Berlin Notes

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

Monday, January 1, 2007

A follow-on to the note about the gas situation mentioned here: happily Belarus (known in German as Weißrußland) and Gazprom have struck a deal, and any lingering worries about the non-existent threat to gas supplies can be laid to rest. Spiegel Online International has a nice overview of the gas situation regarding Russia, Germany and the countries inbetween. 

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Snow in Berlin, December 2006A taste of winter: snow hit the city on Thursday, albeit only for a few hours, and melted away during the night. Temperatures are expected to rise towards the New Year, with a high of 10°C predicted for New Year's Day, so don't rush out to buy a sledge just yet.

Talking of winter, it seems we have a new annual event: disagreement between Russian gas supplier Gazprom and at least one former Soviet state through which its pipelines run. Last year it was the Ukraine, this year Belarus. Not so interesting? Well, guess where Germany gets most of its gas supplies from. But not to worry: there should be enough in Germany's gas storage reserves to see us through the winter, which is looking to be on the mild side anyway.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Berlin has round-the-clock public transport, and never more so than on New Year's Eve (German: Sylvester), when half the city is on the move to throw fireworks at the other half. All U-Bahn and S-Bahn lines will be running through the night, as well as the bus and tram night lines.

The S-Bahn will be running trains at 20 minute intervals through the night, with trains at 10 minute intervals on the lines S1, S25, S3 and S41/42 (ring line) until around 3am. Lines S45 and S85 will not operate.

The U-Bahn will be operating on the normal Sunday timetable with trains at ten minute intervals until around midnight; after midnight until 8am on January 1st they will be running approximately every 15 minutes, except for lines U12, U2, U6 and U9, which will continue at 10 minute intervals.

All bus and tram night lines will be running (with the exception of bus lines N1-N9, which follow the U-Bahn lines with the same number, except for N2, which will run between Zoo and Hackescher Markt). The 24-hour "Metro" bus and tram lines (route numbers beginning with "M") will also be running, with more frequent service than usual on the most important routes.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's been almost five years since the Euro was introduced, and after a transitional period of just two months it replaced Germany's much-loved D-Mark entirely. But there are still vast amounts of Deutschmark notes and coins in circulation - €14 billion or so according to the Bundesbank, hiding away in pockets, drawers, boxes and jars of small change brought home by tourists.

Fortunately for D-Mark hoarders, the old currency can still be exchanged for Euro, with this year alone over 200 million D-Mark being swapped for Europe's new money.

Should you find yourself with some old D-Mark, our page "Spend your DM" provides some information on how to spend it or change it to Euros.

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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Every 18 months or so there are a few weeks of controversy as the politicians and the various public transport companies (BVG, S-Bahn, Deutsche Bahn and every little bus company in the state of Brandenburg) battle it out with one another to see who can get the best deal: the transport companies always want more money, of course, while the politicians want to keep the inevitable fare rises (there are rarely fare reductions) as low as possible.

This time round the politicians seem to have won and the new fare prices, to come into effect in April 2007, are barely changed from the existing ones. A standard 2-hour ticket for zones A/B (i.e. within the Berlin city limits) will remain at €2.10, while a monthly ticket will rise from €67 to  €70. If bought annually, the price will not change however.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

From January 1st 2007 the current rules on shop opening / closing hours will be relaxed considerably, meaning that shops and stores can more-or-less choose their own opening times, at least from Monday to Saturday. Sunday closing will remain the rule with the current system of four city-wide Sundays (verkaufsoffene Sonntage) with limited opening being permitted each year, although additionally shops may open on a further two Sundays of their choice.

Although most shops now open until the currently permitted latest closing time of 8pm, it looks like only the larger department stores and some of the more central shopping centres / malls will extend their opening hours, generally until 10pm.

For more information on general opening hours see our guide "Shopping in Berlin"; and for shopping outside of the usual opening hours see our page on "Out-of-hours shopping".

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Monday, October 2, 2006

The hottest news from Berlin's Flohmarkt scene...

There's a new flea market near Berlin-Gesundbrunnen station; see here for details: Flea Market at Gesundbrunnen Station.

On tomorrow's public holiday (Tuesday, 3rd October), the Antikmarkt Berlin-Ostbahnhof is holding a "Riesenflohmarkt" (mega flea market) open to private traders; over 400 are expected. Some more info in German here.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Big news of the week is of course the drama at the Deutsche Oper: a Mozart opera was cancelled because it contained scenes involving the decapitation of various religious figures including the prophet Mohammed. I would like to take this opportunity to point out that we here at this website do not condone the decapitation (whether actual or nur symbolic) of religious leaders, and if you'd like to take that explosives belt off very gently while I take shelter behind this mound of ....BOOM .

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

A quick warning which may affect your shopping plans over the next few days: Sunday October 1st is a verkaufsoffener Sonntag in Berlin, which means shops are allowed to open. Generally the shopping centers / malls and the department stores will be open, as well as many of the shops in the main shopping areas.

There's no silver lining without the matching cloud however: Tuesday October 3rd is Tag der Einheit ("Unification Day"), which is a public holiday, meaning all shops, banks etc. will be closed. The only exceptions will be those with special permission to open outside of the general rules: see ourguide to out of hours shopping for details.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Swiss parfumiers LesNez Parfums d'Auteurs have written to say they are holding a perfume presentation and trial tomorrow (Saturday, September 23 from 2pm - 5pm) at the Grand Hotel Esplanade, presenting the latest creations by Isabelle Doyen from Annick Goutal. She will also be demonstrating some of the materials and ingredients used in perfume production.

Entrance is free; it's an informational event so there's no selling involved.

Further details (in German) available here.

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