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Berlin Notes: Living

Notes and information on life in Berlin.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Germany takes its public holidays seriously: they're "celebrated" on the day they fall on (no postponement to the following Monday etc.), and - with certain exceptions - all shops are closed.

Note that public holidays in Germany differ somewhat between federal states (Bundesländer), and some of the more Catholic states have extra holidays.

2009 Public Holidays in Berlin

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Friday, October 26, 2007

The evenings are drawing in and the direly grim month of November is almost upon us. To squeeze that extra hour of light out of the evening, clocks will be going back an hour on Sunday, October 28th at 2am, making it a 25 hour day.

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Monday, October 1, 2007

Germany has always lagged behind many other countries as far as "protection" of non-smokers goes. Despite the fact that less than 40% of the population are smokers, you get the impression the right to smoke is anchored in Germany's constitution, and anyone wanting to move about in public without getting blasted by rather smelly nicotine has been forced to go out of their way to find fresh air.

Things have improved over the last few years, especially regarding smoking in the workplace. However, places such as restaurants and cafés have traditionally been very reluctant to offer their customers anything more than a token no-smoking area, often just a couple of tables on the way to the toilets with no protection from all those lovely carciogenic fumes. Attitudes have been changing however, and since about 2006 there's been a lively public debate about the introduction of a general ban on smoking.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

According to the boffins at the Free University's meteorological station in Dahlem, 2007 has so far been the wettest year they've ever experienced. Up until yesterday afternoon they've measured 781.5 litres of rain per square metre, which is not far below the current record of 805 litres in 1926. With over three months to go, it looks like Berlin's market for umbrellas might be experiencing a renaissance.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

No doubt you've seen the pictures of savers queuing outside the British Northern Rock bank, anxious to protect their savings from the vagaries of the international finance markets. If you've got some Euros stashed away in one of the many German banks, you may be asking yourself right now whether it'd be worth making an Überweisung (bank transfer) directly to the underside of your mattress.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

One of the less customer-friendly aspects of Germany's banking system are the fees levied when you withdraw cash from an ATM of another bank (or at least one which isn't part of your bank's ATM network). Fees range from 4 to 7.50 Euro, and can quickly add up if you take out cash without much thought.

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Monday, September 3, 2007

Bad news for fans / addicts of smelly, cancer-causing nicotine-based products, good news for everyone else: as of September 1, another step in Germany's gradual move towards a general smoking ban came into effect, with smoking now banned by law on all forms of public transport. This includes all of Deutsche Bahn's trains, which no longer have smoking compartments or carriages, and taxis. Smoking has also been banned on all stations except the 330 largest, where it is only permitted in strictly limited areas.

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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, May 10, 2007

The two Sundays on which shops can open in Berlin (verkaufsoffene Sonntage) for the second half of the year have been announced: September 2nd (in conjunction with the IFA) and October 7th (in conjunction with the Art Forum / Kunstherbst).

There are now three remaining Sunday shopping days in 2007:

  • May 20th
  • September 2nd
  • October 7th

Shops are also generally open on the four Advent Sundays before Christmas.

See Shopping in Berlin for general information on shop opening hours in Berlin.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Among Berlin's many delights are its open-air swimming pools and lakeside bathing beaches. Unfortunately they're not very flexible when it comes to reacting to unseasonably warm weather (like it is now) - the BBB's official outdoor bathing season begins on April 28, with some locations not opening until the middle of May; until then sun-seekers will have to make do with the city's many parks, and anyone wishing to brave the still seasonably cool water (currently around 10°C) is limited to inofficial bathing "beaches" or the few privately-run ones, who's opening depends on the individual operators.

Currently only the Strandbad Weißensee appears to be operating.

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