Berlin Notes

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

Friday, March 2, 2007

Actually two words, and they're celebrating 100 days in office today: "Rot-Rot" (red-red) refers to Berlin's governing coalition, made up of two parties who both use red as their identifying colour. That's the SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, Germany's main social democratic / left-of-centre party), and the Linkspartei (Party of the Left, which is an uneasy alliance between the former PDS - the successor to East Germany's communist party - and left-wing elements of the SPD who were unsatisfied with their party's increasingly centrist leanings in recent years).

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Friday, March 2, 2007

On Thursay, March 8, Kulturkaufhaus Dussmann will be hosting "English Readings: British Authors at the KulturKaufhaus" featuring authors from the current British literature scene. On the schedule are: Peter James, who'll be reading from his novel "Looking Good Dead"; Roger Boyes, Berlin correspondent of the London Times ("My dear Krauts - Wie ich die Deutschen entdeckte"); and William Boyd ("Restless"). The event starts at 4.30pm; entrance is free. There'll also be an après-reading party with free drinks.

More details in English available here , and in German on the Kulturkaufhaus site here.

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Thursday, March 1, 2007

You'll meet this word a lot when using public transport: Kurzstrecke literally means "short stretch" or "short distance" and is used to indicate a special fare for especially short journey. In Berlin a Kurzstrecke-ticket (Kurzstreckenfahrschein) for the public transport system is available at about half the price of the standard 2-hour ticket, but only entitles you to travel three stops by U-Bahn or S-Bahn, or six stops by bus or tram (here with no changing allowed). Taxis also have a Kurzstreckentarif - a €3.50 flat fare for trips of up to 2km (but only if you flag the taxi down on the street, not from a taxi rank).

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Thursday, March 1, 2007

From March 7th, travel by taxi in Berlin will become more expensive - but it's the first fare increase since 2001, and has been long overdue - operating costs, especially fuel prices, have risen massively in the intervening period. On average fares will rise by around 7-10%.

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Thursday, March 1, 2007

The eastern district of Lichtenberg previously hasn't featured much on Berlin's nightlife map. That might (or might not) be changing with the opening of a new club, Electro-Kohle not far from Lichtenberg Station. Opening night is Friday from 11pm. More infos:

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Berlin court has decided that a German of Egyptian origin, Reda Seyam, can legally call his son "Dschihad" - the German spelling of Jihad. The bloke in question appears to be a bit of a holy warrior - in a recent TV documentary called "Der Gotteskrieger und seine Frau" (link, German) he praised the Taliban and defended the practice of stoning unfaithful women.

Evidently his disgust at German society doesn't go as far as rejecting its material benefits: apparently he and his wife along with their five other children live on "Hartz IV" unemployment benefit.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

They're the bane of every driver suffering from Bleifuß: speed traps. In Berlin these are usually mobile units on tripods, manned by a couple of policepersons and set up at random locations throughout the city to keep drivers on their toes, or at least with their toes hovering over the brake pedal.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bleifuß - "lead foot" (that's "lead" in the sense of the heavy, poisonous metal) sounds like a terrible thing to be afflicted by. It's certainly common amongst Germany's drivers, who usually suffer from it in their right foot, which causes it to fall heavily onto the accelerator (gas pedal) and drive at high speeds.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Berlin's flagship department store, the Kaufhaus des Westens is celebrating its 100th anniversary on Thursday (March 1). To mark the event there will be a party - open to everyone - with Sekt and a 6.5 metre (about 20 feet) high cake weighing 1.5 tonnes.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

The GDR is fast disappearing from Berlin's cityscape. If you want to get an impression of what East Berlin looked like before the Wall came down, check out the upcoming exhibition "East Berlin - The Last Decade" (German title: Berlin-Ost. Das letzte Jahrzehnt) at the Linden-Center out in Hohenschönhausen showing photos of everyday life between 1979 and 1989 by Thomas Uhlemann.

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