Rescuing Berlin’s Squirrels

Baby Squirrel Feeding

What would you do if you found a baby squirrel alone in your garden or on the street?  Until recently I would have had no answer to this question but in the last week I’ve had some insight into caring for squirrels in Berlin and the work of Eichhörnchen Notruf eV, a charity responsible for rescuing squirrels in Germany.

Baby Squirrel Feeding in Berlin

Over the last few days my social media streams have been full of complaints about the weather in Berlin and whilst it has been rough on the people living here it’s been even tougher on the city’s squirrel population.

The high winds of the storm referred to as Niklas blew baby squirrels from their dreys and brought down the trees that held those nests in the first place.

My girlfriend’s sister has been caring for 4 squirrels brought to her over the last week and 3 more will be in her care from today.

Baby Squirrel Feeding in Slow Motion

Now, baby squirrels may look incredibly cute but rearing them is no easy task. They need to be fed every two hours and Lina does what she does on a completely voluntary basis.

So what should you do if you find a squirrel that has fallen from its nest?

The Eichhörnchen Notruf eV has a list of the 10 most important steps (in German).

The first thing is to check to see if it’s injured – it is fine to handle squirrels, they don’t carry communicable diseases but be careful (check the website for more details).  If it’s not in need of emergency treatment, the best thing is to keep an eye on it for an hour or so but allow the mother a chance to discover that it is missing and retrieve it if possible.

Read the 10 most important steps on the website but if you’re in any doubt, the emergency number for contacting the Eichhörnchen Notruf eV is 0700 200 200 12.

Four Baby Squirrels Sleeping

If you would like to help Eichhörnchen Notruf eV continue the great work they do with helping injured or orphaned squirrels in Germany you could consider making a donation:

Eichhörnchen Notruf e.V.

Hamburger Sparkasse – HASPA

Kontonummer: 1034244291
BLZ: 200 505 50

IBAN: DE38 2005 0550 1034 2442 91
BIC: HASPDEHHXXX

Balli Döner – Dürüm that really fits the bill

Dürüm Döner Close Up at Balli Berlin

My Döner guru (yes, I have a Döner guru and everyone should have one) Cihan is responsible for introducing me to two of my favourite Berlin Kebap options: the Spezial Döner at Konyali and the Dürüm Döner at Balli.

I can still remember how excited Cihan was when we were discussing Kebaps a couple of summers ago and I told him I hadn’t tried Dürüm and I’d never been to Balli.

For the uninitiated, a Dürüm is a wrap made with a Turkish flatbread similar to a tortilla filled with the usual Döner Kebap ingredients, with the addition of chips (Pommes / fries) in the case of Balli.

Balli Döner on Tempelhofer Damm Berlin

Balli Döner on Tempelhofer Damm

For my first visit, Cihan took me to the Balli near S-Bhf Hermannstrasse and we ate our Dürüms on a wall on the street near an entrance to Tempelhofer Feld but they have Imbiße all over Berlin.  There are two on Hermannstrasse and one on Sonnenallee and another on Tempelhofer Damm, as well as outposts in Steglitz, Mariendorf, Lichterfelde, Spandau and Reinickendorf.

Dürüm Döner at Balli Berlin

I couldn’t believe how big the Kebap was on that first day – it was the size of my forearm – and I couldn’t quite finish it despite a big appetite and the fact that it was absolutely delicious.  Every time I go back (and I go often) it catches me a little bit by surprise.

Döner im Brot at Balli Berlin

Naturally, it’s not just all Dürüm at Balli, they do of course have the usual Döner Kebap im Brot (which I’ve also had and can vouch for) and other Turkish specialities – so if you’re a Döner fan in Berlin you should definitely give Balli a go.

Ich bin ein Berliner – Not your average holiday video

Still from Ich bin ein Berliner by Tim Richardson

Photo: Still from ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ by Tim Richardson

Tim Richardson spent three days in Berlin and he decided to create a video of his trip inspired by Leoardo Delessandri’s Watchtower of Turkey and Watchtower of Morocco films.

The style was out of Richardson’s comfort zone and to make life even more difficult for himself he decided to film it all with his iPhone 6 but I’m sure that you’ll agree the effort was well worth it.

There are lots of familiar sights, the Siegessäule, Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer and Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe to name a few, but Ich bin ein Berliner is not your average Berlin holiday video.

Ich bin ein Berliner

// via Gilly //

Sunday Documentary: ‪Virtual Reconstruction of Ripped Stasi Files‬

Virtual Reconstruction of Ripped Stasi Files

Photo: Still from ‘Virtual Reconstruction of Ripped Stasi Files’

Virtual Reconstruction of Ripped Stasi Files‬ is a documentary from Fraunhofer IPK, the company commissioned by the BStU (Bundesbeauftragten für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen Republik or Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic) to develop the “e-Puzzler”, a tool for the virtual reconstruction of thousands of documents destroyed by the Stasi in the lead up to the fall of the Berlin wall.

