Berlin Airlift – a candy bomber pilot’s thoughts about freedom

The Herald (www.heraldextra.com) recently published an article about Candy Bomber Gail Halvorsen who shares his thoughts about freedom. 95 year old Halvorsen was serving as a ‘Rosinenbomber’ pilot back in 1948, supplying West-Berlin with food and goods – and candy bars when Berlin was blocked by russian forces. For the 67th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift Halvorsen will ‘re-enact’ the Airlift in his hometown Orem – planning to  fly over Orem on July 3 and drop candy bars from the plane.

Read the full story over at heraldextra.com:
Candy Bomber shares thoughts about freedom on 67th anniversary of Berlin Airlift

See also this video for a short introduction on the Berlin Airlift and the Candy Bomber Gail Halvorse:

See also:

Kaufhof sold to Canadian Hudson’s Bay

Kaufhof is one of the rather large department store brands Berlin has. Chances are you have already been on one of the Kaufhof shops if you have visited Berlin. There is for example one rather large Kaufhof shop right at Alexanderplatz.

Now Canadian Hudson’s Bay has just bought Kaufhof for 2.8 Billion Euro and told the media, that ‘nothing much’ will change: people will keep their jobs, Berliners will keep their shops. Big news? Not really. But a bit strange anyways, since there has been some buying and selling of Berlin department stores in the recent past.

If I remember correctly first in 2013 the KaDeWe was sold to an Austrian investor “Benko” – then also all Karstadt department stores were sold to the same investor. Just last week the KaDeWe was then again sold to the Italian department store ‘chain’ La Rinascente – and Berliners are a bit concerned about the future of their shopping oasis.

I personally find it a bit strange when people buy and sell shops – but that’s probably just me.

Berlin’s Late Shops and Kiosks: sunday shopping re-thought

Currently an online petition makes its round through Berlins newspapers, Berlin blogs and social media. The initiator claims she wants to ‘save’ Berlin’s Late Shop and Kiosk Culture. But wait – is Berlin’s Late Shop and Kiosk Culture really in danger? Maybe not quite yet. But…

As you might know already Berlin appears to be a bit more liberal towards some aspects of life, than other cities. Bars and clubs are basically allowed to close (or not to close) whenever they like, and Late Shops, Night Shops and Kiosks (“Späti” or “Spätverkauf”) can sell alcohol after regular shops are already closed for the day.

Of course Spätis don’t only sell alcohol. The offer may very from shop to shop – often you’ll find a variety of products for everyday use such as tooth brushes, milk, newspapers – and of course also beer, wine, and the like. But (now it comes) alcohol is not to be sold on sundays and other ‘holy days’ between 7 am. and 4 p.m.. What? Yep. That’s at least what I just learnt. Späties selling drinks, be it beer for a chill in the park, be it sparkling wine for brunch, are risking to be shut down by Berlin’s ‘Ordnungsamt’. But (now it comes) gas stations and ‘Mini Malls’ in train stations are not affected by this law (Berliner Ladenschlussgesetz) and may sell bews all sunday long.

Often local ‘Kiez’ Late Shops are privately owned and run by locals. Some exist for generations – I personally know one legendary late night shop that is run by the grand-son of the original owner. The shop keepers work crazy hours – and sunday shopping is important for ’em – be it alcohol or not.

Now some politician from Berlin’s conservative party CDU are suggesting it would be a good idea not to sell alcohol after 10 p.m. – at all. This would then again also affect gas stations and even fast food stands.

While I am aware that alcohol is actually a drug and may have negative effects on health and social life,  I find it personally highly annoying that ‘they’ think ‘they’ can tell Berlin city when and where to buy and/or drink alcohol. I’m not the type of guy that drinks drinks on sundays – but that’s not the point. I wanna keep my Späti! And I wanna keep my freedom! And I don’t want any conservative party politicians to f**k with that. This is why I signed the petition – and this is why I would recommend you sign it too.

> Save Berlin`s unique and popular Späti-culture! (scroll down for english version)

[ via wirres.net and berliner-zeitung.de ]

Carneval of Cultures Street Parade live stream

This year’s Carneval of Cultures Street Parade just kicked off. Wheather conditions are fine, and the parade currently makes her way through the streets of Berlin-Kreuzberg.

Not in town but still want to see, what the parade looks like? Lucky you: local public radio station Radio1 and local public TV station RBB are both covering the parade with live streams and photo galleries etc. – you’ll find the live streams and more from their website www.radioeins.de and www.rbb-online.de

And then there’a also the Carneval of Cultures Street Festival…

S-Bahn strikes again [update: end of strike]

Almost a bit boring – but still relevant:
Deutsche Bahn train conductors are on strike – again.
And that means that also Berlin’s S-Bahn conductors are on strike – again.

