Archive for the ‘Berlin’ Category

AirBnB bookings fall off a cliff

April 9, 2020

With cities in lockdown, airports closed, borders closed, airlines grounded, bookings dried up, AirBnB hosts are bleating at having to refund bookings.

Sorry, we should not feel.

AirBnB is an unregulated sector, it is destroying cities, people being driven out of cities as apartments are let on AirBnB.

AirBnB is not the myth they would like us to believe, someone letting out a room occasionally, or maybe their home when they go away. It is apartments being bought, often whole apartment blocks, tenants evicted, or forced out by high rents. These are the people complaining, who are losing money, who are now trying to offload their properties onto the market.

AirBnB hosts would be operating illegally (nothing new there). Cyprus is in lockdown, hotels not allowed to open. Athens in lockdown, need a permit to go out, which has to be applied for.

EasyJet and other airlines grounded.

Airlines have to refund within seven days, tour companies within fourteen days. Why do AirBnB think they are the exception? Once again shows this sector must be regulated.

AirBnB greed, greedy hosts.

If AirBnB fails, excellent news. It is destroying cities with unregulated lets, driving tenants out of city centres.

With the country in lockdown, police and politicians and NHS staff are pleading with people to stay home, not visit the countryside, coastal resorts, police roadblocks in place, AirBnB is encouraging flouting of the lockdown by offering lets in the very places encouraged not to visit.

Hywel Williams a North Wales MP has called on AirBnB to “identify and delete” any home owners found advertising properties on their site as “Covid-19 retreats”.

Plaid Cymru’s Hywel Williams claims the online platform was guilty of “inexplicable and reckless inaction” after some holiday homes were offered up as safe bolt holes from the coronavirus outbreak sweeping the UK.

The Arfon MP says a number of properties across Snowdonia are still listed on AirBnB as available to rent ahead of the Easter weekend – and almost two weeks after the Government introduced laws to put the UK into lockdown in a bid to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

There were also reports of homes being let to tourists via AirBnB in Denbighshire and Anglesey.

There should be no bailout of AirBnB properties. Any rescue package would be to make the properties available to homeless, then let as social housing.

AirBnB is a zombie company kept alive on unsustainable debt. It has followed the route of too many zombie companies, hype to artificially inflate the value, vulture capitalists pour in money to inflate still further, then dump on the stock market for unsuspecting mugs to buy shares before the company is found to be worthless. AirBnB has been found out before it could dump on the stock market.

Contrast with FairBnB, which not only works with the local community, supports projects in the local community.

Berlin Wall Potsdamer Platz

February 17, 2020

At Potsdamer Platz can be found a few small remaining pieces of the Berlin Wall.

One section covered in graffiti, a slightly longer section with information about the Berlin Wall.

Worth visiting, The Barn Potsdamer Platz, housed in Haus Huth, the only pre-war building remaining in Potsdamer Platz.

MauerSkulpturen

January 6, 2020

Sculpture by Eberhard Foest depicting the Berlin Wall outside the Finance Ministry in Mitte on the East German side of the Berlin Wall.

Rosa Luxemburg Platz

December 26, 2019

A Plaza named after the German-Polish revolutionary Marxist philosopher and writer Rosa Luxemburg.

Freiheit ist immer nur Freiheit des anders Denkenden  — Rosa Luxemburg

A strange sculpture in the square, no idea what it is. 

In the ground long strips, with words of Rosa Luxemburg or tributes to her. 

A little way off from the square, a statue of Rosa Luxemburg around the back of a radical publisher. 

Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of a party - however numerous they may be - is no freedom at all. Freedom is always the freedom of the one who thinks differently. Not because of the fanaticism of “justice”, but rather because all that is instructive, wholesome, and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effects cease to work when “freedom” becomes a privilege.

Rosa Luxemburg (1871–1919) was awarded a PhD at a time when few women went to university, reputed to speak eleven languages. She was opposed to the First World War for which she spent time in prison. She was murdered by German soldiers, her body thrown into the canal. 

