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Friday, January 5, 2007

Berlin-Splitter (10)

The Tempelhof Airport saga continues: it looks like the airport's closure date will be put back a year, to October 31, 2008. Personally I don't think they'll ever actually manage to close it... We'll see. Meanwhile, it appears someone has been taking pot shots at Tempelhof's radar tower, a structure erected in 1984 by the US Army. Traces of seven bullet holes were found in the radar tower's outer shielding, although it is not clear when the shots were fired or by whom. German military intelligence is investigating.

More financial scandal: the Technikmuseum (Museum of Transport and Technology) was promised a donation of five million Euros by British millionaire and transport fan Glenn Lacey to buy a plot of land adjacent to the museum. It looks like Mr. Lacey is not actually going to cough up the cash - and for legal reasons too boring to go into here, it looks like Berlin's government will have to scrape together the 5 million from its own meagre resources.

Fortunately Berlin's financial situation is seeing a turn-up in its fortunes: thanks to better-than-expected tax revenues and draconian cutbacks, in 2006 the city managed to make a €376 million "surplus" over normal expenditure. It still had to spend a whopping €2.4 billion on interest payments on its even more whopping €61 billion debt though, so don't expect to see gold-plated waste bins appearing on the streets just yet.

2006 was also a remarkably warm year (never!), even though the first three months got off to an unseasonably cold start. With an average temperature of 24.4°C July was 5°C over the 30-year average, and this last December was the warmest since 1974, with an average of 5.7°C - compared with the usual 1.4°C. The "warm" weather looks likely to continue for the next few days at least, with lows of around 5°C - way above last January, which reached a low point of -18.1°C on the 23rd.

Looking ahead to the summer, it's likely the increasingly untrendy Love Parade will once again turn the Tiergarten into Europe's largest open-air urinal. The date might be moved forward from the traditional second July weekend to the numerically interesting 07.07.07 - partly because a rival operation, the "B-Parade", has booked the Tiergarten for the Love Parade's usual date.

Diving back into the minutae of Berlin's gastronomy scene, the former C-Matto near Hackescher Markt (previously known as Cibomatto before nationwide coffee chain Tschibo threw a legal wobbly over similarities in pronunciation) will be reopening in January - under new ownership, new name and as a Chinese restaurant.

Footnote: anyone travelling on the U2 between Potsdamer Platz and Pankow this week may have noticed unusual levels of overcrowding. That hasn't been due to any special events or a sudden upsurge in post-New Year tourism: instead it turns out the BVG has been giving its drivers time off in lieu, meaning they only had enough personnel to maintain a service at a very off-peak interval of 10 minutes.

Posted at 10:23 PM in