German Yoga & Sauna = Winning Combination

With the field hockey season in swing and my joy in Berlin public transit taking precedent over bicycling, I definitely need yoga to be able to play hockey. Fortunately, there are lots of options for yoga in Berlin. I tried a yoga studio near our apartment. It’s a combination yoga studio, physio clinic, gym, and…

Milieu Protection against Gentrification

It looks like urban politics, real estate, and the rental market are emerging as a theme of these first weeks in Berlin. Perhaps it’s only this time around the Berlin election that the city seems almost Vancouver’s equal in its obsession with real estate, though the topic doesn’t come up as often in personal conversations….

Public Transit on the Honour System

Berlin public transit has always operated on an honour system, i.e. there are no barriers to entering the subway or trains and bus drivers merely glance at tickets that passengers show. In principle this is a very pleasant system as it simplifies walking into stations and also speaks to a certain trust in human nature….

Refugee Politics: Security

Obviously, German political discourse, particularly around state elections like the recent one on the Baltic coast or in Berlin, and looking forward to next year’s federal election, continue to be animated by Chancellor Merkel’s surprising response to refugees, “We’ll manage [very large numbers]”. Absent from this discussion is the reaction that is much more prevalent…

Sudoku Struggles

Okay, so I admit, I’m sudoku-addicted. Yes, if there is a sudoku to be solved, I will take a, er, crack at it. But no, sudoku mastery is not one of my sabbatical projects. Here’s the weird thing: I’m struggling with German sudoku. I would have thought that since sudoku is a pretty straight-forward game…

Neighbourhood Market

I recently went on my first trip to the neighbourhood market. It meets on a church square about a 15min walk away twice a week in the mornings. It’s a mix of local farming products and lots of other things, including bread, meats and cheese, the items I mainly went for. I especially like the…

Sunday’s Sundae: Triple Eis 

The next ice cream we tried was close to my grandparents in Tegel. We where just on our way back from the city and where in urgent need of some refreshment. We went to the market to get cheese, bread, meat and fruit and ended up coming across an ice cream parlour. The scoops here…

Berlin Corruption: Meet Global Politics

I find it amusing that some of the German media refer to Donald Trump as a Bauunternehmer. The closest translation would be a construction entrepreneur, I suppose. However, Berlin has a long history of corruption in its construction sector, generally known as a “swamp of corruption”. The most interesting and colourful case always was the…

PS: Densification

A couple of days ago I noted the similar struggles in city politics around real estate in Berlin and Vancouver. This week, I noticed another funny similarity: urban public transit. Berlin public transit clearly plays in a different league than Vancouver’s. From our apartment, two city train stations, one subway stations, and five different bus…

Tweeting German Politics

Some of my research attention over the past several years has turned to “digital diplomacy”, that is the use of the internet, of social media, and of other communication tools for foreign policy purposes. Curious, see the Direct Diplomacy blog which I joined earlier this year. In terms of this interest, I am very much…

The Real (E)state of City Politics

Berliners will be voting in their city election this coming Sunday. Unfortunately, my registration will be too late for me to vote, but the city is plastered with election posters, so we’re passively participating in this campaign. And, curiously, there are some issues that are quite similar to Vancouver! City State Elections Berlin is one…

Sunday’s Sundae: Ku’Damm 

When I first found out that we where going to go to Germany for a year, I couldn’t wait to discover all the amazing food. First on my list was to find the best ice cream in Berlin. I decided to give each of the cafes a fighting chance by picking out one flavour: Lemon….