The NSA listening post on Devil’s Mountain

The Cold War spy station on Devil’s Mountain

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.

Palace walk with lockdown blues

Portrait of an irritable man

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 end of hobo chic

I like to stop by Bebelplatz for a visit to the Empty Library

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. 

An afternoon with Dicke Marie

This tree is Berlin’s oldest resident

It’s beginning to feel like someone broke the weather.

We had snow here two weeks ago — the most snow I’ve seen in four years in Berlin. It didn’t snow at all last year. Before that, a few centimetres once or twice which melted within a day.

German pillows are a crime against sleep

How does this make any kind of sense?

How big is your head?

I’m not suggesting you know its exact circumference in centimetres, but you do have an idea of how much space it takes up, right?

I don’t think this is the case for German people. How else would you explain their pillows?

The Best Books I Read in 2020

These are the best books I read in 2020

Do you have a book addiction? Well I’m here to make it worse.

I love a good reading list like a hobo loves Aqua Velva.

Staying sane in an info-flooded world

Why is it so difficult to stay informed? To sift the essential from the vast cacophony of background noise? To consume just enough without smartphones and 24-hour news cycles taking over your life?

In part, the devices that improve — and often plague — our lives are deliberately designed to be addictive.

Scolded by Germans

One of my old friends is going native.

I went to the beach with her and her sister long before kindergarten was on the horizon, and we attended the same high school in our tiny hometown.

The misery of apartment hunting in Berlin

“There’s gotta be someplace out there for me…”

It’s easier to get into North Korea than it is to rent a flat in Berlin.

I can say that with great confidence, having done both.

The ‘Forbidden City’ just outside Berlin

This was once the largest Red Army base outside the USSR

The largest Red Army base outside the Soviet Union was a 40 minute drive south of Berlin.

It was just beyond where the new airport — and the old Schönefeld SXF — is today.