Berlin Notes

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

Friday, October 5, 2007

Looking for an unusual piece of property in a central location with a fantastic view? Berlin's TV tower - the second highest structure in Europe - is up for sale by current owners Deutsche Telekom. They're not revealing their asking price, but it's likely to have a fair number of zeros on the end. The tower is also probably not suited to residential use - for safety reasons gas and electric cookers are not allowed, so you'd have to get pizzas sent up to you every day.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Compared to other major cities, it doesn't cost much to get to Berlin's airports by public transport: even the most distant, Schönefeld falls just within the €2.10 AB zone ticket, valid even on the fast Regional Express trains. When the new BBI airport opens at Schönefeld though, it's unlikely that this happy situation will continue.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Knut, the most famous polar bear ever, will be starring in his own film: Potsdam based producers Dokfilm have received €40,000 to make a "docufiction" film about the life and times of the once unbearably cute Knut. The film should be in German cinemas by the end of 2007.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

For updates on the current strike situation, see our entry Rail Strikes situation.

Bad news for rail travellers: one of Germany's rail unions, the GDL, will be going on strike on Friday (October 5). This will affect Deutsche Bahn services at all levels, from ICE trains to Berlin's S-Bahn. Not all train drivers belong to the GDL, and Deutsche Bahn will be attempting to run as many services as possible, but it's likely at least half of all scheduled trains will be cancelled, and massive delays / overcrowding can be expected on many routes.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The UK's Berlin representation is to be headed by a new ambassador, Sir Michael Arthur. He'll be replacing Peter Torry, who is retiring following a four year stint in the Wilhelmstraße.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Tomorrow, Wednesday October 3, is the 17th anniversary of German reunification (Tag der Einheit). It's a public holiday so most shops will be closed, although many flea markets will be open. (For alternative shopping possibilities see our page "Out-of-hours shopping").

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Monday, October 1, 2007

This year's Berlin Marathon was a record breaker: 2006 winner Haile Gebrselassie (Ethopia) took 30 seconds off the world record with a time of just 2:04:26, once again highlighting Berlin's very fast and flat course. Behind him were 40,214 other runners of all ages and nationalities, as well as 10,000 schoolchildren and 9,000 wheeled competitors in separate races.

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Monday, October 1, 2007

Germany has always lagged behind many other countries as far as "protection" of non-smokers goes. Despite the fact that less than 40% of the population are smokers, you get the impression the right to smoke is anchored in Germany's constitution, and anyone wanting to move about in public without getting blasted by rather smelly nicotine has been forced to go out of their way to find fresh air.

Things have improved over the last few years, especially regarding smoking in the workplace. However, places such as restaurants and cafés have traditionally been very reluctant to offer their customers anything more than a token no-smoking area, often just a couple of tables on the way to the toilets with no protection from all those lovely carciogenic fumes. Attitudes have been changing however, and since about 2006 there's been a lively public debate about the introduction of a general ban on smoking.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Noise levels in Berlin

If you're thinking of investing in Berlin, one factor to take into account are noise levels: while the city is one of Europe's less turbulent capitals, certain zones - particularly along the main radial and tangential roads and close to major transport hubs such as airports - suffer from high levels of background noise, which vastly reduces their attractiveness as residential locations.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

2007 is turning out to be a year of sudden price increases, but good news - or at least lack of bad news - in one area: the VBB, the body which oversees public transport in Berlin and Brandenburg, has confirmed that there are no plans to raise prices on public transport in the region in 2007. The next fare rises will definitely take place in 2008 though, once the effects of recent shifts in the cost of energy have been taken into account.

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