Look in the Mirror: 3 best Berlin Christmas markets?!

In yesterday’s article ” 3 best Berlin Christmas markets – and our favourite deals to visit on a budget ” the online edition of the Mirror (mirror.co.uk) got something totally wrong. How is this even possible? Let’s have a look in the Mirror:

“Berlin’s Harz region is home to a number of festive-themed markets around Christmas”

Sorry, but the Harz region is not even close to Berlin. According to reliable sources, the Harz region is about 300km west / south-west of Berlin and it takes a good three hour ride by car to get there!

“…one of Berlin’s famous Christmas markets dotted around its mountainous Harz region.”

This leaves me speechless. But it goes on:

“Villages within the Harz Mountains such as Leipzig, Magdeburg and Goslar…”

First of all: yes, Goslar is actually located in the Harz region – but with a population of over 40.000 it can hardly be called a village. Or can it? Anyways. After my honest opinion at least neither Magdeburg (population > 200.000) nor Leipzig (population > 500.000) can be called ‘Village’. Or am I missing something? Do you have villages with airports and universities in the UK? But nevertheless: both cities (villages?!) are approximately half way between Berlin and the Harz region – none of them closer than 100km to Goslar.

Then the article feature three photos. The first one seems to actually show the Leipzig Christmas Market. The other two are – interesting – at least when you look at them within the surrounding context: both showing Berlin Christmas Markets, but with confusing headlines: the picture headlined “Berlin, Magdeburg” shows the Christmas Market at Berlin’s Alexanderplatz – you can clearly see the Berlin TV Tower in the back. The other photo, headlined “Berlin, Goslar” shows the Christmas Market at Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz – the Memorial Church can be seen in the background.

So – what did we learn today? All four cities Leipzig, Magdeburg, Goslar and Berlin do have beautiful Christmas Markets. And so do some Villages within the Harz Mountains. Merry Christmas!

Feel free to read the original article over here:

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Even more Hotels built in Berlin

Berlin tourism seems to be an ever increasing business. As the number of tourists is still increasing, the number of hotels is also. At the moment Berlin has already over 500 hotels, providing over 136.000 beds to tired travelers. That is a relatively high number – at least according to media reports in 2012 Berlin had already some 30.000 more Hotel beds than New York City.

For the next couple of years another 15.000 hotels beds can be added to that number. The German Hotel and Restaurant Association (Dehoga) mentions another 31 hotels to be built in the near future.

Booming Berlin Hotel Business

But the boom in hotel business is does not have a positive effect on all hotels. Smaller, often older houses are facing difficult times since large hotels chains are building massive hotels, beeing able to offer lower rates, basically ‘next door’. Competition is high, even though one should thing there would be a slice of the pie for everybody.

At Berlin-Charlottenburg’s Breitscheidplatz for example the 118 meter high rise “Upper West” is currently under construction. The budget hotel chain Motel One will probably open their doors to some 580 rooms in summer 2017.

On the other hand, the rather small and ‘old’ Hotel President just had to close down in September some 10 – 20 minute walk further down the road. The reasons remain unclear – but charging around 170 Euro per night the Hotel was comparably expensive. And with ‘only’ 180 rooms rather small. Next door another Motel One hotel had just opened – about twice the size, charging half the price. And where prices are low, competition is high.

See also: “Schon 800 Hotels – und 31 sind noch geplant” (tagesspiegel.de)

Checking CNN’s Insider Guide: Best of Berlin

From time to time I enjoy reading what others have to say about Berlin – especially when it’s CNN and especially when the headline reads “Insider Guide: Best of Berlin”. Then I really want to know, what others are recommending, what to do and what to see when visiting Berlin  – and what masses of readers are probably reading.

And then, confronted with an article claiming to offer tips on ‘Best of Berlin’ I also like to check the facts, the details, the recommendations. And sometimes I actually do find minor mistakes. Sometimes a name is misspelled, but sometime things are just wrong. And sometimes the whole article is just questionable, like the list of ‘10 things you can do in Berlin’ I recently had a deeper look at I recently enjoyed reading and commenting.

