A mixed bag of useless information under the title Berlin-Splitter. In German "Splitter" means literally "splinter" or "fragment", but in this context means, well, "a mixed bag of useless information". A more-or-less weekly column of stuff from the German capital.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

It's the middle of the silly season, what better time to restart the Berlin-Splitter series? Odd stuff from Germany's capital.

You'd think at least the Federal Construction Ministry would get it right - but no, their nice new building in the Invalidenstraße (inauguration year: 1999) is full of problems ranging from insufficient fire protection, ineffective air conditioning and instable structural elements. So the ministry is being repaired at a cost of €25 million (of which nearly €7 million are being spent on "planning and damage management" - nice work when you can get it). At least some of the costs are covered by insurance, but taxpayers will no doubt be stumping up somewhere along the line.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

This week was the high point of the Carnival Season in Germany. If you missed the Parade last Sunday, you probably won't have noticed much of it though: Berlin doesn't really go in for carnival. The only really visible indication of what's called the "fifth season" (fünfte Jahreszeit) citywide was the sudden increased availability of doughnuts at bakeries.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

It's Carnival Season in Germany, although until recently Berlin was largely immune to the sight of Germans in silly hats engaging in what is a very ritualised form of "humour". If you can't resist, or have kids who probably enjoy this sort of thing, check out the carnival parade on Sunday along the Ku'damm.

For a more international outlook on the new year season, mosey on down to the Berlin-Hauptbahnhof (fear not, it's been made safe and no high winds are expected this weekend), which is playing host to Chinese New Year celebrations. Events wil be held on Saturday and Sunday from 2pm onwards, with two dragons of "up to 40 metres in length" prancing about. There'll performances of Chinese boxing, calligraphy lessons, and stalls selling Chinese kitsch craft and decorative articles. We also predict the presence of the inevitable China-Pfanne.

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Friday, February 2, 2007

The warm winter continues: last week's snow has vanished, it's (comparatively) warm, windy and rainy. 

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

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.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Is winter in Berlin a thing of the past? This week saw the highest January temperatures ever recorded, with the thermometer reaching around 15°C on Wednesday. In the surrounding state of Brandenburg the storks - which usually fly south for the winter - have chosen to stay at home. And more exotic creatures can be expected in the region - Berlin's government is planning ahead and will be creating 53 new zebra crossings - partly because they're cheaper to build than traffic-light controlled crossings, although 29 of these will also be built during 2007.

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Friday, January 5, 2007

The Tempelhof Airport saga continues: it looks like the airport's closure date will be put back a year, to October 31, 2008. Personally I don't think they'll ever actually manage to close it... We'll see. Meanwhile, it appears someone has been taking pot shots at Tempelhof's radar tower, a structure erected in 1984 by the US Army. Traces of seven bullet holes were found in the radar tower's outer shielding, although it is not clear when the shots were fired or by whom. German military intelligence is investigating.

More financial scandal: the Technikmuseum (Museum of Transport and Technology) was promised a donation of five million Euros by British millionaire and transport fan Glenn Lacey to buy a plot of land adjacent to the museum. It looks like Mr. Lacey is not actually going to cough up the cash - and for legal reasons too boring to go into here, it looks like Berlin's government will have to scrape together the 5 million from its own meagre resources.

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Snow in Berlin, December 2006A taste of winter: snow hit the city on Thursday, albeit only for a few hours, and melted away during the night. Temperatures are expected to rise towards the New Year, with a high of 10°C predicted for New Year's Day, so don't rush out to buy a sledge just yet.

Talking of winter, it seems we have a new annual event: disagreement between Russian gas supplier Gazprom and at least one former Soviet state through which its pipelines run. Last year it was the Ukraine, this year Belarus. Not so interesting? Well, guess where Germany gets most of its gas supplies from. But not to worry: there should be enough in Germany's gas storage reserves to see us through the winter, which is looking to be on the mild side anyway.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Big news of the week is of course the drama at the Deutsche Oper: a Mozart opera was cancelled because it contained scenes involving the decapitation of various religious figures including the prophet Mohammed. I would like to take this opportunity to point out that we here at this website do not condone the decapitation (whether actual or nur symbolic) of religious leaders, and if you'd like to take that explosives belt off very gently while I take shelter behind this mound of ....BOOM .

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Another week, another Friday: more Berlin-Splitter.

Berlin's largest "brothel", Artemis (link not work safe), (apparently a vast sauna / "wellness" club with very lax clothing rules and a lot of freely circulating ladies near the Messe Berlin), has placed adverts on three BVG buses in Berlin. No-one is in the least shocked.

The Berlin elections are over, thankfully, and all those beautiful posters will soon be disappearing. Gay mayor Klaus Wowereit will be staying in office, but possibly with a different coalition partner. In Pankow every 10th election worker failed to turn up, so the count was delayed by half a day: the district election office will be dealing out fines of up to €1000 to those without a very good excuse.

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