Category

Berlin

The future was there

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Berlin residents must have felt one step closer to the future in the decade before the Cold War ended.  That’s when a 313-metre-long spacecraft materialized in Westend.   East Berlin was building their Palace of the Republic in the 1970s, and the West’s Congress Hall in the Tiergarten — known as the pregnant oyster for its unfortunate shape — was too small. A competition was held to...

Wannsee and the bureaucracy of genocide

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The villa of the Wannsee conference Remembrance Day isn’t observed here in the country that started and lost two World Wars. But Berlin is filled with memorials which commemorate the Twentieth Century’s darkest events. I normally stand alone in my study for the 11am moment of silence. But this year I decided to observe Remembrance Day by visiting the Wannsee villa where Nazi bureaucrats met to...

Berlin with Barney White-Spunner

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Barney White-Spunner (Photo by Millie Pilkington) Berlin has always been a uniquely nonconformist corner of a remarkably orderly country. It was the capital of Prussia, but its rulers preferred to live on its forested outskirts rather than in their palaces on the Spree. It came to symbolize Nazi Germany, but Hitler despised its rebellious, irreverent, freethinking residents. And for more than 40...

Christmas markets in viral times

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There’s still something to ho-ho-ho about A lot of friends have asked me if Christmas in Germany has been cancelled again this year. At first I thought the holidays were under assault by the deeply concerned and undoubtedly caring folk who have harnessed the power of online mobs to make the internet a kinder and gentler safe space. Were shock troops from the Diversity & Inclusion...

Watching films in palaces and prisons

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Berlinale summer screening at Charlottenburg Palace Covid cancelled Berlinale, but summer brought a week of screenings curated from this year’s films. I watched the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize winner last week a short bike ride away at Charlottenburg Palace.  Waiting for darkness to fall It was the second-best place I’ve watched an outdoor film. The best was in Malta. We...

Spandau Citadel

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Spandau Citadel by A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace) – Own work, FAL, Berlin is finally emerging from the pandemic lockdown we’ve been in with increasing forms of severity since mid-December. The biergarten are open, so I guess civilization won’t end just yet.  We can go to shops now, too. And barber shops and indoor dining are open to those who show a same...

Moving to Germany? Bring medicine

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I’ll never forget the first time I got sick in Germany. In Canada, the common cold is a trivial annoyance. Simply trudge to the nearest Shopper’s Drug Mart and buy a bottle of Tylenol Cold, perhaps with a Robitussin chaser for the cough. Put the kettle on that night, sip a mug of NeoCitran with a dash of gin, and achieve a fantastic, un-nose-blocked sleep. You’ll wake the next morning feeling...

The NSA listening post on Devil’s Mountain

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Teufelsberg — ‘Devil’s Mountain’ — is a man made hill that rises 120m above sea level and provides a 360 degree view of flat Berlin and the surrounding Grunewald. The hill was built from an estimated 12 million cubic metres of war rubble, the remains of all those shattered buildings that were left of the city after WWII bombing. They dumped the broken brick and stone over an unfinished Nazi...

Palace walk with lockdown blues

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I took a long walk through the neighbourhood again, partly out of a desire for new sights in a year of lockdown drudgery, and partly as an antidote to irritability caused by too little sleep and too much noise. The long curving low rises of my neighbourhood gave way to a small collection of German and Croatian restaurants, a few pharmacies, an optometrist, and small shops, and then the brick...

The end of hobo chic

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The barber shops reopened in Berlin this week. I’d booked an appointment as soon as I saw it coming, to beat the mad rush of involuntary hippies. And so I set out this morning to put an end to my out-of-control hobo chic. For the wielders of the clipper and comb, it must be a lot like shearing sheep. At a time like this, I’m thankful to have a Welsh barber. Although the guy who mans the front...

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