunday, August 19, 2007

It's the middle of the silly season, what better time to restart the Berlin-Splitter series? Odd stuff from Germany's capital.

You'd think at least the Federal Construction Ministry would get it right - but no, their nice new building in the Invalidenstraße (inauguration year: 1999) is full of problems ranging from insufficient fire protection, ineffective air conditioning and instable structural elements. So the ministry is being repaired at a cost of €25 million (of which nearly €7 million are being spent on "planning and damage management" - nice work when you can get it). At least some of the costs are covered by insurance, but taxpayers will no doubt be stumping up somewhere along the line.


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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Knut is slowly being weaned off his baby food: in the early days he was fed a mixture of milk and dog / cat food, now he's eating a mush of milk, meat, cod-liver oil and vitamins. The Zoo has now announced that he'll be getting more raw meat and fish over the next couple of months, by which time his diet will be the normal polar bear adult diet.

Knut now weighs in at about 65kg (I don't know how much that is in pounds, but it's about 10kg than I myself weigh).


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Thursday, August 16, 2007

This time EasyJet reports that it served a record number of passengers at Schönefeld - 288,000 - in July (up from 286,000 in June). The former unloved child among the three Berlin airports is getting ever more popular - it may never become the international hub it was once envisaged as, but as one of mainland Europe's main bases for low-cost carriers it's certainly becoming ever more useful.

(And I can remember a time when, if you turned up at Schönefeld in the afternoon, there were so few remaining departures that screens would show the next flights right through until noon the next day).


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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

WatchBerlin

No, not the U-Bahn, but a YouTube clone called WatchBerlin especially for Germany's federal capital. Watch video clips made by normale Berliners, and also special clips made by some Berliner Promis (celebrities) such as Wladimir Kaminer.

A nice idea, although the site is not as easy to use as YouTube and on a stable 1Mb/s DSL connection the videos don't play smoothly. Users of Apple's Safari browser may find the the site doesn't work properly - and the videos are not playable in Linux.

Link: http://www.watch-berlin.net/


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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

That sounds more painful than it is - a stele (plural stelae) is a slab of stone or wood, generally taller than they are wide, which are erected for commemorative purposes, and there are 2,711 of them at the Holocaust Memorial. Made of special concrete, after just a couple of years of exposure to the elements, around 400 are developing cracks, especially those on the southwest site of the memorial, which is most exposed to the sun.

No-one's quite sure what the cause is, though theoretically this shouldn't be happening - the stelae were made to a very stringent design. The Memorial is considering filling the cracks with synthetic resin, but if the problems continue, some of the stelae may have to be replaced.


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