I was 14 year old when the Berlin wall fell and when I think back to that time two distinct pictures form in my mind: joyful Berliners dancing on the wall on the night it ‘fell’, 9 November 1989; and a more serious crowd storming the Stasi headquarters on 15 January 1990.

What they found when they entered the building were thousands of sacks of torn documents, many of which had previously been part of the detailed files the Ministry of State Security kept on the people of East Germany.

For years, the Stasi had inspired fear in the ordinary citizens of the DDR but as they rebelled and protests intensified the tables turned and shredding machines ran day and night in an attempt to destroy vital evidence of the ministry’s wrongdoings.

When the machines burnt out agents started ripping up the files by hand.

In the aftermath of the fall of the wall, reconstructing those files and allowing citizens access to the information that had been gathered about them became a vital part of the reunification process.

First, papers were examined and repaired by hand but it was clear that this process would take decades and in an attempt to speed up the task automated solutions were sought.

The development of Fraunhofer IPK’s “e-Puzzler” is now in the testing phase having proved viable in the pilot period and the company is looking at options to further speed up the virtual reconstruction of the files of the Stasi.

Virtual Reconstruction of Ripped Stasi Files

Franzosenbad – A swimming pool in a bad way

Broken Glass and Diving Board at Franzosenbad Berlin - an abandoned swimming pool

The water was drained from the pool at the Franzosenbad years ago and now it’s littered with parts of the ceiling, lockers and some of the discarded wooden panels that at one point kept the abandoned swimming pool in the north of Berlin secure.

The Franzosenbad is in the former Cité Foch, built in the French sector of Berlin from 1953 to house the French allied soldiers and their families, which is also home to an abandoned shopping centre.

Entree Eingang at Franzosenbad Berlin - an abandoned swimming pool Reception Area at Franzosenbad Berlin - an abandoned swimming pool Foyer at Franzosenbad Berlin - an abandoned swimming pool Diving Board at Franzosenbad Berlin - an abandoned swimming pool 3 at Franzosenbad Berlin - an abandoned swimming pool Pool and Steps at Franzosenbad Berlin - an abandoned swimming pool

Built in 1972, the Franzosenbad has a 6-lane 25-metre pool with two diving boards and a separate teaching pool.

When the French allies withdrew from Berlin in 1994 the pool was handed over in working order to the Berlin Senate who granted the right of use to the district of Reinickendorf.

It subsequently came under the control of the Berliner Bäder-Betriebe in 1996 and closed its doors in July 2002 due to the prohibitively high costs of necessary repairs.

Destruction at Franzosenbad Berlin - an abandoned swimming pool Changing Room at Franzosenbad Berlin - an abandoned swimming pool Locker 228 at Franzosenbad Berlin - an abandoned swimming pool Locker Room at Franzosenbad Berlin - an abandoned swimming pool

The owner of a local diving business had negotiated a price and had grand plans to re-open the pool in 2005, capitalising on the potential of the lawn area around the building for sunbathing.

Like the nearby Einkauszentrum, the Franzosenbad has obviously become a playground for the local youths and graffiti artists and many of the glass panels around the building have been smashed.

Dive In at Franzosenbad Berlin - an abandoned swimming pool Doors and Windows at Franzosenbad Berlin - an abandoned swimming pool ortie Ausgang Sign at Franzosenbad Berlin - an abandoned swimming pool Outside Franzosenbad Berlin - an abandoned swimming pool

Despite the obvious damage it is clear that someone cares about the Franzosenbad, so the swimming pool has long been neglected but may not be totally abandoned – the basement rooms are very well secured and the wooden panels are regularly checked and repaired.

Fin DAC – Magnificent 7

Still from Fin DAC - Magnificent 7 by Trevor Whelan

Photo: Still from Fin DAC – Magnificent 7 by Trevor Whelan

Watch street artist Fin DAC at work on his huge Magnificent 7 mural, a series of 7 beautiful portraits, at The Point Village, Dublin during an art residency at The Gibson Hotel, filmed and directed by Trevor Whelan for Dragon Armoury Creative.

Fin DAC has been one of my favourite street artists since I saw him painting at Stroke Urban Art Fair and he was back in Berlin over the last few days working at Teufelsberg for Berlin Rising.

Fin DAC – Magnificent 7

MJ’s Foodshop – My Favourite Berlin Club

Close Up Roast Turkey Club Sandwich at MJs Foodshop Berlin

As a Brit I am naturally fond of a sandwich and finding one in Berlin is not an easy task but that’s where MJ’s Foodshop comes in, not only is the Roasted Turkey Club sandwich delicious, it’s a thing of beauty and massive to boot.

Roast Turkey Club Sandwich at MJs Foodshop Berlin MJs Foodshop Berlin Logo Mac and Cheese at MJs Foodshop Berlin

Juicy turkey is backed up by bacon (and as we all know, everything is better with bacon), lettuce, tomato, eggs and mayo and comes served in toasted homemade bread.

And as I wrote earlier it’s massive but more importantly it tastes so good.

