Friday, January 12, 2007
Is winter in Berlin a thing of the past? This week saw the highest January temperatures ever recorded, with the thermometer reaching around 15°C on Wednesday. In the surrounding state of Brandenburg the storks - which usually fly south for the winter - have chosen to stay at home. And more exotic creatures can be expected in the region - Berlin's government is planning ahead and will be creating 53 new zebra crossings - partly because they're cheaper to build than traffic-light controlled crossings, although 29 of these will also be built during 2007.
New hope for the fairground ("Spreepark") at Treptower Park? Five students want to re-open the former Western Village as a "Centre for Humans and Nature", a sort of ecological academy. Whether this ambitious plan will remain organic pie in the sky?
And new hope too for Tempelhof Airport: the closure date has definitively been put back a year, until October 2008, and the signs are it will continue operations in some form until the opening of the new international airport at Schönefeld or the end of the universe, whichever occurs first.
The historical Cumberland Hotel building on the Kurfürstendamm - most recently used as government offices, and now largely vacant, is to be revived as a hotel: Orco Property Group is planning its reconstruction, although work probably won't commence until 2008.
And yet another hotel in Berlin is probably not a bad idea: the hotel market is booming, with a record 16 million stays recorded in 2006. The World Cup had a big part in this, but tourism managers are expecting the upwards trend to continue.
One new attraction for all those future Berlin guests is now almost certain to be built: the Riesenrad, a giant ferris wheel akin to the UK's London Eye will be constructed next to the Zoologischer Garten.
Finally, bad and good news from Berlin's nightlife scene: restaurant Blauer Engel ("Blue Angel") in the Schöneberg district, dedicated to Marlene Dietrich and serving meals based on recipies by the great diva herself, is to close following difficulties with its lease. A move to another location is possible but the owner is considering pursuing other activities. Meanwhile, over in Mitte that stalwart of the Berlin club scene, Cookies, has reopened following a two-year hiatus. New location is the Hotel Westin Grand at the crossing Unter den Linden and Friedrichstraße.
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