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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Berlin-Splitter (12)

Event of the week was hurricane "Kyrill", which swept across Europe on Thursday and Friday, uprooting trees and taking off roofs and generally making a mess. There were no casualties and comparatively little damage in Berlin - dire warnings from the authorities encouraged many people to stay at home, and while maximum wind speed hit 146 kmh in the southeastern district of Adlershof, the full force of the storm was not quite as intense as had been predicted. However, there was drama a-plenty at the Berlin-Hauptbahnhof - a steel girder weighing nearly two tonnes fell of the facade of one of the newly-constructed office buildings which straddle the station onto some steps. No-one was hurt, but the station was closed until midday Friday for safety checks.

Another controversial building has also been in the news yet again - the East Berlin Palast der Republik, which is being dismantled, is costing yet more money. Several companies which took part in the asbestos removal successfully sued the German government to recover unexpected additional costs they incurred: altogether 15 million Euros are at stake. With all the delays and whatever, expected date for completion of demolition is now expected to be the end of 2008, rather than April of this year.

Better news from the DDR Museum (GDR Museum) (GDR Museum) just across the road: it announced that in the six months since opening, it has received over 80,000 visitors, in line with the operators' plans. And more positive figures from Berlin's airports: 2006 was the best year yet, with 18.5 million passengers, up 1.3 million from 2005. Even then, that only accounts for a 10% share of the German air market: not a lot for the capital city of Europe's largest economy.

Berlin does lead the way in another field though: it has the highest rate of people on social security in the whole of Germany, with an average of 2.4 recipients per thousand population. And in an other area it keads the world: the city's zoos have completed their annual census, and with 14,047 animals in the Zoo and 8,723 in the Tierpark it has the best-stocked zoos of the planet.

Finally, further movement in shop opening times: book and media specialist Kulturkaufhaus Dussmann in the Friedrichstra├če, which had been opening to 2am and all night Friday, will now be opening "only" until midnight daily from Monday to Saturday, with night opening on special occasions.

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