My advice is to order Mac and Cheese as a side – it’s creamy and cheesy and therefore a perfect accompaniment to the club sandwich.

Philly Cheese Steak at MJs Foodshop Berlin Homemade Lemonade at MJs Foodshop Berlin Hand Cut Fries at MJs Foodshop Berlin

If for some reason the Roasted Turkey Club doesn’t appeal I can also recommend the Philly Cheese Steak and the fries.

The portions at MJ’s are so big that I’ve never managed to make it through the main course with enough room left for dessert but one day I’m determined to try the New York Cheesecake.

If you’re looking for a bit of comfort food in Berlin and you have either someone to share with or a large appetite MJ’s Foodshop is at Sonnenallee 34 – one thing to note, don’t go on Mondays when MJ’s is closed.

Sunday Documentary: Declassified – Rise and Fall of the Wall

Declassified - Rise and Fall of the Wall

Photo: Still from Declassified – Rise and Fall of the Wall

Shown on the History Channel to mark the 15th anniversary of the fall of the wall on 9 November 2004, Declassified: Rise and Fall of the Wall is a documentary peppered with facts gleaned from then recently declassified files about events.

The documentary starts with a famous quote* from Nikita Kruschev:

I consider Berlin to be the testicles of the West.  When I want the West to scream, I squeeze on Berlin.

* I have seen this more often written as, “Berlin is the testicle of the West.  When I want the West to scream, I squeeze on Berlin.”

It then follows events in the German capital from the division of Berlin between the allied powers following the end of the war in 1945 to the fall of the wall on the night of 9 November 1989.

The evolution of the wall was cleverly shown with the use of computer graphics, though more detailed and sophisticated animations have been made in the years since thanks to technological advances.

The programme mistakenly identifies Rudolf Urban as the first casualty of the Berlin Wall. Urban died in the Lazarus hospital on the 17 September 1961 having contracted pneumonia whilst being treated for the injuries he suffered jumping from his first floor apartment at Bernauer Strasse 1 on 19 August 1961.

Ida Siekmann is the first official casualty of the Berlin Wall.  She died on her way to the Lazarus hospital on 22 August 1961 as a result of the injuries she sustained jumping from the third floor window of her apartment at Bernauer Strasse 48.

Declassified – Rise and Fall of the Wall

A New Berlin App – Is There A Line At Berghain?

Is There A Line At Berghain? App

Photo: Screenshots from Is There A Line At Berghain?

There are some apps that you know that you will use every day and some that you need on your phone just in case – Is There A Line At Berghain?, a new app that tells you if there is a queue at Berlin’s iconic club definitely falls into the latter category.

Picture the scenario: you’re out for the night with friends, you’ve had a few drinks and now you’re in the mood to dance so you go to your favourite club only to find that there’s a huge queue and you have to wait an hour to get in – instant buzz killer, right?

Is There A Line At Berghain? is the solution to your problem if that night out is in Berlin and the club you’re heading for is Berghain.

The app (there’s also a website for those whose pre-club routine takes place at home) is driven by data crowd-sourced from users who cast their votes in the app so as developer Danuta Dramowicz points out “…it depends on people a) voting often and b) voting honestly (actually being there, not lying, etc).”

Also, “the status is based on an algorithm that updates itself only when a certain amount of people have voted YES or NO within a pre-determined time frame.”

The app has only been available for a couple of days but as it gains users it will therefore be more up-to-date and more accurate.

Is There A Line At Berghain? Background Images

Photo: Screenshots from Is There A Line At Berghain?

As well as answering the burning question about the queue, the background images for Is There A Line At Berghain?, sourced from Flickr that that change each time you load the app, will help get you in the mood for your clubbing experience.

// via iHeartBerlin //

Berlin, Berlin: Spring by Nehemias Colindres

Still from Berlin, Berlin Spring by Nehemias Colindres

Photo: Still from Berlin, Berlin: Spring by Nehemias Colindres

Berlin, Berlin: Spring is the second instalment in a 4-part series about Berlin that director Nehemias Colindres calls “a poetic visualization of a city’s manifesto” that started with Berlin, Berlin: Autumn.

The last few days in Berlin have been glorious and many have been declaring that ‘winter is over’ or ‘spring is sprung’ and whilst I’m all for a bit of optimism I’d also urge a little caution. Don’t pack away all your warm clothes just yet because winter might just have a little sting in the tail.

Today is officially the first day of spring by the astronomical definition but Berlin has a habit of lulling everyone into a false sense of security.  After a cold and dark winter the first days of spring are such a release but winter is often lurking in the wings, waiting to be called on for an encore and one final bow, determined not to let spring have all the attention just yet.

That being said I’m sure that many of us feel the sense of rebirth that Nehemias Colindres evokes in Berlin, Berlin: Spring as the days start to get longer and indeed, ‘crisp air fills our faces with hope, a new sensation comes to life’…I say bring on Berlin, Berlin: Summer.

Berlin, Berlin: Spring