Her thoughts on democracy are apropos today as they were when she wrote them, when we see how the recent General Election has been perverted by a corrupt media and facebook.

Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. Public life gradually falls asleep, a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless experience direct and rule. Among them, in reality only a dozen outstanding heads do the leading and an elite of the working class is invited from time to time to meetings where they are to applaud the speeches of the leaders, and to approve proposed resolutions unanimously – at bottom, then, a clique affair – a dictatorship, to be sure, not the dictatorship of the proletariat but only the dictatorship of a handful of politicians, that is a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense, in the sense of the rule of the Jacobins (the postponement of the Soviet Congress from three-month periods to six-month periods!) Yes, we can go even further: such conditions must inevitably cause a brutalization of public life: attempted assassinations, shooting of hostages, etc.

Her last known words written on the evening of her murder were about her belief in the masses and what she saw as the inevitability of a triumphant revolution.

The contradiction between the powerful, decisive, aggressive offensive of the Berlin masses on the one hand and the indecisive, half-hearted vacillation of the Berlin leadership on the other is the mark of this latest episode. The leadership failed. But a new leadership can and must be created by the masses and from the masses. The masses are the crucial factor. They are the rock on which the ultimate victory of the revolution will be built. The masses were up to the challenge, and out of this “defeat” they have forged a link in the chain of historic defeats, which is the pride and strength of international socialism. That is why future victories will spring from this defeat.

Order prevails in Berlin! You foolish lackeys! Your “order” is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will “rise up again, clashing its weapons,” and to your horror it will proclaim with trumpets blazing: I was, I am, I shall be!

Paul Mason draws on the writing of Rosa Luxemburg in Postcapitalism.

Winds of Change

July 24, 2019

Very moving BBC Radio 4 documentary on Winds of Change how it came to be written, impact on people’s lives, interwoven with East Berlin and fall of Berlin Wall, and hopes of people in Soviet Union.

Meant a lot to me as at Checkpoint Charlie in May, walked along a stretch of the Berlin Wall, was in East Berlin.

Also Rudolf Schenker of Scorpions a friend.

Had me in tears.

A pity BBC did not play song in full, spine chilling.

For me chilling to walk along the Berlin Wall, to visit Checkpoint Charlie.

Inspiration for Winds of Change was a peace concert in Moscow, and Perestroika under Mikhail Gorbachev.

When the Berlin Wall fell, people across Europe had hope.

Now we have a thuggish state in Russia headed by Vladimir Putin, rise of Fascism across Europe, political show trials in Spain.

Berlin 70

May 13, 2019

Sunday 12 May, seventy years ago marked the end of the Berlin Airlift.

At the end of the war, Germany was occupied and divided by the Allies, British Sector, American Sector, French Sector and Russian Sector.

Berlin was similarly divided.

Soviet Union declared their sector as East Germany, Berlin was cut off within East German.

Berlin was then physically cut off, the Berlin Blockade.

The Allies airlifted food and fuel to Berlin, one plane landing every three minutes for nearly a year. The largest airlift in history.

The first Soviet Cold War confrontation with the West which led to the formation of NATO.

As part of the celebrations Taxi Charity took RAF Veterans to Berlin and ferried them around in London taxis.

Thoughts on Berlin

May 13, 2019

EasyJet flight London to Berlin, less than an hour and a half.

Initial reaction on landing at Berlin Tegal Airport not good, indeed dire.

No proper signposting, then when finally get outside to catch the airport bus, smokers blowing smoke in ones face.

Catch airbus bus, when I alight at Ernst-Reuter-Platz no sign of metro station. Had I alighted at correct stop?

I stopped off at Balzac Coffee at Ernst-Reuter-Platz. I needed wifi. Staff helpful, coffee not good.

I wanted Crowne Plaza Hotel Potsdamer Platz. But when I inquired at Airport Information, I discovered I had booked wrong hotel, or at least agency had. How dumb, two hotels with the same name.