I know, everybody makes mistakes – but when you claim to ‘know where to look’ you should probably be extra careful about what you’re actually writing. I anyways just have to stare at those mistakes anyways – And since some mistakes are rather cute, or at least ‘interesting’, I’d like to share them with you.

Berlin Fast Food: Currywurst

A minor mistake can be found in the recommendations for food. Yes, Currywurst is a big thing in Berlin – and Konnopke’s Imbiss is probably one of the best known places in Berlin Prenzlauer Berg to get one. But even though the food is really fast food, you should at least take your time to fully spell the name “Konnopke” – not “Knopke” – otherwise your readers might be a bit confused when the search engine tries to suggest the correct name. Anyways.

Shopping: Mulackstrasse boutiques

Yes, the Mulackstrasse does offer a variety of different small shops and fashion boutiques. But where again is it located?

Mitte’s Schönenviertel (it means “beautiful quarter”)

I’m awfully sorry to say, but while Berlin probably actually does have some “beautiful quarters”, the quarter that Mulackstrasse is situated in is officially named “Scheunenviertel“. This may or may not look and sound similar to “Schönenviertel” – it has does however have a completely different meaning: “Scheune” means “barn” – in medieval Berlin the “Scheunenviertel” was the ‘Barn Quarter’. See also: Berlin Sightseeing > Scheunenviertel.

Attractions: Pergamon – Museum on an island

The Pergamon is definitely a museum to visit – no doubt about that. The only problem one should probably mention is that large parts of the museum are currently closed. Since September the museum has been under renovation and will probably still be for the next four to five years. If everything goes well, the museum should re-open in 2019.

Enough nit-picking for now. Please feel free to check out CNN’s “Insider Guide: Best of Berlin” yourself. Have a nice stay!

Berlin Weather in October: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Berlin autumn weather can be difficult, to say the least. For a couple of days the sun might shine, blue skies, no cloud anywhere. And then again it’s like this: the Berlin cloud stays for days and days and the it rains and it’s windy and cold.

Berlin Weather October Autumn rare Sunshine, Zionskirche, Berlin Mitte

Berlin Weather in October – blue skies are rare to find – Zionskirche, Berlin Mitte – Photo: T.Bortels

The beginning of October actually had some nice days. I already hoped we would have a ‘Golden October’ – which would probably translate to Indian Summer. But now the Cloud is back – and the weather forecast does not look pretty at all. On the news they said that there might be some holes in the clouds on the weekend – but I wouldn’t bet on it.

The temperatures are still rather moderate. Only occasionally the temperature drops below 0°C during the night – which would be 32° Fahrenheit. During the day the temperature is somewhere between 5°C and 10°C (40°F – 50°F) but adding rain and wind it does actually feel slightly colder.

But whenever the sun is actually shining, it can be very nice outside. The smell of autumn is back: the combination of coal heating and wet leafs rotting on the ground is the Berlin smell I love. For me it is somehow the beginning of The Berlin Year. Winter is around the corner, but not quite here yet.

So if you are planning to visit Berlin in the coming days, you should probably bring some waterproof clothing with you – and an umbrella could also be a good idea.

Berlin’s two light festivals illuminating the city

This is again a rather typical Berlin story: Berlin now has two light festivals.

Berlin Radio Tower Funkturm - Festival of Lightslights-festival

Berlin Radio Tower Funkturm in blue – Festival of Lightslights-festival – Photo: T.Bortels

Introduced 15 years ago, the ‘original’ Festival of Lights became a huge success. October and November used to be ‘difficult’ for Berlin’s tourism business. But now every year over half a million additional overnight stays bring money to the city in times, when the streets of Berlin used to be rather abandoned.

For an outsider (like me) the development of the light festival situation seems to have some similarities to the development of the art fairs that are held in September. Once success takes control, side projects pop up – and become successful themselves. So besides the Festival of Lights there is now also the festival Berlin leuchtet / Berlin shines.

But is there any difference for the audience? Not really. You will just have to check two schedules, two maps and two festival homepage if you want to find your way through illuminated Berlin in October.

