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.

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.

The abandoned airport down the street

Tempelhof airport was once the world’s largest building

I’m moving flats next month and saying goodbye to Tempelhofer Feld, my favourite space in the neighbourhood.

But before I pack up my books and lug them across town, I’d like to tell you a bit about the history of what was once the world’s largest building.

The Heavy Load-Bearing Body Down the Street

The base of the Schwerbelastungskörper

I’m moving flats soon, after four years, leaving this neighbourhood behind for another pre-war altbau in a different part of the city.

Imminent departure has prompted me to poke around some of those minor historic sites I’ve passed so often but never gotten around to exploring.

The hamsters are loose in Berlin

Hamsters on the loose in Berlin (Photo: imago images/7aktuell)

It’s not surprising that the culture which gave us specific words for a brilliant idea you get while drinking but end up regretting later (Schnapsidee — I get a lot of these), and for the perverse sense of satisfaction at taking joy in someone else’s pain (Schadenfreude) should also have a term for hoarding.

Berlin life in the time of COVID-19

Pariser Platz on COVID-19 nights (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

I’m not a disease expert by any stretch — though I have been sick in several third world shitholes.

But it feels like anyone with any sort of public platform is expected to take a position on the COVID-19 pandemic. It certainly had a paralyzing impact on travel.