I now had to travel to wrong hotel to see if possible to change my booking to correct hotel, if need be pay the difference, but not pay twice.

I check in, or rather did not check in. Finally I get transferred to correct hotel.

I arrive Crowne Plaza Potsdamer Platz four hours later than would otherwise have arrived.

I dine at Layla, an excellent Israeli restaurant.

Next morning, how to explore Berlin? Unlike Athens where walk, too far spread out, have to catch metro. I had at the airport bought a weekly season ticket for 30 euros.

I had a coffee map, actually I had two, but only one was of use as it showed the streets.

What better way to explore Berlin than via its coffee shops?

Therefore the plan, hop on the metro, head to where I could see a cluster of coffee shops, then have a walk around.

I learn the difference between the S and U routes, S above ground, U below ground.

But first find The Barn Potzdamer Platz where I learn The Barn has a new coffee shop.

Housed in an iconic building, Haus Huth, the only pre-war building remaining in Potsdamer Platz.

I then hopped on the metro to Rosa Luxemburg Platz.

The square has writing of or to Rosa Luxemburg. A little way off from Rosa Luxemburg Platz, a bronze statue of Rosa Luxemburg.

I head to Soho House Berlin.

It is not every coffee shop walk in and find a Damien Hirst on the wall.

What is next noticed is the vast open space various stalls. Clothes, music, books, and coffee and food.

I wander around, have lunch followed by coffee and a cake.

Next coffee shop Five Elephant in Mitte.

A lovely little coffee shop for coffee and cakes.

Roast their own coffee. Good selection of single origin, but no pour over to try.

As no pour over, revisit The Barn Potsdamer Plaz where I learn the barista who served me earlier was Japanese World Champion barista Yuko Inoue.

Next day, a change of strategy, visit Checkpoint Charlie, then Brandenburg Gate on foot. I get lost but no problem, I see more of Berlin.

I was warned Checkpoint Charlie was touristy and I would not like.  Sadly true. The area colonised by KFC, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Americans tourists taking selfies.

Checkpoint Charlie as was, sitting in the middle of the road. I had always envisioned on the middle of a bridge.

A pity the area had not been left as was, unspoilt, but still nevertheless chilling.

I then realised, the day before, I  was in former East Berlin.

Only one divided city left in the world, Nicosia, where I was headed in a  few weeks time.

It was then walk to Brandenburg Gate.

I got lost, which was fortunate as I found a surviving section of the Berlin Wall. As with Checkpoint Charlie, again quite chilling.

Running alongside the wall at the foot of the wall, Berlin 1933-1945 Between Propaganda and Terror, a chilling exhibition drawing on Nazi archives of the rise and fall of the Nazis and the terror inflicted.

On the other side of the Berlin Wall in East Berlin the story of the daring escape over the wall of the Holzapfel family told in the form of a graphic novel.

It was then on to the Brandenburg Gate.

I passed another section of the Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz that I had not noticed before.

Mama’s Kitchen

May 12, 2019

Vietnamese restaurant

Food to say the least not very good.

Bonanza Coffee Heroes

May 12, 2019

I have heard good things, was recommended, but arrived on the dot of six, and they close on the dot of six.

Why close so early? People sat outside other places enjoying a lovely sunny day, why close at six?

A guy apologised.

But a woman claimed no one wished for coffee after six. Er, why were they busy, why were they turning people away?

She claimed they wanted a life. Do not work in coffee.

Had I not visited No Fire No Glory or on the way visited a street food market and eaten, which I would not have found had I not, then yes, not only would I have arrived in time for a coffee, I may also have had time to return to The Barn Roastery. But then had I done these things, I would not have visited the park at the end of the street.

Street Food Market in Berlin

May 12, 2019

Located roughly halfway between between No Fire no Glory and Bonanza Coffee Heroes and I only stumbled across by walking between the two.

An excellent and varied choice of street food.

I settled on Korean, deep fried vegetables with deep fried chicken.

It was excellent. Contrast with the visiting street food circuses that visit Lincoln.