Again: about one thrird of Deutsche bahn trains should be operating – and most of the S-Bahn lines will operate every twenty minutes. But as far as i know – again – the Ringbahn will not be in service.

All other public transport, like Trams, U-Bahn and busses, run by Berlin’s public transport operator BVG,  will be operating ‘as usual’ – again.

Further information about the strike should be (again) available on the homepage of Berlin S-Bahn – although currently the site seems to be down. Or is it just me? Anyways – here’s the link to the page with schedules etc.:
www.s-bahn-berlin.de/bauinformationen/betriebslage.htm

[UPDATE] Surprisingly enough one day after the Deutsche Bahn strike began, it will be over. For how long? Nobody knows – at least for a couple of wekks the radio says. Over the day there may still be irregularisies – but (as the radio noted) from about 7 pm on trains should be operating close to normal – and so should Berlin’s public transport provider S-Bahn.

Berlin rent index 2015

The private residential rental index for Berlin has just been released. Any surprises? Not so much: slowly but surely Berlin’s residential rents are rising.

Apartments are still quite affordable in Berlin – especially if you compare rents paid by Berliners to rents paid in other European capitals. The increase is also still quite modest – but actually the official rent index only covers the ‘known’ rents.

It seems to be difficult to find reliable numbers that would tell more about the actual situation. The average numbers don’t really tell how much a rent can actually increase when tenants change. Rumors are, that in some previous cheaper areas some apartment rents have risen by 50% to 100% .

And what the Berlin rent index 2015 also does not tell is how difficult it actually can be to a) find an affordable apartment and b) be the one who can actually sign the contract and move in. But maybe that’s a different story anyways.

However – if you would like to have an insight into the ‘official’ interpretation, then you may check either of the following pages:

Mietspiegelabfrage

You ‘just’ need to enter your address, the year the building was built and the size of your apartment and the tool will spit out the average rent paid for a comparable apartment:
www.stadtentwicklung.berlin.de/wohnen/mietspiegel/index.shtml

Wohnlagenkarte

a map showing Berlin residental areas colored in three categories: above average (red), average (orange) and below average (yellow):
www.stadtentwicklung.berlin.de/wohnen/mietspiegel/de/wohnlagenkarte.shtml

Conclusion

As far as I can see Berlin residential rents vary between approximately €4,- and €8,- depending on the areas and the condition of the apartment / building. Or in other words: a coal heated one room apartment in Köpenick is probably still cheaper than a roof top loft with a view in Mitte. News? You decide.

Berlin S-Bahn on strike again

The good news first: since today the North-South S-Bahn tunnel is back in operation.

The bad news: this week Berlin’s S-Bahn drivers are on strike again. This means that only about 30% of all S-Bahn trains will be operating between Tuesday, May 5th and Sunday, May 10th.

During that time period, the ring is closed – no S-Bahn in operation. Instead most of the other lines will be in operation, mostly on a 20 minute schedule.

All other public transport, like Trams, U-Bahn and busses, run by Berlin’s public transport operator BVG,  will be operating ‘as usual’ – which means vehicles might be quite crowded and you should probably calculate a couple of minutes on to of your ‘normal’ travelling plans.

Further details can be (again) found on the homepage of Berlin S-Bahn:
www.s-bahn-berlin.de/bauinformationen/betriebslage.htm

Berlin First of May / Walpurgis Night

On friday it’s again the First of May – and the night before it’s Walpurgis Night. And just like in many german and european communities both are celebrated in Berlin. However – you might have heard already that Walpurgis Night and especially First of May have a bit their own ‘rituals’. I’ll try to explain a bit about it – and later I’ll add a page about Berlin First of May and Berlin Walpurgis Night to the info pages.

First I should probably say that on First of May some areas are not quite safe. There are not really any no-go areas – but instead there is a strange tradition of having riots in the streets of Berlin – especially in Kreuzberg – but also in some areas of Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte. But who is rioting? And why? Hard to say.

Berlin’s First of May Riots

As far as I know it all started back in the kate eighties (May 1st 1987) when a peaceful public neighbourhood party at Kreuzberg’s Lausitzer Platz  got overrun by police – and people reacted not quite amused. Police actually decided they had to withdraw from Kreuzberg. Since then at least for police forces Kreuzberg can be a ‘difficult’ terrain to go – at least on First of May.

The best place to go nowadays on First of May would probably be the so called MyFest (www.myfest36.de) in Kreuzberg. Over the years people got sick and tired of all the rioting and the best alternative seems to be to have – again – a peaceful neighbourhood party. So there will be some stages with live bands playing and for sure there’s gonna be some street food to snack. But anyways – be aware there can be complications.

Walpurgis Night in Berlin

Further information on Walpurgis Night traditions:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walpurgis_Night