Berlin Notes

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

Thursday, September 7, 2006

The creator of the Multiverse, Terry Pratchett will be in Berlin on Tuesday September 12 to promote his lastest Disc World book Klonk!. He'll be reading from it (in English of course, though Klatchian is a possibility) at the Renaissance-Theater at Hardenbergstrasse 6, beginning at 8pm. Tickets are available by telephone at (030) 312 42 02.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2006

It was supposed to be finished in 2007 - the ceremony marking the beginning of construction took place at midday Tueday. Yes, Berlin's new airport - Berlin-Brandenburg International, to be built at the site of the existing Schönefeld Airport, is finally officially under construction.

Delays in planning, financing, the odd bit of dodgy corruption and lawsuits from noise-plagues residents all combined to prevent the airport from being built to anything like the original schedule. The opening date is now tentatively set for 2011, but don't worry too much about keeping your diary open for the opening ceremony: all bets are on further delays.

This does however mean one shorter term to Berlin's airports: Tempelhof is scheduled to close in 2007, now that a replacement is in sight.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2006

One thing Berlin is not short of is hotels: and most of them are pretty boring. Or worse: expensive and boring. So it was nice to hear about the Rock'n'Roll Herberge: a small establishment with just eight rooms, located at the heart of Kreuzberg's SO36. As the name implies: rock'n'roll is the hotel's theme. The facade is graced by Austrian rocker Falco, Joe Strummer from the Clash and AC/DC's Bon Scott. Each room is decorated individually, with eclectic styles including a 1970's interior, a Zen room with an "Asian" look, and one room has a jumping guitarrist. Note that not all rooms have their own bathrooms: one exception is the Honeymoon Suite, which has its own shower and also a decor for which the words "red" and "blood" were an important inspiration.

Rock'n'Roll's target audience is - wait for it - bands on tour. Partly for that reason they've build their own "indestructible" beds. The neighbours have been assured that all windows are soundproof. Prices are aimed at a clientel who couldn't afford to throw too much equipment into the hotel's swimming pool even if it had one - a single room with shared bathroom is just €25 a night.


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Sunday, September 3, 2006

It's hard to believe right now, but according to RBB in the three months between June and August Berlin was Germany's hottest city, with an average temperature of 21.2°C, beating the much more southwesterly Freiburg (21.1°C) and Heidelberg (20.7°C). Despite the inclemently cool August that puts the average temperature 2°C over the long-term average, and July was the hottest month since records began in 1900.

For more information on Berlin's climate, see our Climate and Weather page.

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Friday, September 1, 2006

It's Friday, it's raining, time for some more Berlin factlets of little import to the world at large.

Summer's officially over (in case you hadn't noticed) - at least for open air swimmers. Most of the municipal Freibäder (open-air swimming pools) have now closed for the winter. For those brave souls who enjoy swimming in the rain the pools at Kreuzberg and Olympia Stadium will remain open until the 10th, and Strandbad Wannsee is open right through September. After that you'll have to find your own lake, and possibly something to break the ice with.

For some warmth on the water there's always the sauna obscura on the Weißensee: a floating sauna with a built-in camera obscura which projects pictures from the outside onto the sauna's walls. Apparently it's some kind of art project, but it's open to anyone. Daily 12 - 9 pm until October 29, entrance €5, bring your own towel. Some photos here.

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

It's confusing enough having the Oktoberfest in September, but Berlin - being the innovative, forward-looking powerhouse of cool that it is, is having one beginning on the last day of August. That's right, today. Beginning at 6pm outsite the Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall) with the cermonial spiking of a 100 litre cask of beer. For those not willing to brave the Berlin summer weather, there's a tent with a 2,500 capacity. Experts predict the presence of large amounts of pretzels and white sausages as well as copious volumes of wheat beer. Lederhosen are not compulsory. The fun lasts for an entire week - get it while you can.

Top Tip: Bavarian beer is available from any decent Berlin Supermarket - you can hold an Oktoberfest in the privacy of your own home at any time of the year.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bad news for small airlines operating mainly turboprop aircraft, good news for residents of Neukölln and Kreuzberg: it's apparently finally officially irrevocably decided: Tempelhof Airport will close its doors to all air traffic on October 31, 2007. The authorities have been trying to shut it down for years, arguing that two airports are enough, but all sorts of legalities have been getting in the way.

I wouldn't be surprised if something gets in the way of that date though - Tempelhof has been declared "dead" so often it's taken on an almost zombie-like existence. My money's on the sudden discovery of a unique species of kerosine-eating beetles which can only exist on the drops of fuel emitting from taxiing aircraft, forcing operations to continue until an expensive project to resettle them to another airport can be carried through.

In other airport news, the contract for the construction of a rail link from the Berlin-Hauptbahnhof to the new airport ("Berlin-Brandenburg International") to be constructed at Schönefeld has been signed. The link should be finished by the new airport's scheduled opening date in 2011, although the way things work round here I wouldn't expect the opening ceremony much before 2018.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Schönefeld Airport's main attraction is its role as a low-cost airlines hub. Unfortunately it's also a fair slog from the city centre, as anyone flying in for one of Berlin's frequent exhibitions and shows such as the IFA soon finds out.

So for anyone not willing to navigate the (actually quite good) train system, or risk a conversation with one of Berlin's many friendly taxi drivers, or is just in a hurry, Germanwings is testing a helicopter shuttle service from the airport to the Messegelände, with a flight time of just 5 (yes, five) minutes. Prices begin from €29, which compares well to the price of a taxi.

If successful, the shuttle service will be continued for other major exhibitions.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006


In case you didn't know, Spekulatius is a kind of cinnamon-flavoured biscuit popular at Christmas time in Germany (and according to this site in Holland too). With just four months to go to the big event, my local supermarket is getting into the swing of things with this pile of seasonally decorated spekulatius displayed prominently at the entrance.

It won't be long now until the first Berliners have their Christmas lights up in their windows.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday again: time for some more useless Berlin information.

Some good news for the local aviation industry: in May Berlin's three airports have between them processed more than 20,000 flights with around 1.7 million passengers: a record.

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