Traffic Light Men

Annelie took me to a Spanish tapas bar. I thought I didn't like tapas but now I changed my mind.

Annelie took me to a Spanish tapas bar. I thought I didn’t like tapas but now I changed my mind.

I spent the night at Annelie’s place in the outskirts of Berlin. Ah, the peace! The downside is the amount of time you need to get to the inner city. That’s one of the main disadvantages I see with Berlin, it takes literally forever to get anywhere. And then when I got somewhere, I never know where I am. In Uppsala, I navigated according to the giant cathedral, in Stockholm I looked out for the turning illuminated NK clock. (By now, I am sufficiently familiar with the cities to survive without those light houses most of the time.) In Berlin, I do see the TV tower as well but I hardly know what that means direction-wise. What I do recognize though is whether I am in the East or West part of town.

Find the traffic light man!

Find the traffic light man!

As I really, really hope you all know Germany and thus also Berlin was divided until – historically speaking – rather recently. The border that went right through Berlin may not exist anymore but there are several things that show you which part you are in. The easiest to spot is the Traffic Light Man. He looked quite different in East Germany and because he looked better they decided to keep him in East Berlin. Or maybe it was nostalgia but I think he really looks more fun in the East. When you see a typically German Traffic Light Man, you know you are in the West. When you see a jolly fellow going for a walk all dressed in green, that’s the East of town. Apparently he is so popular that he has become a giant tourist product. You can buy everything with the Ampelmännchen (“Little Traffic Light Man”) in Berlin, including gummi Ampelmännnchen.

019 020I am leaving the capital now in any case. People say you are either a Hamburg type or a Berlin type. If anything, I am a Hamburg type. After popping in at work, I will rush off to my next engagement directly. I have been entrusted with the responsibility to arrange an after work event for the young professionals of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce here and I am of course – despite all tiredness – very much looking forward!

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A Berlin toilet.

A Berlin toilet.

In Annelie's corridor.

In Annelie’s corridor.

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