Berlin Notes

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Crop Circles in the Tiergarten? Have space aliens been doing their dastardly business in Berlin's Central Park?

(With apologies to the Hauptstadtblog)

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

If you've arrived here because you're wondering why BBC World has disappeared from DVB-T in Berlin: see this entry.

When I was little, back in a dim and distant place called the Seventies, television was a comparatively simple affair. On the one my parents had there was a dial which did duty both as the volume control and as an on-off switch, and another dial for selecting the channel, much like you do on a radio - so simple even a child someone over thirty could understand how to work it. The thing with tuning in via a dial might sound a little fiddly, but bear in mind there were just three channels and a fair portion of the programming consisted of something called the "test signal", so "zapping" was not really a thing you'd want or need to do. Oh yes, the broadcasts were in colour but more often than not the TV set was not.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

No, not that U2. The other one, Berlin'sU-Bahn line 2, which normally runs betweenPankow andRuhleben. It seems that a section of bridge over a century old betweenGleisdreieck and Bülowstraße is no longer as young and sprightly as it once was and will have to be replaced, putting that section of line out of action from August 18 2006 to ca. March 21, 2007.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Ostkreuz Station in Berlin If you've ever use the S-Bahn in the eastern side of Berlin, you'll have probably made your acquaintance with Ostkreuz (literally: Eastcross), the connecting station between the Stadtbahn and the eastern side of the Ringbahn. Despite being Berlin's busiest station (with around 100,000 passengers daily) it is - literally - falling apart, and has been that way for more than half a century. It's been patched up where absolutely necessary, and there have been many plans to rebuild it, but because of the complex nature of the station and its role as a major hub in eastern Berlin's S-Bahn network neither the East German Reichsbahn nor its successor Deutsche Bahn have managed to do any construction work apart from putting together some very impressive models.

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Monday, August 7, 2006

If you're an EU citizen resident in Berlin for more than three months, you'll probably have received a Wahlbenachrichtigung (election notice) from your local Bezirksamt (borough office). If not you've probably noticed the sudden plague of posters infesting most lampposts bearing the grinning countenances of pathological liars politicians and would-be politicians and their meaningless slogans.

Yes - it's election time.

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Sunday, August 6, 2006

Schlauchomat (Inner Tube Vending Machine) in Steglitz, Berlin This week "other commitments" have, alas, prevented me from that most pleasurable of online activities, blogging. On the other hand I have been spending a lot of time in that most delectably vibrant of Berlin neighbourhoods, Steglitz, where I was delighted to find this inner tube vending machine, aka Schlauchomat. Just the thing for when you find yourself with a flattie outside of Bicycle Shop Opening Hours and are stuck for rubber.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006

The Reichstag's cupola, a popular tourist attraction, will be closed to the public on weekdays from August 7 to August 18 for repairs. It will be open as usual on weekends, and the roof terrace and restaurants will be open the whole time.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Well, it's Friday, which means time for some more Berlin Splitter.

First some good news for the German supermarket industry: Walmart is pulling out of Germany, citing continual losses as the reason. And good riddance too. Aldi is good enough for us Old Europeans. The stores have been sold to the Metro Group and will likely be integrated into the Real chain.

If you're still looking for a bargain though, the Tierheim (animal rescue place) has a cut-price deal on cats: until August 6 new and used pussies will cost €20 instead of €80. vaccinations and de-worming included. Apparently over 600 moggies are waiting for a new Dosenöffner (opener of cans, as German cat-owners refer to themselves).

According to new statistics Berlin's busiest shopping street, the Tauentzienstrasse, ranks at number 10 for pedestrian frequency: with fewer than 9,000 passers-by per hour it trails a long way behind Cologne's Hohe Straße with over 17,000 shoppers an hour and is even beaten by Mannheim's "Planken" (whatever that is). (What the study doesn't take into account though is Berlin's very decentral nature: unlike the provincial in the list, Berlin has no one main centre, with areas such as the Friedrichstraße and Potsdamer Platz vying for shopper's euros).

Talking of Potsdamer Platz, the IMAX cinema (Discovery Channel IMAX Theater) will be closing on Saturday - due to either financial difficulties of its management company, and / or disagreements with the building's owner, Daimler-Chrysler. The spherical auditorium is to be turned into a musical theatre, although it's not clear how. (Note that the other IMAX cinema, in the Sony Center, is not affected by this).

Another bulding with a spherical element, the Reichstag, is not in danger of immanent closure and has according to recently released statistics recently registered its 3 millionth visitor.

And finally: if the Reichstag sounds too crowded for you, check out the Tierpark Berlin's late night special: tonight it will remain open until midnight, with special illuminations and music, and also a lot of rather hot animals.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

It's Thursday, which means the weekend is in sight, which - if you believe the ancient German motto Freitag ab eins macht jeder seins - begins on Friday afternoon. And what better way to kick off hot weekend than with a visit to the 46th German-American Volksfest Berlin, which kicks off at 4pm in Zehlendorf (Dahlem) on the site of a former US Army barracks.

This year's theme is New Mexico and there'll be a New Mexican Village Main Street with impressions of Santa Fe and the Wild West and a 800 m² "White Sands Desert" with cacti, rattlesnakes and other wild animals providing a "real desert feeling". There will of course be the usual fairground attractions.

The Volksfest runs from July 28 - August 20 and is open Sunday - Wednesday 2pm - 11pm, and on Fridays / Saturdays 2pm - midnight. Admission is €1.50, children unter 14 free. Wednesdays are "Familiy-Day" with half price rides, Thursdays have a "Happy Hour" from 2 pm until 7pm with reduced prices and Fridays is "Ladies Day" with 1 € rides and drinks for women. Check out the website for further details.

U-Bahn: Oskar-Helene-Heim (Station) (U3); Bus: X10, M11, 110, 115, 285, 623, N3, N10

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Book for Bush While wandering through the Thalia bookstore in my localshopping centre I came across the display of the Book for Bush. A project by Swiss media / artist people Boris Zatko and Comenius Röthlisberger, aka soweitsogut, it makes it possible for anyone to send a message to the USA's current head honcho, Mr. Bush. . For a payment of US$2 for up to 200 characters (letters), and US$0.01 for every 5 characters thereafter, the messages will be printed in a leather-bound book and presented to Mr. Bush one year before the end of his presidential term (a copy will also be presented to the US Library of Congress).

I'm tempted to write a missive myself, probably something along the lines of "if you're so frightened of the terrorists, why are you building your new Berlin embassy in such an exposed central location near to the Brandenburg Gate and right opposite the Tiergarten (lots of trees for snipers to hide in)?"

Whatever, the book's binding is on display togehter with some informational material in the Thalia bookshop in the Schönhauser Allee Arcaden until August 5.


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