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Last December we did a post about Berlin's Brandenburg Airport, headlined "Berlin's giant new airport will open (maybe possibly hopefully)." In that post we outlined the history of woes that the airport has suffered, going back to the October 2011 date when its doors were originally supposed to open. Then, last July we gave you another update, expressing our hope that "someday, somehow" the airport would debut.
Fast forward to yesterday, when Germany's English-language The Local published details of a report describingand this is not a typomore than 66,000 problems still requiring attention. The story began with the line, "Berlin's new international airport took another step towards never being finished on Tuesday..." and then kind of went downhill from there. Oof.
Sure, we love all the speed and comfort of modern travel, but it didn't that way overnight. Every Thursday, we're going to take a look back at travel the way it used to be, whether that's decades or centuries ago. This is Throwback Thursday, travel edition.
Someday, somehow, Berlin's Brandenburg Airport will open. Until then, the city relies on the current major international airports, Tegel and Schönefeld, which are woefully stretched to capacity. Even before these two however, Berlin made a name for itself in aviation history with Tempelhof.
Tempelhof wasn't always the name of the airport, but of forest and field in a neighborhood of Berlin named Tempelhof-Schöneberg. We recently came across a map of Berlin from 1913, which shows the original layout of the area.
David Hasselhoff not only feels partially responsible for the fall of the Berlin Wall, but now feels like he has to save what's left of it, too.
In 1989, the Baywatch star (who is probably better known as the old drunk guy eating a burger to anyone under 25) performed "Looking for Freedom" on top of the Berlin Wall and the song became an instant hit in Germany.
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Berlin has four airports. There's Tempelhofthe Reich-built property that closed in 2008 after 85 yearsnow only used for special events. There's Tegelstill functioning, though way over capacity. There's Schönefeld, also functioning but also over capacity. And finally there's Brandenburg, an extension of Schönefeld which will eventually open to become a mega-airport with the appealing code of BER.
Believe it or not, two out of those four airports are effectively ghost airports, halls empty of travelers and baggage claims dusty, though the dust at Brandenburg is from construction. While Tempelhof has closed the book on its life, Brandenburg is only just writing its own preface, and trying again and again to open for the first time. Let's review the saga of what's become a German national embarrassment:
October 30, 2011. That was the date Berlin was supposed to debut the state-of-the-art airport. Its full name is Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt (BER). Learning that name is about as far as the public got with it, since a delay pushed everything back until...
June 3, 2012. This was it. June 3rd would be the big debut and the four carriers looking to use BER as a hubGermanwings, Germania, Air Berlin and Lufthansahad scheduled their summer around it. It was also the date Berlin's current airport, Tegel (TXL), was supposed to close and shift operations to BER. Then something very un-Germanic occurred: a second massive delay.
The Newbie Traveler / Photo Gallery / Berlin Travel / Germany Travel / Europe Travel / Train Travel / → All Tags
What would your life be like if you hadn't yet traveled to Europe? If you'd spent years reading travel novels and fantasizing over guidebooks, but hadn't made the big leap? This is the case for Andy Miles, who in his late twenties just embarked on a trip to hit most of the cities for the first time. He's walking us through the emotions and observations of a true Newbie Traveler.
I like to think that I'm pretty well versed in Berlin's history, but this first visit to the city still hit me a little harder than I thought it would. If you let it, the Berlin Wall, Holocaust memorials and museums and seemingly unending grey weather can really weigh heavily.
After taking the train in from Prague, I exited Berlin's Hauptbahnhof (main train station), which feels like a multi-level shopping mall, and got right into a cab. This particular cabbie spoke very little English, which I always love (no, but really, I do), so instead of trying to TALK LOUDER at him until we miraculously understood each other (does that ever work?), I just pulled up a map on my phone to show him where I needed to go.
He grabbed my phone, put it so close to his eyes that I thought his cornea may have rubbed against the screen and proceeded to say, “forgot my glasses.” Not exactly what you want to hear a cab driver say before peeling out and taking you to what you hope is your hotel.
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In times of war and in times of peace, countries still hope to pull in those tourism dollars. We see it now, with North Korea and the Arab Spring, and you can bet your butt that it was most certainly the same back in the lead-up to World War II in a Reich-ruled Germany. The year was 1935 and it was a dark time; the Luftwaffe was created as were the Nuremberg Laws, and Hitler was already defying the Treaty of Versailles by building submarines.
And yet, amidst all that, the country managed to continue their tourism push in advance of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. We recently came across a pamphlet from this period, aimed at American travelers crossing the ocean to visit Germany for the purpose of cheering on their countrymen at the Games, but alsoas it's obvious from the wording of this pamphlet proclaiming Germany "The Beautiful Country"to have a look around the more pastoral, traditional towns. In other words, it was lightweight propaganda.