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25 years of German Unity – Deutsche Einheit

I wasn’t so sure what the correct English term would actually be: German Unity? German Unification? German Reunification? Anyways – it’s now 25 years that the once divided two German countries became one. On 03 October 1990 the papers were signed – and that was that.

Such an anniversary is of course also always a good opportunity to look back: what went right? What went wrong? And what could have gone better? These days German Media is of course looking at all that. And I took the opportunity to put up another info-page with basic information about the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

25 Years of German Unity – Photo of East German car Trabbi: Trabant 601s

Typical East German car ‘Trabbi’ Trabant 601s parked in Berlin Mitte – Photo: T.Bortels

25 years of German Unity – blooming landscapes after all?

25 years ago the West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl promised that many people would be better off (not using’ everybody’ probably was on purpose) and that we’ll soon find ‘blooming landscapes’ (Blühende Landschaften) in former East Germany. I should point out that in German that term could also refer to an economic situation – but it doesn’t have to. So today, with many East German factories closed and many people moved away that picture of ‘blooming landscapes’ can also be seen in a different light: nature. And yes, in many areas nature has recovered in East Germany – and it’s beautiful to see.

I grew up near the river Elbe. Back in the days of two Germanys, for us the river was also the border to East Germany. And it was dirty. It was basically poisoned with everything the East German chemical industry had to offer. So we basically had two common jokes: We would approach the river betting what color it would have on that day – pink? Purple? Blue? Sometimes it smelled like chlorine – sometimes worse. The other common joke was, that there would only be two species living in the river Elbe: Eels and Crabs. Each of the species living on the dead bodies of the other.

These times are over – the river has recovered – and is still recovering. And also the banks of Elbe are now finally ‘alive’ again. The walls and fences are down, nature is back – and thanks to the decades of separation most of the areas along the former death strip are now part of a green strip – ‘blooming landscapes’ of a different kind than Helmut Kohl originally thought of 25 years ago.

Berlin Weather in September: the driest, the warmest, the sunniest

Berlin Weather in September was kind of nice, but not too nice. The official statistics point out, that in all of Germany the weather conditions were a bit ‘below’ normal weather conditions: a bit colder and a bit less rain compare to previous year.

Photo: Berlin Sunset – Weather in September

Berlin Sunset – Weather in September: dry, warm and a lot of sunshine – Photo: T.Bortels

Statistically Berlin had in fact a ‘record’ September – at least compared to all other German states. Berlin’s September weather was the driest, the warmest and the sunniest.

Only 35 liters of rain made it to an average Berlin square meter. That is indeed not much if you compare it to the German average of 56 liters per square meter. The temperature however was slightly higher, than in average. Berlin had some rather comfortable 14.4°C / 58°F while Brandenburg had ‘only’ an average temperature of 14°C / 57°F. With almost 170 hours of sunshine Berlin had the most sun of all states in September – the average across Germany was around 137 hours of sunshine.

And: Berlin had some gorgeous sunsets, too. Yes indeed.

Data source: Deutscher Wetterdienst, www.dwd.de

Berlin’s new Observation Deck: the Marzahn Skywalk

Berlin has a new tourist attraction: the Marzahn Skywalk, an observation deck on top of a high rise apartment building in Berlin Marzahn provides an unfamiliar view on Berlin.

From a height of approximately 70 meters the platform offers a view over the east Berlin borough Marzahn Hellersdorf – but basically with good weather conditions you should also be able to see as far as Teufelsberg.

Berlin Observation Deck Skywalk Marzahn

Opening of the new Berlin Observation Deck Skywalk Marzahn – Photo: © Cathrin Bach, Bild und Konzept

Admission / Tickets

The access to the platform is free of charge – but you should make a reservation in advance. You’ll find the related contact information of degewo on their website:
www.degewo.de/content/de/Unternehmen/4-1_Aktuelles/4-1-Aktuelles-2015/Skywalk-Eroeffnung.html or at the office of degewo-Kundenzentrum Marzahn.

Opening Hours

Tuesday: 10.00 – 12.00
Thursday: 14.00 – 16.00
Saturday:  10.00 – 12.00 Uhr

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