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Friday, September 1, 2006

Berlin Splitter (4)

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.

The city's airport saga enters a new stage: Tempelhof is now scheduled to close at the end of October 2007. Meanwhile the low-cost carriers - lead by EasyJet - are getting worried about the shiny new Berlin-Brandenburg Airport which is to replace Schönefeld: they fear it will end up costing them too much, and demand the creation of a special cheap'n'cheerful section for people who like to fly without frills.

The railway network's Tempelhof equivalent isZoo Station: not really suitable as a major transport hub, but ended up becoming one anyway due to West Berlin's unusual situation. It finally lost its long-distance traffic in May - to the disgust of many (West) Berliners - but now Deutsche Bahn has announced they will be giving the station a serious makeover in 2007. Possibly this is supposed to be some kind of consolation, or maybe it has something to do with the upcoming elections. Either way it turns out that precise plans and dates are not yet forthcoming: yet another addition to that big pie-in-the-sky of proposed Berlin projects?

Finally, Berlin's prisons are officially overcrowded: the city has capacity for exactly 5121 prisoners but its jails hold about 150 more. (For comparision: the city of New York, with a little over twice Berlin's population, has a prison population of around 60,000). If you're thinking of committing a crime, book in advance.

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