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If you're older than 24 and you're still staying in hostels, that's a big shhh no-no. At least that's what society would have you think, however; we'd like to officially come out and say that we're older than 24 and still. staying. in. hostels.
Deep breath. Though the reason for our hostel stays has evolvedthey're now backups for when we blow all our budget early on in trips, with 5-star hotelswe're never ashamed.
Having done the whole backpack-around-Europe thing during college, we have a solid past dotted with hostel stays of all sorts. Dirty hostels? Don't get us started on Budapest. Party hostels? Ugh, Barcelona. Plain scary hostels? Look no further than London. Still we haven't given up on them, and we've discovered some real diamonds in the rough, places we'd happily return to (and soon). Oh yeah, and ALL WITH EXCELLENT, FREE WIFI INTERNET AND BREAKFAST. Here's three we've recently stayed at, and personally approve of:
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It’s one drama after another for the new Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport (aka Willy Brandt/BER). Originally scheduled to open last year, then pushed to June 3rd, the airport’s operating company issued a stunning statement Tuesday that fire-protection problems will now delay the opening until August.
The news has caused an uproar from government officials like Brandenburg’s minister-president, who’s said he’s “really angry”. Now Germany’s largest airlines Air Berlin and Lufthansa are scrambling to redirect flights back to Berlin-Tegel and Schönefeld airports until further notice. This presents huge problem as both are pre-Cold War airports that were scheduled to shut down on June 2nd.
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For a recent trip to Germany, we flew from New York-JFK to Berlin-Tegel on Air Berlin. We were intrigued by the underdog airline from the jump. In the past we’ve seen some good fares from the carrier, and now, with AB joining the oneworld Alliance in March 2012, we were curious to see if it indeed belonged with the Big Boys. But after this experience we’re now wondering, is Air Berlin really still just a budget long-haul airline?
The Company Line: Air Berlin, Germany’s second largest airline, is trying to compete with Lufthansa for business with its 7.9 million customers. Their official literature states the airline is “clearly” number one in Berlin. We’re still blinking back the shock on that ditty. And wonder if Lufthansa is really worried.
Most Likeable: The Crew. Not to be pervy, but on our flights from JFK to Berlin and back, we were dazzled by the young, handsome male flight attendants’ spiky-shiny hair and buff bods. They’re sexy and maybe they know it? We liked their willingness to OD on official Air Berlin gear, from wings down to the apparently unisex thin red-belt for their sleek trousers. The women were sharp too, rocking black and red complete with vampy lipstick. Nonetheless, we didn’t see anyone pre- or post-flight wearing the chic red leather gloves shown as part of AB’s official flight crew uniform. Dangit.
And then there were ten. Ten city on location-based social network app Foursquare, that is. It began with Chicago (Windy City Badge), then London, Paris, Istanbul, Atlanta, New Orleans, Singapore and Sao Paulo followed. Today Foursquare has announced the addition of two moreBerlin and Tokyoto round out the first batch of these city badges, which encourage users of the app to get out and explore both a metropolis' most famous sites and the locally preferred joints.
How to get the badges: First, follow 4sqCities, and just to be safe, it wouldn't hurt to also follow the individual city lists here: Berlin, Tokyo. Then travel to one or all of the cities and clickety-click to check-in to the places on the recommended lists. Five places earns the badge.
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The real, -Berlin-Marathon
We know this is hard to hear in August when you're still barbecuing, hitting the beach and doing all those other summertime activities, but it's fall marathon training time. We found a couple of upcoming marathons that'll warm up both racers and spectators who love a good running competition in a great travel destination. Be sure to register ASAP and wear sunscreen while you're out training for these Big 3 marathons coming up:
· E.T. Full Moon Midnight Marathon
At this Nevada marathon, you just might run into E.T. About 2.5 hours north of Vegas, the course goes down Highway 375, a.k.a. Extraterrestrial Highway, which organizers say has one of the highest number of reported UFO sightings, and is right outside of Area 51. But if you see an alien, it most likely will be one of the racers, who tend to dress up for the occasion. The August 21 event includes a marathon, half-marathon, a 10K and 51K—in honor of Area 51. Online registration closes on August 19.
If you haven't already heard about what happened this weekend in Duisberg, Germany during the infamous Love Parade, then be ready for your Monday morning to be spoiled: 19 people were crushed to death and 342 were injured during a stampede through a tunnelthe only entrance to the crowded music festival grounds.
Apparently 1.4 million revelers attended the event, and all had to pass through this bottleneck in order to see the lineup of international DJs, including Mark Knight of the Black Eyed Peas.